How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Meet the immigrant Olympians

olympic flag

Photo by Department for Communities and Local Government/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Olympic flag in London, June 20, 2012

Did you know that more than three dozen members of Team USA competing in the Olympic games in London are naturalized U.S. citizens?

There's a list of them on ImmigrationImpact, the blog of the American Immigration Council, an immigrant advocacy organization. The 38 athletes were born in countries ranging from Mexico and Cuba to Kenya and Germany. A chart lists vital stats, including place of birth.

From the feature, here's a bit of background on a few of them. The athletes are immigrants, refugees and adoptees, and each one has a good story:

Lopez Lomong (Men’s 5000M) was born in southern Sudan and kidnapped by rebels when he was six years old. He managed to escape and spent 10 years in a refugee camp in Kenya before moving to New York and realizing he was the fastest runner at his school.

Meb Keflezighi (Marathon) fled his home country of Eritrea after a civil war broke out and was eventually granted refugee status in the U.S. He holds the record for being the oldest man to win the U.S. trials for the marathon.

Nick Delpopolo (Judo) spent the first years of his life in an orphanage in Montenegro, where he was eventually adopted by an American couple. When he was five, his father signed him up for Judo classes. He was a natural. He is now ranked number one in the U.S. in Judo and 16th in the world.


Should athlete's anti-immigrant comment get her banned from Olympics?

Photo by dr_relling/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A segment today on KPCC's AirTalk over an Olympic Twitter flap has drawn a long list of comments online, not surprising given what was tweeted. Last weekend, Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou tweeted this (warning, it's not pretty), apparently in response to news that mosquitoes in Greece were infecting people with West Nile virus:
“With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting homemade food!!!”

On a lesser note, Papachristou also reportedly retweeted several tweets from the controversial spokesman of a far-right political party in Greece that she supports. And to make a long story short, in spite of her apologies since, she has now been expelled from the games in London.

The online debate has swirled not only around free speech and whether such anti-immigrant comments should be tolerated, but also around what role political affiliation should play. But it's Papachristou's offending tweet that lies at the heart of the controversy.