At Conference of Latino Officials, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown Hailed the Rise of Brown Power

By Jerry Kammer on August 7, 2014

Earlier in the week, this blog noted that 2014 is the 20th anniversary of California's Proposition 187, a controversial effort to curtail illegal immigration. That anniversary was cited at the recent conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), part of which was shown on C-SPAN Thursday morning.

NALEO President Alex Padilla referred to pro-Proposition 187 television ads that showed illegal immigrants streaming across the Texas border as a narrator sounded the alarm: "They keep coming!"

Then Padilla noted the presence in the audience of Latino officials from every level of government. "It's true," he said. "We keep coming. And we have in Gov. Brown someone who embraces us when we keep coming."

The California governor had just addressed the conference, making wry use of a double entendre as he hailed the advance of "Brown Power."

He drew a lesson from history to show a series of forceful transfers of power. Said Brown: "The Mexicans threw out the Spanish ... and then of course the gringos threw out the Mexicans in 1846 or 1848. But the point is you never keep control forever. There's always new waves coming. So you've got to stay ahead of the wave. That's what we call Brown power."

The governor spoke proudly of bills he had signed to provide in-state tuition, driver's licenses, and scholarship eligibility to illegal immigrants as the result of increasing Latino power.

Said Brown: "It's really the people, the participation, the sheer power of the Latino community as it is felt in the towns and cities and counties up and down this state. So that's the tide that's turning the political feelings and philosophy of state government."

Brown took pride in another bill that allowed an illegal law-school graduate to practice his profession. "I think that's pretty good," he said. "You can practice law in California even if the law doesn't recognize that you ought to be voting in California. But you know what? If we keep doing stuff like that all across the country, Congress will get the message."

The governor also boasted of a school-spending formula that provides extra funding for schools with large numbers of English-learners.

Said Brown:

It used to be the cry, very important, "Equal spending for all school districts!" ... But in California we have unequal spending based on needs like those families that speak a language other than English at home. They get a special consideration. And the school district gets more money based on the number of non-English-speaking families that have their children in our schools — by the billions! Because it's not really justice to treat unequals equally.

You have to do more to be able to create that opportunity and that pathway for those families that are not having that same skill of speaking English as others. ... In California, out of six million students, two million are designated English-language learners and that means extra money for that school. ...I don't know what the affluent families are doing. They're not reproducing or something because half the kids in schools are in low-income families.