Resource: No Brown Towns: Anti-Immigrant Ordinances and Equality of Educational Opportunity for Latina/os

By: Tom I. Romero, II

September 1, 2008

Journal of Gender, Race, & Justice

From the article: This article explores the impact of anti-immigration ordinances on the racialized reproduction, concentration, and ultimate exclusion of Latino students from equal educational opportunities in public schools. The first part of the article details the impact of such ordinances in influencing housing choice in selected metropolitan areas through the nation. In particular, this section examines the relationship between housing, education, race, and the substantive message that local and state anti-immigration measures are meant to convey. Though such ordinances have been carefully crafted not to run afoul of such decisions as Brown v. Board of Education or Plyler v. Doe, they have nevertheless directly contributed to highly segregated and color-conscious communities. The analysis concludes by considering how and why these efforts are disturbingly akin to the “sundown” ordinances that many Midwestern communities enacted in the first half of the twentieth century in response to an African-American diaspora from the American South. Though substantive differences between the two types of ordinances should not be minimized, this section argues how their common and continuing role in creating and perpetuating a multi-color line in the United States implicates the state on a variety of levels.

The second half of the article reexamines the body of educational jurisprudence from the last three decades in the context of the direct and deliberate efforts of municipal authorities and their citizenry to prevent the creation of a multi-racial community. While early cases involving both Latino citizens and non-citizens suggested the possibility of a truly multi-racial educational jurisprudence, the scope and trajectory of subsequent cases reinforced the erection of rigid color lines throughout the nation's cities and schools. Accordingly, the demographic transformation of the United States driven by Latino/as and other non-White groups should force us to challenge and reevaluate many of the assumptions undergirding the current body of educational jurisprudence, including most importantly the de jure versus de facto distinction. Without the will to do so, contemporary “anti-immigration” ordinances promise to render more impermeable and more pernicious residential segregation and educational inequity in a metropolitan America divided between “brown” and “white” communities.