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Prop. 187

October 08, 1994

We are writing in response to articles by proponents of Prop. 187 that have been included in your recent Commentary series. As director of and commissioners for the Commission for Sex Equity of the Los Angeles Unified School District, we are appalled by the mean-spirited and reactionary nature of arguments in favor of the measure. The commission was formed specifically to increase access and opportunity for girls and women in the schools. Given the fact that at least 40% of our student population are immigrants and the vast majority of recent immigrants have been women and children, the effects of Prop. 187 concern us greatly.

Specifically, Prop. 187:

* Denies prenatal care for undocumented women.

* Denies immunizations for undocumented children.

* Denies access to legal abortion, family planning, HIV testing and prevention, and breast cancer screening for immigrant women.

* Could deny rape crisis assistance and access to battered women's shelters to immigrant women.

This punitive, ill-conceived measure is even more ominous because it would apply to those who are suspected of being undocumented, in essence, all people who look or sound "foreign" (read Asians and Latinos).

It is clear that Prop. 187 is not about improving the future of Californians. It is about criminalizing the voiceless and most vulnerable among us, our school-aged children. Even the highest ranking law enforcement official for the country, U.S. Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, implores the public to focus our efforts on educating and protecting our children who are here. Instead, Prop. 187 will create a huge, ill-educated and unhealthy underclass. How will this measure allow us to regain our strength as a state?

Indeed, California is at an important crossroads. Unfortunately, proponents of 187 are taking the path of divisiveness. Before all of us is the real challenge to strive toward a more just and compassionate society and not one that pits one group against the other during hard times.

DONNA CASSYD

CINDY CHUNG-MI CHOI

GWENN PEREZ

PAULA WARD

Los Angeles

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