However, attorneys for the plaintiffs pointed to provisions in the measure that did appear to take effect immediately and warned that some schools might try to prevent illegal immigrants from continuing in their classrooms.
Pollak, considering the Los Angeles Unified suit and two others filed on behalf of students elsewhere, set a court date for Nov. 28 for arguments on whether to issue a preliminary injunction.
Later Wednesday in Los Angeles, U.S. District Judge Matthew Byrne Jr. stopped short of formally and immediately barring implementation of the law, as a coalition of civil rights groups and individuals requested in four additional lawsuits. But he strongly indicated he wanted enforcement of the entire measure held in abeyance until both sides have time to present legal arguments.
"I want the court to be notified of any firm--not rumor--indication of enforcement of (the measure) in this time," Byrne said, extending the order to attorneys for both the state and the four groups of plaintiffs.
"It is the impact on individuals that I'm concerned about," Byrne told Deputy Atty. Gen. Jon M. Ichinaga, who was representing state health agencies and Wilson's office. He ordered all parties to advise him in writing "of any substantive" action to enforce the measure.
In the interim, Byrne said state officials may proceed with "in-house" preparations for enforcement of the measure without "violating the spirit of what I'm attempting to do."
The sweeping suit by the civil rights groups charges that the initiative unlawfully intrudes on federal jurisdiction over immigration and denies various constitutional rights partly by encouraging discrimination against persons who appear or sound foreign.
"What we have in effect is no implementation, no enforcement of Proposition 187," Antonia Hernandez, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told reporters.
But Ichinaga interpreted the judge's words differently. He said Byrne clearly implied "he would raise a concern" if the measure was enforced in the next week. But Ichinaga added that Byrne "did not issue an issue an injunction against the state. It seems to me he basically wants to know if it is implemented, but he didn't make any express ruling that it shouldn't be."
Spokesmen for the governor and attorney general quickly announced that the judge's action would not interfere with their implementation plans.
Since Proposition 187 contains a severability clause, some sections could conceivably take effect while others were still being debated in court cases. But legal experts say suits could tie up certain portions of the measure for anywhere from two to five years.
Streets and Schools
As dawn broke over California on Wednesday, it was business as usual for illegal immigrants who work as day laborers, kitchen employees and in other jobs.
"We can't be afraid, we have to confront this issue," said Juan Carlos, 30, a father of three, as he waited for work outside a Homebase store in Ladera Heights. "It is either this or starve."
Outside MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, a slender, grizzled man was loud and clear about offering fake identification documents, despite stiff new sanctions included in Proposition 187.
"Micas, micas," he called out in Spanish, using the term many residents know applies to driver's licenses, resident alien cards or Social Security cards.
A couple of blocks away, along another side of the park, a few young men who also sell illegal documents said they were keeping a lower profile than usual.
"Mica" salesmen and other area residents said Proposition 187 will not change conditions for Latinos and others in the city who are struggling to survive. Most of those people will remain in the United States and will do what they can to earn some money, they said.
At Martin Luther King-Drew Medical Center, meanwhile, business also proceeded pretty much as usual. "We haven't been notified of any cancellation of appointments in any of our clinics," said spokeswoman Tassie Cleveland.
A wave of introspection swept over public school campuses Wednesday morning, where just a week before student protests hit their peak with more than 10,000 young people walking out of class in Los Angeles alone.
A day after Proposition 187's passage, there were only a handful of small protests involving fewer than 500 students.
On the UC Irvine campus, about 150 students marched and chanted opposition to 187 from about 6:30 to 9 p.m. There were no incidents, campus security officials said.
Meanwhile, school administrators grappled with ways to help students cope with the disappointment.
"I'm just too stunned to do anything," said Luz Castillo, a 17-year-old Reseda High School student who just two weeks ago organized an anti-187 walkout and forum.
Times staff writer Jodi Wilgoren contributed to this report