When the next generation looks racially different from the last, political tensions rise

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tags: immigration, Trump

The election of Donald Trump may have surprised some observers, but many Californians felt a sense of déjà vu. 

Just over 20 years ago, the state passed Proposition 187. The campaign around this ballot initiative, later deemed unconstitutional, portrayed undocumented immigrants as criminal invaders and sought to ban them from using nonemergency public services, including even primary and secondary education. 

The anti-immigrant sentiment occurred against a backdrop of wrenching economic change. Nearly half of the country’s net job losses in the early 1990s occurred in California, with a decline in manufacturing as steep as what would later occur between 2007 and 2010 in auto-heavy (and Trump-sympathetic) Michigan.

In another eerie parallel to today, profiting from political polarization was the order of the day: Rush Limbaugh arrived on the national stage in the late 1980s after perfecting his style hosting a talk radio show in Sacramento.

This toxic trio of immigration concerns, economic shocks and political blood-letting may be more than enough to demonstrate the parallels between California in the 1990s and the U.S. today. But there’s another important indicator: the “racial generation gap.” This is a straightforward measure of the relationship between the share of seniors who are white and the share of youth who are of color. But its interplay with public will and public policy is complex and consequential.

Read entire article at The Conversation

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