How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

In immigration news: Cities push for citizenship, confirmation hearing for new ICE chief, immigration and tight Senate races, more

Immigration Ceremony

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New U.S. citizens take their oath at a naturalization ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The mayors of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are kicking off an initiative to encourage more legal permanent residents to become citizens.

Saldaña confirmation hearing opens on friendly note, despite rancor on immigration - Dallas Morning News President Obama has nominated Sarah Saldaña, a U.S. Attorney based in Dallas, to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Saldaña would be the first Latina to run the agency, which is responsible for carrying out deportations and other immigration enforcement. Her confirmation hearing before a Senate committee opened Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Push for Immigrants to Become Citizens - Wall Street Journal The mayors of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago plan to kick off an initiative Wednesday that aims to to encourage more legal residents to naturalize. From the story: "The initiative, titled 'Cities for Citizenship,' will help the three cities expand naturalization programs and other ventures dedicated to helping immigrants secure their financial footing through counseling, legal assistance and microloans."

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In immigration news: Migrant child trauma, fewer border deaths, workplace exploitation, more

Immigrants Processed At The McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas

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Immigrants caught crossing the Texas border illegally are detained at the McAllen Border Patrol Station this summer.

For migrant kids, past traumas are hard to escape - and early intervention is key - Southern California Public Radio  It's been years since they came as child migrants, but for some young people they are still struggling with the trauma of their pasts and the often-tumultuous journey to the US. Their stories open a window into the future faced by the some 2,000 child migrants who've come to the US in the last year and settled with family in Los Angeles County, pending their court cases in immigration court.

Border agency reports fewer immigrant deaths - Los Angeles Times U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that are migrant deaths have dropped along the Southwest border, despite the fact that the number of people crossing Texas and Arizona went up this summer. But immigrant rights advocates counter that the death toll numbers are down because officials aren't searching for remains. Eddie Canales of the South Texas Human Rights Center said he knew of at least eight men who were missing, left behind a group traveling through in June.

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For migrant kids, past traumas are hard to escape — and early intervention is key

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

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Central American migrants bound for the United States ride atop a freight train in Mexico. Mental health providers and school officials say it's important to reach recently-arrived child migrants from Central America, many of whom witnessed violence back home and along the way to the U.S.

Once a week in Pico-Union, a group of former child migrants gathers in the community room of a housing complex. They talk about their week: Their lives, their jobs, their relationships — and the emotional scars that dog them as young people who left home on their own at an early age, seeking a better life in the United States.

One 20-year-old, Ulyses, who arrived at 13 says he's haunted by feelings of abandonment from when his mother left him in the care of a friend, when he was still a baby.

Another, a 21-year-old named Oscar, can’t shake the memory of the two exhausted companions he had to leave behind in the Arizona desert back in 2009, when he was 16. He’s convinced they died. Oscar says he's suffered from depression since not long after arriving. While he can work and otherwise function, he's often felt a crushing sense of isolation.

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In immigration news: Voter polls, school for detained kids, Colorado driver's license glitch, more

Familes and Children Held In U.S. Customs and Border Protection Processing Facility

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Two young girls watch a World Cup soccer match on TV at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center on June 18, 2014, in Nogales, Arizona. A new poll of California voters has 48 percent saying that unaccompanied minors who arrived illegally in the U.S. should stay while awaiting immigration hearings; 46 percent say they should be quickly repatriated.

POLITICO poll: GOP has edge on immigration in midterms - Politico A Politico poll finds that "35 percent of voters in the most competitive House and Senate races this fall said they approved of how Obama has dealt with immigration, compared with 64 percent who said they disapproved of the president’s handling of the issue. And by a narrow margin, more voters said they trust the GOP over Democrats on immigration."

Voters split on whether children crossing border illegally should stay - USC News According to a University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times poll, 48 percent of California voters polled said that unaccompanied minors who entered the U.S. illegally should be allowed to stay "months or years while awaiting a hearing." Forty-six percent said they should be repatriated immediately. Among non-Latino white voters, 44 percent said they should be allowed to stay and 51 percent said they should be repatriated. Among Latinos, 66 percent said they should be able to stay, and 48 percent that they should be sent back.

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Growing up Nisei: The social clubs of Japanese-American girls

Nisei social clubs

Courtesy of Sumi Hughes

Members of Just Us Girls, a social club for Japanese-American girls, pose in Boyle Heights.

Nisei social club

Josie Huang/KPCC

Several members of Just Us Girls try to meet every couple months at the Pasadena home of fellow member Sumi Hughes, for dinner and poker night.

Nisei social club

Josie Huang/KPCC

Sumi Hughes, 81, was known as one of the group's best dancers.

Nisei social club

Josie Huang/KPCC

Teresa Montelongo of Monterey Park says her fellow J.U.G.'s comes naturally, even after long separations - like riding a bike, or swimming.

Nisei social club

Josie Huang/KPCC

Just Us Girls members Yuri Long (l.) of Inglewood serves apple pie brought by Sumiko Long of Reseda.

Nisei social club

Josie Huang/KPCC

Sumi Hughes keeps photos of fellow Just Us Girls members, some of whom have since died.

Nisei social clubs

Courtesy of Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga.

Dancing was a focus for social clubs, like Junior Misses of which Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga (third from left) was a member.

Nisei social club

Josie Huang/KPCC

Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga would like to have a reunion with fellow members of Junior Misses but says she's only able to locate a couple.

Nisei social club

Courtesy of the Atomettes

Social club the Atomettes of the West LA United Methodist Church helped to propel the tradition of bazaars.

Nisei social club

Josie Huang/KPCC

Rose Honda served as an advisor to the Atomettes, who are now working on writing a book about their history.

Nisei social club

Josie Huang/KPCC

UCLA historian Valerie Matsumoto gave a talk at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute on her book 'City Girls: The Nisei Social World in Los Angeles' which features Rose Honda.


As pompadoured teenagers, the members of the Japanese-American social club Just Us Girls seized on all the nightlife 1940's Los Angeles had to offer. 

They rode the streetcar to the Million Dollar Theater to see big bands. They danced into the night to Louis Armstrong. Sumi Hughes, then known as Sumi Fukushima, was particularly light-footed.

"I always had boyfriends who were good dancers," Hughes, 81, explained. "That was a prerequisite."

From the 1920's through the 1950s, Los Angeles abounded with hundreds of Japanese-American social clubs for second-generation or Nisei young people, especially girls. It was a social phenomenon that allowed the daughters of strict immigrant parents to explore their American identity.

"I’m sure parents thought it was one way to keep an eye on their daughters and know who their friends were," said UCLA historian Valerie Matsumoto, who wrote about these clubs in her book City Girls: The Nisei Social World in Los Angeles.

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