How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

So-called 'birthing houses' have become more commonplace in SoCal

Photo by johnwilliamsphd/Flickr (Creative Commons)

So-called "birthing houses" cater to foreign women who wish to have their babies in the United States so they'll have U.S. citizenship. In the San Gabriel Valley city of Arcadia, police say that about a dozen small-scale operations have been discovered in three years.

The so-called "birthing houses" that federal agents searched throughout Southern California yesterday are part of what some say is a growing phenomenon.

Authorities searched apartment complexes in Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties Tuesday, where suspected "maternity tourism" operators housed women from China who were intent on delivering their babies in the United States, for a hefty fee.

In the San Gabriel Valley, cops say these operations have become relatively commonplace.

"People within the city...will call and say they have been noticing a growing number of pregnant women walking around our neighborhood, and they seem to be coming and going out of this particular residence," said  Lt. Roy Nakamura with the Arcadia Police Department.

For about three years, the department has charged a detective with investigating these reports. Nakamura says that since then, cops in Arcadia alone have uncovered about a dozen small-scale operations in rental homes, housing five or six women, often Chinese nationals.

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In immigration news: DHS gets funding, ICE had tried to deport man shot in Skid Row, executive action deportation fears, more

Skid Row protest

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

About 150 people protest fatal Skid Row LAPD shooting outside police headquarters Tuesday. The homeless man who was shot went by the name Charley Saturmin Robinet. But there are questions about his true identity, and questions about his nationality derailed efforts by U.S. officials to deport him in 2013.

House Votes To Fund DHS Until Sept. 30 — Without Immigration Curbs - NPR The House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that funds the Department of Homeland Security through the end of its fiscal year. The bill contained no restrictions related to immigration; earlier on, House Republicans tried to tie DHS funding to President Obama's executive immigration order in hopes of undoing it. Obama is expected to sign the legislation.

Skid Row police shooting update: ICE had ordered Robinet deported - Southern California Public Radio The homeless man killed in a recent altercation with police on Los Angeles' Skid Row went by the name Charley Saturmin Robinet. He had been convicted of bank robbery and was ordered deported in April 2013. But questions over his nationality presented problems. Plans were to deport him to France, where he claimed to be from; French officials discovered he was from Cameroon. U.S. officials said they tried to obtain travel documents from Cameroon but had no cooperation. He was released from ICE custody later that year.

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In immigration news: DHS funding bill, ripple effect on local agencies, executive action and taxes, more

A cargo ship stands on Long Beach

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

A cargo ship at the Port of Long Beach. Ports rely on Department of Homeland Security grant funding to help pay for their own security operations. Congress has yet to agree on legislation that would fund the department beyond Friday. If there is a DHS shutdown, ports and other local agencies fear some of their grant money could be held up.

House to vote on bill to fully fund Homeland Security - Washington Post The House is prepared to vote Tuesday on a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security through the rest of the fiscal year, until the end of September. From the story: "The measure will not target President Obama's executive actions on immigration, giving Democrats what they have long demanded and potentially enraging conservatives bent on fighting the president on immigration." DHS funding has been hung up in this battle; its was set to run out after last Friday but was extended one week.

DHS funding crisis could have ripple effect on local ports - Southern California Public Radio Just as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach recover from months of slow operations after a labor dispute, the Homeland Security budget battle in Washington threatens possible funding snags. Port officials rely on federal grant money to help pay for their security operations. If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund DHS by the end of this week and the agency goes into partial shutdown, some grant money could be held up. Other local agencies could also be affected.

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DHS funding crisis could have ripple effect on local ports

Cargo ships at the Port of Long Beach

Stock Photo: Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Cargo carriers at the Port of Long Beach, which along with the Port of Los Angeles is just recovering from months of slow operations following a labor dispute. Local ports are now readying themselves for a possible Department of Homeland Security shutdown. Congress has yet to agree on legislation that would fund the department beyond Friday. Port officials fear DHS grant funding that helps them pay for security could be held up.

Just as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach recover from months of slow operations after a labor dispute, a budget battle in Washington threatens new snags.

Port officials rely on federal grant money to help pay for their security operations. But funding from the Department of Homeland Security, which disburses the grants, is hung up in a Congressional budget battle. The department is funded only through Friday. If Congress fails to pass a bill, and the agency goes into partial shutdown, some of this grant money could be held up.

“Security and maintenance systems is paid for substantially through federal grant funding," said Randy Parsons, security director for the Port of Long Beach. "And if those systems aren’t kept up and running properly, we’re at quite a disadvantage.”

These security systems include closed-circuit television and radar to track the movement of ships, he said. Federal grant money is even used to cover overtime for security personnel.

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In immigration news: Homeland Security funding, immigrants and the poultry industry, Caribbean immigrants, more

Ruxandra Guidi/KPCC

Inside a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Los Angeles, April 2012. The agency is part of the Department of Homeland Security, whose budget is part of an ongoing Congressional battle over President Obama's immigration order. But the agency is mostly funded by user fees, meaning it does not rely on Congressional appropriations.

Why a DHS shutdown won’t stop Obama’s immigration orders - Washington Post Among other things, the agency that would carry out Obama's immigration plan does not rely on Congressional funding. From the story: "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Homeland Security agency responsible for deportations, draws about 95 percent of its annual budget from application fees. That means the agency can largely survive without appropriations." Obama's immigration order remains on hold as the administration appeals a court ruling.

In Solidarity: When Caribbean Immigrants Become Black - NBC News Children of Caribbean immigrants grow up in a different cultural setting than black Americans, but their experiences shape their assimilation. From the piece: "By the second generation many black immigrants find they have become black Americans. The clipped cadences and other linguistic markers that once identified their parents as foreign have faded."

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