Lawrence "Nativo" Lopez (born 1951) is a Chicano political leader and immigrant rights activist in Southern California. Lopez is the president of the Mexican American Political Association and the executive director of the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana (formerly the Hermandad Mexicana Nacional), a community service and advocacy organization for Mexican-American immigrants in California. His importance in Los Angeles politics has been compared by the Los Angeles Times to that of Al Sharpton in New York and Jesse Jackson in Chicago.
Lopez grew up in Orange County. He became an activist in 1968, inspired by Bert Corona and Cesar Chavez. He organized student walk-outs from high schools in order to demonstrate for education reform. He was involved in successful efforts to win a large-scale amnesty for undocumented immigrants in 1986, and became involved in a campaign to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers' licences in the 1990s.
Lopez served on the school board of Santa Ana, California for six years, from 1997 until 2003. He was recalled from office after a campaign led by Ron Unz, the multi-millionaire backer of California Proposition 227, which prohibited bilingual education programs. He was accused of failing to enforce Prop 227 and of involvement in the registration of non-citizens to vote by Hermandad Mexicana Nacional. He sued to challenge the use of English-only recall petitions as a violation of the Voting Rights Act, and won in the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court, although the case is not yet resolved. Other issues involved in the recall of Lopez were the use of building contractors that provided political campaign funding to Lopez. During review of numerous contractor proposals for construction, Lopez bypassed the school district's reviewed and recommended contractors, favoring contractors that scored low, had little experience, and contributed to him finacially. After being recalled, it was discovered that the district had signed insurance contracts, at Lopez's recommendation, overpaying the insurance broker millions of dollars. Again, this broker was shown to be a Lopez campaign contributor. The organization that he led, Hermandad Mexicana, was barred from renting school district classrooms afterhours because bills in the ten of thousands of dollars were never paid. He remained unapologetic after the recall.
Lopez assisted in organizing the 2006 United States immigration reform protests, both the March 25, 2006 demonstration of between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people in Los Angeles, and the Great American Boycott on May 1, 2006, which involved between 500,000 and about 1,000,000 people in Los Angeles. On April 13, 2006, Lopez appeared on Lou Dobbs' television show, where he argued that "illegal immigrant" is an offensively racist term on par with "wop," "nigger," or "kike."
Lopez assisted in the foundation of the National Alliance for Immigrants' Rights, a group founded on similar positions on immigration.
Lopez is one of the main spokespeople of the left wing of the immigrant rights movement. He supports open borders and immediate amnesty for all undocumented immigrants. In moving towards this goal, he has argued for a strategy of working-class mobilization, demonstrations, and strikes, rather than electoral politics and support for the Democratic Party. This political standpoint was reflected in his position in the split within the immigrant rights movement over whether to boycott and strike or merely demonstrate after work and school on May Day; he advocated the former.
Lopez opposes all comprehensive immigration reform bills so far proposed in the United States Congress, not only HR 4437 in the House but also the more moderate Senate bills, as backward steps which would make the situation in the U.S. and at the U.S.-Mexico border worse for undocumented immigrants. He switched his registration from Democrat to Green in 2004, on the grounds that it was not responsive to the needs of Latinos with respect to immigration, education, health care, abortion rights, and the Iraq War, and could not be reformed.
- ↑ Template:Cite news
- ↑ ABC News article dated 1 May 2006: 1M Immigrants Skip Work for Demonstration
- ↑ CNN article dated 12 December 2003: California Latino groups urge boycott
- ↑ CNN article dated 30 April 2006: Millions expected to join walkout
- ↑ CNN article dated 30 April 2006: Quick Guide & Transcript: Immigrants launch nationwide boycotts, Student robotics competition