There's a new thing in the barrios . I call it terror of government. You call it what you like.
I've just done my periodic service registering Latino voters in a Santa Ana barrio . (I volunteer regularly because I want to help and because I speak a glib Spanish.) But this year if these people saw me at all, they saw me through lowered eyelids. I mixed with dozens of Latinos outside a popular public market. But not quite mixed. I was an alien there, with an alien public document. Finally a young man--a U.S. citizen but who himself refused to register to vote until he'd talked to his papa--confessed that these people were all scared. Citizen and noncitizen alike, they all enjoyed the comforting anonymity of the large South Bristol barrio , and feared being singled out as "voters." Who knows what that would lead to?
Back at headquarters, where I turned in my meager gleanings, the members of the Latino Unit said, "So now you know. That's the way it is."
But my point remains: This is not the way it used to be. They used to shake my hand, invite me in for a beer. The barrio was an open and friendly place.