At the New York Times, "California Eases Tone as Latinos Make Gains":
LOS ANGELES — A generation ago, California voters approved a ballot initiative that was seen as the most anti-immigrant law in the nation. Immigrants who had come to the country illegally would be ineligible to receive prenatal care, and their children would be barred from public schools.They may or may not be accepted, but they're certainly not fully assimilated. There's a lot of Latinos who barely speak English, if they do at all, especially in the ethnic enclaves where folks don't have to interact with the outside world. Victor Davis Hanson continues to be the best on this, in his book, for example, Mexifornia.
But the law, which was later declared unconstitutional by the federal courts, never achieved the goal of its backers: to turn back the tide of immigrants pouring into the state. Instead, since the law was approved in 1994, the political and social reality has changed drastically across the state. Now, more California residents than ever before say that immigrants are a benefit to the state, according to public opinion polls from the Public Policy Institute of California.
As Congress begins debating an overhaul of the immigration system, many in California sense that the country is just now beginning to go through the same evolution the state experienced over the last two decades. For a generation of Republicans, Gov. Pete Wilson’s barrages on the impact of immigration in the 1990s spoke to their uneasiness with the way the state was changing. Now many California Republicans point to that as the beginning of their downfall.
Today, party leaders from both sides, and from all over the state, are calling for a softer approach and a wholesale change in federal policies.
The state’s changing attitudes are driven, in large part, by demographics. In 1990, Latinos made up 30 percent of the state’s population; they will make up 40 percent — more than any other ethnic group — by the end of this year, and 48 percent by 2050, according to projections made by the state this month. This year, for the first time, Latinos were the largest ethnic group applying to the University of California system.
Towns that just a decade ago were largely white now have Latino majorities. Latinos make up an important power base not only in urban centers like Los Angeles, but also in places that were once hostile to outsiders. There are dozens of city councils with a majority of Latino members, a Mexican-American is the mayor of Los Angeles and another is the leader of the State Assembly. Nearly all of the 15 California Republicans in Congress represent districts where at least a quarter of the residents are Latino.
“The political calculus has changed dramatically,” said Manuel Pastor, a demographer and professor of American studies at the University of Southern California. “Immigrants are an accepted part of public life here. And California is America fast-forward. What happened to our demographics between 1980 and 2000 is almost exactly what will happen to the rest of the country over the next 30 years.””
More at that top link.