LOS ANGELES – Please attribute the following statement marking the passing of Nativo Lopez, an outspoken activist who established the Santa Ana chapter of Hermandad Mexicana National and spoke out on behalf of immigrants’ rights, to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):
“MALDEF mourns the passing of the incomparable Nativo Lopez, who pushed so many activists to take stronger and more aggressive positions on the rights of all immigrants in California.
“MALDEF was proud to represent Latino voters who challenged the circulation of recall petitions against Nativo Lopez because the petitions were circulated only in English in a district with many non-English-fluent voters entitled under federal law to have elections materials provided in Spanish. Although the en banc Ninth Circuit court eventually rejected the claims in the suit, California state law was later changed to provide more protection to voters entitled to bilingual assistance.
“Nativo lived to see the focus of much of his activism, Orange County, changed politically over a generation. In 2019, twenty-five years after passage of Proposition 1987 — many of whose purported authors came from Orange County — the area now has a congressional delegation transformed from a quarter century ago. Although the recall brought an end to Nativo’s own career as an elected official, he made an indelible contribution to the changes in Orange County and beyond.”