Gov. Brown signs bill repealing unenforceable parts of Prop. 187

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a press conference last week.
(Nick Ut / AP)

In a disavowal of the hard line Californians once took against illegal immigration, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday repealing unenforceable provisions of Proposition 187.

The highly charged 1994 measure, passed resoundingly by voters, was intended to withhold public services from those in the country illegally. Brown’s signature Monday stripped from state books the key sections of the initiative, ultimately gutted by the courts as unconstitutional.

“This is a long overdue fix to a law that has no place on the state’s books,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown.


State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the bill’s author, said the governor’s action “closes a dark chapter in our state’s history and brings dignity and respect to the national immigration debate.”

“California is leading the country integrating immigrants into society and recognizing them as contributors to our economy,” he said.

The erasure bill was a priority of Latino lawmakers pained by the divisive ballot measure, which was titled “Save Our State” and fueled a surge in Latino activism and voter registration.

Championed by then-Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, the initiative would have banned healthcare, education and other public services for people in the country illegally and required doctors, teachers and others to report suspected violators of immigration laws (more limited requirements for reporting such suspicions remain).

Brown and the Legislature have since moved California in the opposite direction, approving driver’s licenses, state-funded college scholarships and other government benefits for those who have crossed the border or overstayed visas without permission.

Last year, in a commencement address to UC Berkeley political science graduates, Brown commented on the change in state attitudes.


“Look how the hostility to immigrants expressed in the passage of Proposition 187 in 1994 gave way to what is now a majority in California who support immigration reform,” the governor said.

SB 396 was one of 28 bills Brown signed Monday. He also approved measures to:

•Require public schools to stock epinephrine injectors so medicine can be administered quickly to students who suffer serious allergic reactions. The bill, SB 1266, was by Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar.

•Modify state birth certificates to recognize same-sex couples. Introduced by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Echo Park), AB 1951 allows parents to identify themselves as “father,” “mother,” or a new gender-neutral option of “parent.”

•Grant grandparents visitation rights to their grandchildren in certain cases. The bill, AB 1628 by Assemblyman Steve Fox (D-Palmdale), allows a judge to grant such rights if the grandparents have a preexisting relationship with the child; visits are in the best interest of the child; and at least one parent is incarcerated or institutionalized.

•Removes any limit on the number of syringes a pharmacists can sell to an adult without a prescription. The bill, AB 1743 by Assemblyman Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco), also extends the state law allowing such sales until 2021.

On Tuesday, Brown plans a ceremony to sign into law historic legislation allowing the state to regulate underground water supplies for the first time.


Twitter: @mcgreevy99

Times staff writer Phil Willon contributed to this report.