How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Will LA County's Latinos get more political clout, one way or another?

Art by Eric Fischer/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A color-coded ethnicity map of the Los Angeles area, based on census data

UPDATE: Los Angeles County Supervisors have voted down the plans 4 to 1 that would create a second Latino-majority district, so it's likely the matter will now go to court. 

Will Latinos in Los Angeles County wake up tomorrow with greater political representation via a new Latino-majority supervisorial district? It seems unlikely as the county Board of Supervisors votes tonight, and a court battle may be in order. But there have been substantial fireworks in getting to this point, and there will be more.

At issue is whether the county, which is nearly 50 percent Latino, should have a second Latino-majority district in addition to the one represented by county Supervisor Gloria Molina. She is the only Latino member of the five-member County Board of Supervisors. She and Latino advocacy groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) have long held that the county's Latino residents are grossly underrepresented.


MALDEF staying neutral on Kagan confirmation


Photo by Talk Radio News/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Elena Kagan at a Senate confirmation hearing

In an unusual move, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) has decided not to endorse the likely confirmation of Elena Kagan as Supreme Court Justice, opting to take a neutral position.

In a Huffington Post piece published this afternoon, MALDEF president and general counsel Thomas A. Saenz wrote: "The decision to take a neutral position on the confirmation was not easy, and several prominent members of MALDEF's board strongly advised support for Kagan's confirmation."

The modern confirmation process is partly to blame, as is scant record of the U.S. Solicitor General's views due to her work in government service and academia, Saenz wrote:

The outcome arises largely from the way the Supreme Court confirmation process has developed over the last quarter century. Simply put, that process no longer elicits much in the way of useful additional information about a nominee; instead it has devolved into a predictable battle of partisan sound-bites, many of them resting on half-truth and unsupported assumption.

Added to this un-illuminating process is a nominee whose admirable legal career is marked by government service, where a public lawyer's own views are generally not recorded or retained; and a tenure in academia, where, aside from scholarly production in a limited subject-matter arena, views and activities also are not recorded. All of this means that, through no particular fault of the candidate's own, the record lacks an indication that Kagan has an understanding and appreciation of some of the major legal issues of concern to many in the Latino community, such as immigration, language services, and the use of race-linked proxies for discrimination.


Rage Against the Machine, Ry Cooder raise funds to fight Arizona immigration law

Rage Against The Machine @ Vegoose 2007

Scott Penner, Flickr

Rage Against The Machine @ Vegoose 2007

A musical boycott of Arizona by a growing roster of prominent bands and musicians who are opposed to SB 1070, the strict anti-illegal immigration law set to take effect in the Grand Canyon State next week, is developing into a creative fundraising effort by some of the artists participating.

The veteran activist rap-rockers Rage Against the Machine will play their first Los Angeles show in a decade this Friday at the Hollywood Palladium, with proceeds to benefit two Arizona immigrant rights organizations. This afternoon 89.3 KPCC’s Patt Morrison interviewed lead guitarist Tom Morello, along with United Farm Workers co-founder and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, about the boycott and the show.

A month ago, Ry Cooder released a single, "Quicksand," on iTunes, with proceeds to benefit the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), one of several plaintiffs – among them the federal government – that have filed suit in federal court challenging the Arizona measure. The next hearing in the federal government lawsuit is set for tomorrow in Phoenix.