How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Former 'comfort women' tour L.A. to call attention to WW II sex slavery

Comfort women in LA

Josie Huang/KPCC

Ok-Seon Lee (l.) and Il-Chul Kang (r.) are touring the U.S. calling attention to the plight of former sex slaves during World War II known as 'comfort women.' Their first stop was in L.A. to file declarations of support for a monument to comfort women in Glendale.

Comfort women in LA

Josie Huang/KPCC

Phyllis Kim is the executive director of the Korean American Forum of California, and will be accompanying the two former 'comfort women' on their U.S. tour.

Comfort women in LA

Josie Huang/KPCC

Ok-Seon Lee, 87, is one of 54 surviving 'comfort women' in Korea, according to the Korean-American Forum of California.

A lawsuit to remove a monument to World War II sex slaves in Glendale took on a new twist this week when two former ‘comfort women’ flew in from Korea to offer declarations of support in court. 

Both Il-Chul Kang and Ok-Seon Lee recount how as teens, they were abducted by Japanese soldiers to work as sex slaves. Now they’re in their late 80s, sloped in shoulder and slow-moving.

Outside federal court in downtown L.A., Kang said it’s important they come to the US to show their appreciation for the Glendale monument, and others like it.  

"Thank you for erecting the peace monument and thank you for trying to protect the peace monument," Kang said before a group of reporters, mostly from Korean media.

About a year ago, Glendale worked with local Korean American Forum of California to install a bronze statue of a young comfort woman in a city park.  In February, a group of conservative older Japanese-Americans sued the city, demanding the statue’s removal. 


In immigration news: Illegal immigration still low, human smugglers laundering money, Latinos still feeling recession, more



The fence along the U.S.-Mexico border between the Otay Mesa and San Ysidro ports of entry in and near San Diego, California, across from Tijuana, Mexico. In spite of the recent crush of Central American minors and families arriving at the border, illegal immigration overall is still low compared with the all-time high seen in 2000.

Despite Crush of Children, Illegal Immigration Low - Associated Press A reality check as Central American minors and families arrive at the border: "In the last budget year, Border Patrol agents arrested about 420,000 people, most of them along the Mexican border. That followed a three-year trend of near record low numbers of apprehensions...The number of people being arrested at the border remains dramatically lower than the all-time high of more than 1.6 million people in 2000."

U.S. investigators focus on money laundering linked to border crisis - Los Angeles Times From the story: "Agents from the Department of Homeland Security and the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, are targeting suspicious patterns of deposits and withdrawals through 'funnel accounts' held at U.S. banks, according to two federal law enforcement officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the topic. Human-smuggling rings are using such bank transactions to fund their activities, officials said."


Banc of California expansion opposed by advocates for minorities, low-income

Banc of California

David Valenzeula via Flickr Creative Commons

Irvine-based Banc of California's bid to acquire 20 branches from Banco Popular is facing opposition from advocates for low-income and minority communities.

Irvine-based Banc of California is making a bid to become one of the region’s largest homegrown banks, but advocates representing minorities and low-income communities are doing what they can to stop those plans. 

Groups led by the California Reinvestment Coalition are asking federal regulators to deny Banc of California’s application to acquire 20 Popular Community Bank branches from Puerto Rico-based Banco Popular.

Banco Popular is getting out of the California market after years of catering to Latino and Asian clienteles in cities such as L.A., Montebello and Garden Grove. Consumer advocates are worried Banc of California will not properly serve the less affluent clients it will inherit, some of whom are immigrants who had never banked before they opened accounts at Popular Community Bank.


Poll: Recession may be over, but not for Latino families

money dollars bills change coins

Photo by Bill Dickinson via Flickr Creative Commons

A new poll points to how in spite of the economic recovery, many Latino families aren’t confident about regaining their own economic footing.

A new poll points to how in spite of the economic recovery, many Latino families aren’t confident about regaining their own economic footing.

The poll was released Monday by the National Council of La Raza, which is holding its annual conference this week in downtown Los Angeles. The study, conducted by NCLR and the Latino Decisions polling firm, took in the attitudes of 500 Latino registered voters.
More than half of those surveyed earlier this month said they are anxious about someone in their household losing a job; half said that during the past year, they feared not having enough to pay basic monthly bills. And in spite of the housing recovery, a third said they still worry about losing their homes to foreclosure.
“Only 37 percent of Latinos, barely over one third, say their financial situation has gotten better," said pollster Matt Barretto of Latino Decisions. "In fact, 25 percent, a quarter of Latinos, say things have actually gotten worse."
Another 37 percent surveyed said their financial picture has remained static since the downturn.
Latinos and African American families were disproportionately hit during the housing crisis and ensuing recession, as many fell victim to predatory lending that cost them their homes. Several studies have shown a growing wealth gap between these Americans and non-Latino whites that has only widened since the recession began.
Yet many of the Latinos surveyed said they still hope to achieve what they see as the "American Dream." For 53 percent, the key to this is owning a home; 61 percent surveyed said it means owning a business. Almost all said a key component is creating opportunities for one's children.


In immigration news: Perry to deploy National Guard, flood of court cases, deferred action


Jacquelyn Martin/AP

President Barack Obama, right, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry shake hands as Obama arrives in Dallas to attend a meeting on immigration on July 9, 2014.

Perry to send 1,000 National Guard troops to border - CNN Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he plans to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the state's border with Mexico to staunch the flow of migrant children coming from Central America. Perry will also reportedly "call on President Barack Obama and Congress to hire an additional 3,000 border patrol agents for the Texas border." The two men met earlier this month over unaccompanied minors. In an interview with CNN, Perry would not say whether he would support Obama's request for $3.7 billion in emergency funds from Congress to address the influx of migrant children.

Immigration courts bracing for influx of youth migrants - USAToday This report takes you inside an immigration court in San Antonio, where every Wednesday a judge hears juvenile cases. From the story: "Some had attorneys; others were there alone. All were from Central America." The juvenile cases are straining an immigration court system that already has a record backlog of about 375,000 cases, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research group at Syracuse University.