How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

On Los Angeles as an 'Arrival City'

Photo by Keith Skelton/Flickr (Creative Commons)

En route to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention from LAX to Orlando yesterday, I had a chance to read part of "Arrival City," a book by British journalist Doug Saunders that tells the story of worldwide migration through an exploration of the cities that have been transformed by it.

Not surprisingly, Los Angeles plays a prominent role. In one chapter, Saunders chronicles the transformation of a part of the West Adams neighborhood by migrants from Central America, many of them former neighbors from the same rural villages in El Salvador.

He tracks a Salvadoran-born small business owner’s rise from newly-arrived day laborer in the early 1990s to the founding and growth of his successful sign-making shop, while telling the greater story of the demographic and economic shifts in South Los Angeles since the 1992 riots.