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Teens plan anti-governor march

Teens plan anti-governor march
By Edwin Garcia
Mercury News

A group of Bay Area teenagers has it in for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Angry that the movie star-turned-politician abolished a law that would have let illegal immigrants apply for driver's licenses, the teens are trying to persuade a million students to join them in a statewide protest against Schwarzenegger -- and anyone else who has opposed licenses for the undocumented.

Latino Focus, a Redwood City-based group of about 50 students, plans to boycott Schwarzenegger's movies, mount a large-scale voter registration campaign and organize a Million Student March on Cinco de Mayo, or May 5.

Most of the group's members have friends and relatives who don't qualify for driver's licenses because of their illegal status, so they are determined to show that Schwarzenegger is ``excluding immigrants from something they need to make their lives better,'' said Yvette Perez, 15, one of the group's leaders.

A spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger declined to comment on the effort, but suggested that the governor early next year may consider a new law, more restrictive than the one he repealed, to allow some illegal immigrants to obtain licenses.

Members of the Bay Area-wide Latino Focus will promote their cause during a two-day, statewide bus tour with their first stop at 9 a.m. Monday at San Jose's Tropicana Shopping Center. The teens will spread their message later in the day in San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento, before a final stop the next day at Olvera Street in Los Angeles, a Mexican theme plaza.

In addition to announcing the march, the youths will denounce a campaign by a political group known as Save Our State, which seeks to place an initiative on an upcoming ballot asking voters to ban public services for illegal immigrants, similar to what Proposition 187 intended to accomplish nine years ago.

While most teenagers would find organizing boycotts, marches and voter registration campaigns a daunting task, 15-year-old Erica Sandoval says ``it's not that difficult.'' Her father, Salvador Sandoval, founded Latino Focus 10 years ago to improve a Redwood City neighborhood rife with gunfire. The youths also are getting tips from the American Civil Liberties Union's Northern California Web site.

Erica is confident Schwarzenegger will get their point. ``We're going to hurt him in the pocket, we're not going to buy his movies,'' she said.

Schwarzenegger repealed the license law Dec. 3, less than a month before it was scheduled to go into effect. The repeal came after the Assembly and Senate voted to overturn it, and after polls showed that the law, approved by former Gov. Gray Davis, was unpopular across California.

Schwarzenegger's staff and aides to the law's author, state Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, are discussing a more restrictive version of the bill that could be introduced as early as January.

Schwarzenegger Press Secretary Margita Thompson said both parties ``will look into the issues further'' as long as the driver's license applicants can be screened ``for background checks and insurance.''


Students interested in joining the Latino Focus activities should e-mail Salvador Sandoval at: Leaders of the Million Student March will hold a public meeting at 9 a.m. Monday in San Jose, in the Newberry building of the Tropicana Shopping Center at Story and King roads.

Contact Edwin Garcia at or (408) 920-5432

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