How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Posts of the week: Prosecutorial discretion, 'undocumented' at the Oscars, which immigrants live where, states with Arizona-style laws, more

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Natalie Portman presenting the Oscar for Best Actor at the 84th Annual Academy Awards, where she used the term "undocumented" in her speech, February 26, 2012

The news this week has ranged from how a celebrity used the word "undocumented" during a speech at the Oscars to whether the Obama administration's new deportation guidelines are affecting the caseload in the nation's immigration courts.

That, and something we knew already: An increasingly multiracial Southern California continues to be the destination of choice for people from around the world. Meanwhile, other states' foreign-born populations have skyrocketed in recent years, but in some cases the welcome hasn't been quite as warm lately, at least not in the statehouse.

In case you missed any of these, here are the posts of the week.

Monday

Is prosecutorial discretion leading to fewer deportation cases? A Syracuse University report using data from the nation's immigration courts shows a drop in the number of new deportation cases filed, although immigration officials point out that court stats don't paint the overall picture. The Obama administration issued new discretionary guidelines for immigration officials last year, and a program to review existing deportation cases kicked off last fall. Experts say it's too soon to say if there's a trend. But it all begs the question: How is prosecutorial discretion being applied?

Tuesday

'Undocumented' (vs. 'illegal') at the Oscars The debate over which term is the most appropriate to describe immigrants living in the U.S. without permission took a new turn Sunday night at the Academy Awards. Actress Natalie Portman used the word "undocumented" when introducing the nominees for Best Actor, one of whom was actor Demián Bichir, nominated for his role as an immigrant gardener in the film "A Better Life." The AP Stylebook still holds "illegal immigrant" as the preferred term for media, viewed by some as too politically charged.

Wednesday

Which immigrants live where, mapped Where do immigrants from particular nations tend to settle in the United States? A series of maps put together with census data illustrates where immigrants from Mexico, China, India and the Philippines live; a second set shows where immigrants from Vietnam, El Salvador, Cuba and Korea have put down roots. Not surprisingly, five of the eight immigrant groups – excluding those from China, India and Cuba – are most highly concentrated in the L.A. metropolitan region. But we already knew that.

Thursday

What is a multiracial city? Southern California has a growing number of them A new University of Southern California study finds that cities with "significant populations of at least two and as many as four major racial groups," defined as multiracial cities, have been on the rise throughout Southern California in the last 20 years as demographics have shifted. More than 61 percent of the cities in the region are now home to two or more of the major racial groups identified in the study: white, black, Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander.

Friday

Four of the top 10 states with biggest immigrant population growth now have Arizona-style laws Ten states have experienced at least 280 percent growth in their foreign-born populations since 1990, according to the Migration Policy Institute, which recently mapped these states. The majority of these are in the South, which has become an immigration battleground lately as more states approve their own enforcement laws. Of the top 10 states, four (Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Utah) have recently enacted stringent Arizona-style anti-illegal immigration laws.

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