The Phoenix Rises from El Cenizo: A Community Creates and Affirms a Latino/a Border Cultural Citizenship through its Language and Safe Haven Ordinances

32 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2008  

Maria Pabon Lopez

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Date Written: August 6, 2008

Abstract

When a small Texas border town of seven thousand, El Cenizo, adopted an ordinance mandating that all city functions, meetings and notices shall be conducted and posted in the predominant language of the community, which is Spanish, a media firestorm ensued. The Ku Klux Klan threatened to burn the town down and have its residents sent back to Mexico. Two nationally syndicated disc jockeys ("shock jocks") based in Virginia called El Cenizo City Hall while on the air, and publicly insulted a city commissioner telling her that anyone who will not or cannot speak English should "get on their burros and go back to Mexico." Critics have called El Cenizo "the next Quebec," "the canary in the mine," and have described the city's actions as "benign disassimilation." The Mayor and Commissioners of El Cenizo defended their actions by indicating that they did so at the request of the community. They note that as a result of the ordinance, they have seen an increase in the level of civic participation of their constituents, In addition, residents now feel safer in their community because of a "Safe Haven" ordinance. This ordinance, enacted on the same day the City passed the Predominant Language Ordinance, prohibits the City's elected officials and employees from disclosing, investigating or requesting information concerning a resident's immigration status. This article analyzes the constitutionality of both ordinances, contextualizes them as a form of Latino cultural citizenship and finally, offers some lessons to be learned from what happened in El Cenizo.

Keywords: Latino, border cultural citizenship, Spanish language, Texas, Le Cenizo, safe haven ordinances, predominant language, Ku Klux Klan, Predominant Language Ordinance, Latino culture, Safe Haven ordinance, Immigration Law, immigrants

JEL Classification: K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Lopez, Maria Pabon, The Phoenix Rises from El Cenizo: A Community Creates and Affirms a Latino/a Border Cultural Citizenship through its Language and Safe Haven Ordinances (August 6, 2008). Denver University Law Review, Vol. 78, No. 4, 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1209402

Maria Pabon Lopez (Contact Author)

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law ( email )

7214 St Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
74
rank
298,160
Abstract Views
764
PlumX