How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Report points out sharp decline in illegal immigration

The Pew Hispanic Center has a new report out today that crystallizes what U.S. Border Patrol arrest statistics have been indicating for the past few years: The number of undocumented immigrants entering the United States has dropped off sharply, reduced by nearly two-thirds over the past decade.

The recession, which began at the roughly the same time as a federal campaign to boost border enforcement, is a factor. From the report:

The annual inflow of unauthorized immigrants to the United States was nearly two-thirds smaller in the March 2007 to March 2009 period than it had been from March 2000 to March 2005, according to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center.

This sharp decline has contributed to an overall reduction of 8% in the number of unauthorized immigrants currently living in the U.S.-to 11.1 million in March 2009 from a peak of 12 million in March 2007, according to the estimates. The decrease represents the first significant reversal in the growth of this population over the past two decades.


Juarez makeup debacle comes to an end, but questions about what inspired it linger

Photo by Steev Hise/Flickr (Creative Commons)

An installation commemorating the Ciudad Juarez murder victims, March 2006

The other night, while I was visiting with a few comadres, the talk turned to Ciudad Juarez. One woman had just seen the film "Backyard," a Mexican feature based on the hundreds of unsolved murders of women, many of them factory workers, in the border city. The film screened at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival last week.

And from there, the Juarez conversation took an inevitable turn: the recent flap in the fashion/cosmetics world over a Ciudad Juarez-inspired line of makeup from M·A·C Cosmetics and Rodarte, the Los Angeles-based fashion house, which so angered consumers after word of it got out earlier this summer via fashion and beauty bloggers that M·A·C recently decided to pull the line.

Here’s how it started: Last year, Rodarte designers and founders Kate and Laura Mulleavy, two sisters of third-generation Mexican descent, took a road trip along the Texas-Mexico border from El Paso to Marfa. In January, they unveiled a line of ready-to-wear fashions with an intentionally thrown-together look, which they said at the time was inspired by that road trip, in particular the female maquiladora workers who dress and make their way to work in the middle of the night – and who also happen to make up the bulk of the victims of the murders that have been occurring since the early 1990s.


Border deaths mark a sobering end to an intense month in the immigration debate

As we close a particularly intense month of public and political debate tied to immigration - the protests in Arizona over SB 1070, the controversy over a planned Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, the talk of "anchor babies" as some GOP leaders push to end birthright citizenship - a couple of stories from the border this week have provided sobering context to the vociferous immigration debate.

On Tuesday in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas, not far from Brownsville, Texas, Mexican marines discovered a mass grave containing the bodies of 72 migrants, men and women from Central and South America. According to the sole survivor, a 18-year-old man from Ecuador who escaped with gunshot woulds and alerted authorities, the 58 men and 14 women hailing from Ecuador, Brazil, Honduras and El Salvador were on their way to the United States after having illegally traversed Mexico.


Suicides among border agents on the rise

The Associated Press has a story and video documenting a disturbing trend: A spike in suicides among U.S. Border Patrol agents. According to the story, at least 15 agents have taken their own lives since February 2008. More from the story:

Federal officials insist the deaths have nothing to do with the agency, which has doubled in size since 2004, or the increasingly volatile U.S.-Mexico border. But administrators have quietly undertaken urgent suicide-prevention initiatives, including special training for supervisors, videos about warning signs and educational programs for 22,000 agents nationwide

Whatever the reason behind the deaths, there is no question that patrolling the border hinterlands is a backbreaking job. It is also one that has become


In the news this morning

Feliz Monday. Here are a few of the top immigration-related stories today and from over the weekend.

  • Politico reported on the results of a poll that has "solid majorities of the public and overwhelming majorities of DC elites" favoring the passage of some kind of comprehensive immigration legislation.

  • The Washington Post reported that Utah lawmakers, until recently leaning toward proposed legislation similar to Arizona's stringent SB 1070, are changing course.