Nativo Lopez

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Nativo Lopez-Vigil is a Mexican American political leader and immigrant rights activist in Southern California. Lopez is the former national president of the Mexican American Political Association and the national director of the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana (formerly the Hermandad Mexicana Nacional), a community service and advocacy organization for Mexican and Latin American immigrants throughout the United States.


Lopez, born in Los Angeles, grew up in Norwalk, California. He became an activist in 1968, inspired by Bert Corona and Cesar Chavez. Prior to college at UCLA and Cal State University at Dominguez Hills, Lopez who was born Larry Nativo Lopez, changed his name to Nativo Vigil Lopez.[1] 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' licenses 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, informing parents of their rights under the new law to opt for bilingual education for their children. 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. Another issue involved in the recall campaign was the proposed construction of an elementary school in the wealthiest side of Santa Ana, but opposed by the majority wealthy Republican and conservative constituency of the city. Lopez was recalled by 71% of the voters and lost every single one of the 16 precincts were the ballots were cast, including areas with majority Latino voters.[2]

Lopez, backed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, filed a lawsuit against the petition and recall process, claiming the English-only petitions violated the Voting Rights Act [1]. California began providing Spanish-language ballots statewide in 2002, and local jurisdictions also provide multilingual election materials. But petitions, which are written by ordinary people hoping to change laws from the grass-roots level, are often available in English only [2].

The initial suit, Padilla v. Lever, sought to prevent the recall election from proceeding. The suit unsuccessfully sought an injunction to prevent the election from occurring, after the petition signatures had been collected and certified by Orange County elections officials. The district court denied the injunction. After the recall election took place and Lopez was recalled, the plaintiffs appealed to a 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit [3]. There, the idea that the recall election was illegal was originally upheld, although an en banc panel later overturned that decision.

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.[3][4][5][6] 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."

Indicted on Voter Fraud[edit]

On June 25, 2009, Lopez was charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office with four felonies: fraudulent voter registration, fraudulent document filing, perjury and fraudulent voting. Lopez allegedly leased office space in Boyle Heights and registered to vote using that address although he lived with his family in Orange County. It was further alleged that Lopez, former president of the Mexican American Political Assn., cast an illegal ballot in L.A. in the 2008 presidential primary based on the business domicile he used, but interpreted as disallowed by the L.A. County District Attorney's office. In a plea deal, Lopez pleaded guilty to one felony count of voter registration fraud related to the voter fraud charges. The seven other felony charges were dropped. Lopez was sentenced to one year probation by Judge William C. Ryan, and Lopez was further ordered to perform 400 hours of community service. {} Upon completing the terms of probation the felony count was expunged from the record.

After numerous attempts to set his preliminary hearing date during Los Angeles Superior Court hearings from February to May 2010 were postponed by Nativo Lopez's refusal to identify himself, including in Dept. 95, Mental Competency Court, Lopez was sent back to Dept. 36, where his preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 12, 2010.


  1. ^ Eng, Lily (July 1, 1990). "Point Man for County Latinos Activism: Nativo Lopez is county director of Hermandad Mexicana Nacional. But his influence in the community goes far beyond that role". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  2. ^ Ray, Herdon F. (February 6, 2003). "Ousted Santa Ana Trustee Lost Even His Latino Base". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  3. ^ ABC News article dated 1 May 2006: 1M Immigrants Skip Work for Demonstration Archived August 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ CNN article dated 12 December 2003: California Latino groups urge boycott
  5. ^ CNN article dated 30 April 2006: Millions expected to join walkout
  6. ^ CNN article dated 30 April 2006: Quick Guide & Transcript: Immigrants launch nationwide boycotts, Student robotics competition

See also[edit]