How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

An exception for 'the help' in an anti-illegal immigration bill: good, bad, or ugly reality?

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A detail from a mural in London, June 2006

An anti-illegal immigration bill introduced recently in Texas proposing tough state sanctions against employers who hire unauthorized workers makes an exception: It's okay to hire an undocumented maid, gardener, or other employee "for the purpose of obtaining labor or other work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence."

Since its introduction late last month, its sponsor state Rep. Debbie Riddle, who is known for having a particularly tough-on-immigration stance (and perhaps best for the term "terror babies"), has received a fair amount of criticism and perhaps an equal share of ridicule, while others have praised her for being realistic.

After all, as evidenced by the undocumented housekeeper scandal that helped derail the campaign of California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman last fall, few Americans are immune from the underground economy. The proposed Texas law threatens to punish employers with up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, so including those who hire domestic help as offenders could mean a lot of Texans in hot water, no doubt a few politicos among them.

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Quote of the moment: NCLR's Martinez De Castro on what motivates Latino voters

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A multilingual sign points the way to a polling place, November 2006


"Much has been made about Latino enthusiasm around voting on Tuesday, suggesting that low enthusiasm means 'not voting.' Well, here's the thing: I am voting on Tuesday, but I would hardly describe my mood as 'enthusiastic.'

"All to say that there are different factors vying for Latino attention--some could dampen participation, some could energize it--and the way that candidates define themselves on the issues makes a difference to those energy levels."

- Clarissa Martinez De Castro, director of immigration and national campaigns for the National Council of La Raza, in the Huffington Post


Martinez's opinion piece made the Twitter rounds this weekend. In it she wrote about about the varied perceptions of Latino voters as either a) a solid voting block, aligned on issues and focused chiefly on immigration (which they are not); b) no different than the rest of the electorate, without common interests (which they are also not).

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Quote of the moment: Meg Whitman on why ex-housekeeper should be deported

"Well, the answer is: It breaks my heart, but she should be deported, because she forged documents and she lied about her immigration status."

- Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for governor, regarding her former maid Nicandra Diaz Santillan in an interview last night with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren


Whitman's remark was in response to a direct question from Van Susteren while discussing her former housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan. "Should she be deported?" Van Susteren asked.

The scandal that erupted last month over Whitman's employing Diaz, an undocumented immigrant, for nine years then firing her last year after deciding to run for governor has threatened to derail her campaign against Democratic candidate and state Attorney General Jerry Brown, causing her to lose ground in particular among Latino voters.

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The ten (or eleven) political races in which the Latino vote may count the most

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At a polling place in San Francisco, November 2008

Because everyone loves a good list, here's an interesting one that the San Francisco Chronicle posted today on its politics blog: The 10 political races in which the Latino vote will be decisive this Nov. 2.

At the top of the list is the Nevada senate race, in which Democratic incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is running against Republican challenger Sharron Angle. Two California races also made the list, including the race for the 47th Congressional District in Orange County in which Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a Democrat, is up against Republican rival Van Tran, a Vietnamese-American member of the state assembly.

Also on the list is the California senate race. From the post:

Republican Carly Fiorina narrowly trails incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer in the latest polls. Boxer is counting on strong support from the state's sizable Mexican-American population to put her over the top on Election Day. Boxer may benefit from a Latino backlash against Republicans following gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman's controversy over hiring — and firing — a housekeeper who was in the country illegally.

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