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COUNTYWIDE FOCUS

OXNARD : Fight Against Prop. 187 Taken Door-to-Door

October 30, 1994|IRA E. STOLL

One day after hundreds of Oxnard students rallied in an emotional protest, a handful of activists quietly moved through neighborhoods trying to secure votes against Proposition 187, the ballot measure that would deny most government services to illegal immigrants.

"It was very emotional, the whole march, the whole walkout," Oxnard College student Maria Jasso said Saturday. "But at the same time, there's work that has to be done with less people. It's kind of lonely."

Friday, she joined about 1,200 screaming high school students who walked out of school to march and rally against the proposition. Saturday, as she knocked on doors in Oxnard's La Colonia neighborhood, she had just one other student along for company.

Participants in Friday's march had distributed flyers advertising Saturday morning's meeting to begin the anti-Proposition 187 get-out-the-vote campaign in Ventura County.

The meeting attracted about 35 volunteers who met at Oxnard's All Saints Episcopal Church for training before splitting into teams and going out to walk the precincts.

The door-to-door campaign targeted occasional voters and asked them to request absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 election, said Karl Lawson, a member of the Ventura County Immigrant Rights Coalition, who organized the meeting. The absentee ballots would make it more convenient for them to vote, Lawson said.

Also, the canvassers carried information on Proposition 187 and about how to become a U.S. citizen.

Volunteers at the meeting said they were encouraged by the student marches and by recent polls that show Proposition 187 losing ground. "Thanks to the actions of students and community activists, we've arrived at the realization that it's possible to beat 187," Lawson said.

But the volunteers said the election's outcome was by no means guaranteed. "The marches were great and fun, but there's a lot of work left to do," said Mario Brito, a United Farm Workers organizer who spoke at the meeting.

Supporters of the ballot initiative said they believe the walkouts will backfire and persuade more people to vote for the measure.

"The 'No' folks are doing us a great deal of service and we appreciate it," said Steve Frank, coordinator for the Ventura County campaign for Proposition 187. "It reminds people that there are lawbreakers involved with illegal immigration."

Saturday's political meeting drew the attention of the Oxnard Police Department, which sent a representative to observe the training session and stationed police cars at intersections surrounding the church.

Organizers said get-out-the-vote efforts took place Saturday in Fillmore and Santa Paula.

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