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Hermandad goes on the offensive

Nativo Lopez calls governor 'hypocrite,' looks to expand to Los Angeles.

May 22, 2001

By MARIA SACCHETTI The Orange County Register

SANTA ANA -- Hermandad Mexicana Nacional on Monday unveiled a drive to advance immigrant rights, including a letter-writing campaign, identification cards for members and expansion into another Hermandad group's territory in Los Angeles.

Director Nativo Lopez said the letters would target Gov. Gray Davis, whom he called a hypocrite for vetoing bills last year that would have granted undocumented immigrants access to driver's licenses and in-state tuition for college.

"If the ally is behaving like an enemy of the people, then he is an enemy," said Lopez, a Democrat who last year donated $10,000 to Davis' campaign. "This depends on Davis, not us."

Davis spokesman Hilary McLean said the governor is willing to consider new legislation on these issues but is unlikely to change his mind if the bills are similar.

The immigrant-rights campaign is dedicated to the group's former leader, Bert Corona, who died earlier this year, Lopez said. Other goals include urging the federal government to legalize undocumented workers and ending cooperation between police and federal immigration officials. The group plans a demonstration at 6 p.m. May 29 - the anniversary of Corona's birth - at Anaheim City Hall.

Plans to open five offices in Los Angeles surprised Corona's widow, Angelina Corona, who directs Hermandad's offices there and has differed with Lopez over who should lead the organization.

"We have 10 offices already established, and in some areas they will be duplicating the work," she said. Hermandad in Los Angeles serves 50,000 members, she said.

Lopez, whose Santa Ana group is suspended by the Franchise Tax Board for failing to file tax returns, said his group is organizing more aggressively. He said it now has 80,000 members.