How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Posts of the week: Deferred action, life as an American Sikh, Latino identity and the census, the plight of 'elder DREAMers,' more


Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A man holds a list of guidelines during a workshop on deferred action at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles, Aug. 14, 2012

A historic change in U.S. immigration policy occurred this week as young undocumented immigrants began applying on Wednesday for deferred action, a form of temporary legal status that is part of a new Obama administration policy. Well over a million people could qualify, and could also be eligible for work permits if they meet the requirements.

Most of the reporting this week focused on this, with a few extras. In case you missed any of these, a few highlights from the week:


‘And what do you call yourself…?’: Readers on the census and ethnic identity The U.S. Census Bureau has proposed changing how Latinos self-identify on census forms, potentially making them an exclusive category regardless of race. A few reactions from readers.


'Dream' jobs: Deferred action begins Wednesday (Audio) No Multi-American posts for Tuesday, as I was on radio duty, but this report from the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles took in some of anticipation before the start of deferred action as hopeful applicants attended a workshop.


More readers' thoughts on the term 'minorities'

Photo by Brandy Shaul/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A palette of shades beyond Crayola "peach."

A post recently asked readers to weigh in on a conversation that's been around for a while, but which became bigger this month after new census data revealed that non-Latino white babies in the United States are no longer the majority of new births.

Now that children born to black, Latino, Asian and other parents of color make up more than 50 percent of kids under the age of one, is the term "minorities" still relevant? Readers sent in their thoughts, which I posted last week. But more readers have chimed in since. Here's what they had to say.

Guest 3792 wrote:

How is the term "people of color" not seen as derogatory toward those it excludes? Wouldn't that frame whites as "people without color"?

And there was this quip from Rael:

We can be called the "Still Oppressed Despite the Numbers" people?


Is it time for a term to replace 'minorities?'

Photo by Brandy Shaul/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A palette of shades beyond Crayola "peach."

Sometime in July 2010, non-Latino white babies in the United States ceased to be the majority of new births, with children born to black, Latino, Asian and other parents of color accounting for more than 50 percent of children younger than one last year.

And it begs the question: Do we keep calling these kids, and the racial and ethnic groups they belong to, "minorities?"

It's a conversation that's been brewing online since news of the historic demographic shift broke last week. One reader sent this tweet to me and another reporter who covered the story:

"As minority babies become majority, we can stop calling them 'minority babies.' Yes?"

Long before the latest census news, there's been back-and-forth over whether "minority" is still even relevant as groups considered minorities have grows in size and influence. In a follow-up last week, Rinku Sen of the social advocacy magazine


Second-generation nation: A look ahead as minority babies become a majority

Photo by David Herholz/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Babies nap in a hospital nursery, February 2010

It doesn't come as shocking news that for the first time in U.S. history, the majority of the babies being born in the United States are members of Latino, black, Asian and other minority groups. When the 2010 census was taken in April of that year, this number was nearing 50 percent; according to new reports, the tipping point came three months later, in July 2010. By last year, 50.4 percent of children under the age of one belonged to groups considered minorities.

The news falls within a bigger picture: Many of these babies are second-generation Americans born to immigrants. And as the 2010 census showed us, it is the children of immigrants who are boosting the growth of the dominant-minority Latino population, which is no longer fueled so much by immigration. The historic immigration boom from Mexico of the late 20th century has died down, immigrants from there and elsewhere who have chosen to stay in the U.S. are staying long-term, and their children are becoming the new face of the U.S.


How the Latino/Hispanic label still fails to stick

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Spotted on a car window in L.A., February 2011

It's been approximately four decades since the origin of the "Hispanic" ethnic identity category on census forms, later updated to "Hispanic, Latino or of Spanish Origin." And it's been argued that in the years since, while Hispanic/Latino is not a racial category, the term itself has forced a racialization of Latinos in spite of their being so culturally and racially diverse, they defy a cohesive definition.

It's the latter point that's driven home in a new Pew Hispanic Center report. As it turns out, all these years later, a majority of Latinos still prefer to buck a one-size-fits-all label, tending instead to identify by country of origin.

According to the Pew study, 51 percent of those surveyed said they most often identify themselves by their family's country of origin, while only 24 percent prefer to use a pan-ethnic label. And more than two-thirds described Latinos as having "different cultures rather than a common culture," according to a report summary.