The Civil Rights of the Young People Who Were Left Behind

Abcarian: Almost no one was spared in that racist conversation among top L.A. Latino officials, at their annual summer party at L.A.’s Palacio Nuevo. It was a time when the city’s Latinos were just starting to gain the power they long fought for on the Los Angeles Superior Court, the state’s largest probate court—and one of its most diverse.

But on Aug. 3 of this year, their voices were silenced when U.S. District Judge Manuel Real of San Diego, presiding over L.A.’s Central District Court, issued a preliminary injunction against a decision by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that temporarily halted a provision in the Secure Fence Act of 2006 that would have provided a 10-year-old girl with a $500,000 inheritance to pay for college.

For some, this was a painful moment—just as the civil rights of all of those young people whose lives were turned upside down by the events of 2006, who will be the subjects of the hearings that follow this preliminary injunction, who have been told to keep quiet now that it is too late for the full case to be heard on appeal, and who see the preliminary injunction as a last, desperate attempt to defend the reputations of those who have been subjected to what they were told were political attacks.

“I’m scared,” said a young woman I met over margaritas at the Palacio Nuevo on Monday night. “I’m sorry that I’m so scared.”

Judge Real’s injunction, in fact, was the end of the road for those people, who were now free to go on with their lives. The decision not to wait another year to appeal was made by federal law, and the people who were affected by it could pursue their legal interests elsewhere.

That is not to say that the decision was the end of the story. The L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services, which is responsible for ensuring the rights of children who are eligible for federal assistance, is currently challenging the preliminary injunction in federal court, and the federal court decision on that appeal, which is scheduled to hear in early December, could be a final blow to those

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