How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

In immigration news: Jerry Brown goes to Mexico, refugee status weighed for Hondurans, border crisis bill, more

Governor Brown Declares Statewide Drought Emergency

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California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference on January 17, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. Brown will be in Mexico this week, with plans to discuss the border migrant crisis with religious leaders and to meet with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto.

Jerry Brown to meet in Mexico with religious leaders on immigration crisis - Sacramento Bee California Gov. Gov. Jerry Brown will be in Mexico this week, meeting to discuss the border migrant crisis with religious leaders. He also plans to meet with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. From the story: "Brown told reporters in Sacramento last week that he wants to 'deal with some of the issues on the refugees' when he is in Mexico, but he did not say what, if anything, that might include."

The new land of opportunity for immigrants is Germany - Washington Post Germany has reportedly surpassed other countries to become the second-biggest destination for immigrants next to the United States. These days, "the government is rolling out a red carpet by simplifying immigration procedures, funding free language classes, even opening “ welcome centers” for newcomers looking to carve out a piece of the German dream."


Guatemalan teen migrant says gang members broke his leg, forced him to flee

U.S. Agents Take Undocumented Immigrants Into Custody Near Tex-Mex Border

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A mother and child, 3, from El Salvador await transport to a processing center for undocumented immigrants after they crossed the Rio Grande into the United States on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas. One teenage boy from Guatemala has taken his case to L.A. Superior Court in his attempt to stay in the U.S., saying he left Guatemala after gang members broke his leg.

As the White House and Congress debate plans for dealing with the unaccompanied minors and families arriving from Central America, one teenage boy from Guatemala has taken his case to Los Angeles Superior Court in his attempt to stay.

The boy, who is 17, is hoping to remain in Los Angeles with his older brother. He claims that his leg was broken after being beaten by gang members in his native country last year, after he endured harassment and intimidation for not joining the gang.

Although many youths arriving from Central America cite gang violence as a reason for leaving, this case starkly illustrates the brutality many have fled, said Alex Galvez, the boy's attorney. 

"I think what's unique about this case are the circumstances and the facts behind it," Galvez said. "This kid was actually attacked and had his leg broken by the gang because he refused to join the gang."


In immigration news: Central American leaders come to US, Obama and executive action, kids in immigration court, more

Central Americans Undertake Grueling Journey Through Mexico To U.S.

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Central American migrants ride north on top of a freight train on August 6, 2013 near Juchitan, Mexico. Thousands of Central American migrants ride the trains, known as 'la bestia', or the beast, during their long and perilous journey through Mexico to reach the U.S. border. This week, Central American leaders have come to Washington, D.C. meet with President Obama as children and families continue to flee violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Central American leaders want Washington’s help with immigration crisis - Washington Post Central American leaders have come to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Obama on the border migrant crisis as children and families flee violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Said Honduras’s Juan Orlando Hernández in an interview: “Your country has enormous responsibility for this...The problem of narco-trafficking generates violence, reduces opportunities, generates migration because this [the United States] is where there’s the largest consumption of drugs."

Obama's immigration flip flop - Politico President Obama says he plans to soon take some kind of action on immigration, which he's so far resisted. From the story: "Despite the flow of young Central American children across the southwestern border, Obama remains committed to taking significant action, according to senior advisers and advocates who have attended recent meetings with White House officials. In other words, Obama has signaled that he intends to do exactly what he’s long said he’s unable to do."


A look inside immigration court for children

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Graham Clark

A judge hears the cases of immigrant teens in Los Angeles earlier this week.

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Graham Clark

A teen girl from Guatemala appeared in immigration court. No translator could be provided to speak her preferred language, a Mayan dialect.

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Graham Clark

A 17 year-old boy appeared in immigration court, requesting to be deported to Mexico.

A couple of times a week, on the high floors of a bank building near Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles, immigration judges hear the cases of children and teens.

The juvenile court dockets within the already strained federal immigration court system have become increasingly busy lately, as more children and teens from Central America have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border solo or with family members. And in Los Angeles, where many of these kids are reunited with relatives within the region's large Central American community, it's not hard to get a sense of the demand.
There are two juvenile immigration court dockets in Los Angeles per week, one for detained children still in federal custody, the other for kids who have been released to family members.

One recent Thursday morning, attorney Kristen Jackson of Public Counsel, which represents some juvenile clients, studied the docket list posted outside the courtroom: 24 kids, all but one from Central America. She recalled how the released kids' docket didn't exist in Los Angeles until about five years ago.


Local Cambodians give testimony, await Khmer Rouge verdict

Survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime at a 2010 workshop in Long Beach. They learned how to submit written testimony to the war cimes tribunal in Cambodia currently prosecuting former high-level Khmer Rouge officials.

Khmer rouge ruling

ASRIC/Vanta El

Chanthan Pich, 73, contributed written testimony to the war cimes tribunal. She lost 17 family members during the four-year-long reign of the Khmer Rouge.

Khmer Rouge ruling

Josie Huang/KPCC

Roth Prom of Long Beach submitted testimony to the war tribunal. She said she has a lot of pent-up anger, and did not hesitate to participate.

Thirty-five years after the Khmer Rouge regime terrorized Cambodia, judgements are coming for two former senior officials charged with war crimes, and Chanthan Pich doesn't want to hear anything but "guilty" verdicts.

"Not guilty, no justice," Pich, 73, said.

Pich, part of Long Beach's Cambodian community, is deeply invested in the Aug. 7 court outcome. She is among thousands of Cambodians who started over in the U.S. after surviving Maoist-style Communist rule that left nearly two million people dead through starvation, disease, torture and execution.

She is also one of nearly 200 survivors in the U.S. who submitted written testimony to assist prosecutors in the U.N.-backed tribunal.

Some fellow survivors found it too painful to dredge up the memories needed to file their statements. There are those too disgusted with a court process that’s been plagued by delays and charges of corruption. Still others worry about retribution being visited on relatives in Cambodia if they gave their accounts on the record. Some former Khmer Rouge members are leaders within the current government.