In 1994, California's Proposition 187 passed with 59% of the vote. It was designed to help stop illegal immigration by denying non-emergency public services to illegal aliens.
According to various sources, Prop 187 is responsible for making most Hispanics in California into Democratic voters. The subtext of their remarks is that in order to get the "Hispanic vote", Republicans must avoid similar measures.
What they invariably forget to mention is that two months before the vote, 187 was leading among Latinos 52% to 42% (11/24/97 "California's Latino Divide Over Bilingual Education").
Then, according to a Field Poll (PDF), it was opposed by Latino voters 73% to 27%.
It's not possible to determine exactly why there was such a disparity, but some possible factors would include missteps by supporters, such as some sending the message that they opposed immigration or Hispanics in general.
And, the opponents of 187 spread a wide variety of lies, and calls to ethnic solidarity might have played a role.
The lesson to be learned is not that proposals such as 187 are bad, but that they need to be handled correctly. And, when the other side is dominated by far-lefties who wave Mexican flags, why that is wrong needs to be pointed out.
The message from those who try to teach the wrong lesson is that the Republicans should give in to far-left racial solidarity groups and do what they want. Hardly a conservative lesson.
Note also that in 2004, the similar Proposition 200 passed with 56% of the vote in Arizona. The CNN exit poll shows 47% of Latinos voting to support that proposition.
Perhaps those who try to offer the 187 lesson should look to 200 as an example of how they're wrong.
More on 187:
More on 200:
[Hoffenbloom] also said that hard-liners might be on the rise within a Republican Party that has tried for years to win back Latino voters turned off by Proposition 187 in 1994... "Some of us said we thought we learned our lesson in 1994," he said. "But now some hard-core immigrant-bashers are creeping back."
...[the California] GOP blew itself up twelve years ago when then-Governor Pete Wilson slyly surfed the anti-immigrant wave of Prop 187. Wilson got re-elected but the party crashed. A Latino and centrist backlash has since made it nigh impossible for a Republican to get elected to statewide office.