How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Arizona-bound buses to leave from Dodger Stadium


Photo by xomiele/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Protesters demonstrate against Arizona's SB 1070 at a rally in Phoenix in May.

A caravan of 11 buses will leave Dodger Stadium bound for Phoenix at dawn on Thursday, when Arizona’s SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law is scheduled to take effect. On board will be about 550 union members, church and community groups, according to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, which is sponsoring the trip. Plans are for participants to attend a community forum with Phoenix civic and police leaders and join a march to the capital.

It will be a quick trip: Many opponents to SB 1070 support an economic boycott of Arizona, so the group will eat breakfast before crossing the state line and, rather than stay overnight, plan to return to Dodger Stadium by midnight. (Supporters of the Arizona measure, who are planning their own events in Phoenix over the weekend, have taken the opposite tack when traveling there to demonstrate, encouraging participants to shop to their hearts’ content.)


In the news this morning

WIth Arizona's SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law set to take effect Thursday and a court decision on its fate expected at any time, most of the top immigration stories continue to come out of Arizona, where 89.3 KPCC will be headed later this week. Here are a few:

  • A decision that could suspend the implementation of SB 1070 is expected soon from U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, according to KTAR in Phoenix. Bolton heard arguments last week in two of several legal challenges to the measure, including a federal government lawsuit.

  • The Los Angeles Times reports on a Phoenix hate-crime case, the fatal May shooting of a Latino U.S. citizen, in which the shooter is thought to have been motivated by the climate of racial tension surrounding SB 1070; in an opinion piece, Gregory Rodriguez points out how the numbers - i.e. dropping illegal border-crossing arrests - conflict with the angry rhetoric. He also takes mainstream media, including his employer, to task for opening the online comments section to "racist rants."

  • According to a USA Today story out of Mexico City, Mexican officials are preparing for an increase in deportees if SB 1070 is implemented, with additional consulate workers in Arizona and border migrant shelters bracing for new arrivals.

  • Taking an agricultural perspective, CattleNetwork asks interesting questions in this short piece, such as: "Should growers, dairy operators and livestock producers simply be compensated better for their production in order to pay higher wages to legal workers? This would likely raise some food prices."

  • Politico observes how the ongoing immigration debate - and the ongoing impasse on immigration reform - benefits politicians and special-interest groups.

  • Finally, on an unrelated note, the Daily Breeze highlights a report that calls on lawmakers to draw more grocery stores to low-income neighborhoods.


Anti-SB 1070 banners hang from Hollywood Freeway this morning


Photo by Paulina Gonzalez

Activists hold an anti-SB 1070 banner over the 101 downtown this morning.

Drive-time commuters snaking their way through downtown Los Angeles on the Hollywood Freeway this morning likely saw banners like this one dangling from an overpass. Several activists hung the banners to protest SB 1070, a controversial Arizona anti-illegal immigration law set to go into effect this Thursday, unless it is held up by court challenges. A decision from a federal judge in Phoenix is expected soon.

The banners were hung downtown between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. from the Broadway Avenue, Spring Street and Grand Avenue overpasses. Banner-drop organizers said commuters will see them again between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. tonight and will return daily through Wednesday, with a "major action" is planned for Thursday.


Border series explores economic and other facets of illegal immigration


Photo by Andrew Hecht/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Farm workers near the Central California coast.

In light of the revitalized debate over illegal immigration in recent months, colleagues at San Diego's public radio and television outlet KPBS have put together a terrific series tackling various components of the illegal immigration story.

This past week, Crossing the Line: Border Stories featured radio and television reports examining the economic costs vs. benefits of illegal immigration, one of the most hotly debated issues surrounding the topic; a radio interview with a one-time undocumented immigrant from Oaxaca, now working on an irrigation project for his hometown in the hope that it will create jobs and entice people to stay put; another radio report on how some kids' lives have unraveled after their parents were deported. Earlier this month, there was a report on demographic shifts that stand to affect immigration from Mexico. Transcripts and clips are online.


While eyes are on Phoenix, a grim story unfolds to the south

Border fence at Imperial Sand Dunes, California

Photo by Eric White/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A stretch of border fence through the desert, Imperial Sand Dunes, California.

As the news media prepares to focus on Phoenix next week, when the state's controversial SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law is set to take effect, a grim aspect of the illegal immigration story is unfolding to the south.

Several Arizona media outlets reported last week that by mid-July, the bodies of 40 illegal border crossers had been brought to the office of the Pima County Medical Examiner in Tucson, so many that some of the bodies had to be stored in a refrigerated truck for lack of space. Officials there said that if the trend continues, the deaths could top the single-month record of 68 in July 2005, the highest number since the medical examiner's office began tracking them in 2000.