How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Seeking help on White House orders, immigrants come to workshop in L.A.

Executive Action Workshop

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Reynaldo Serrano came to the US more than 20 years ago and is confident he qualifies for deportation relief under President Obama's executive action.

Executive Action Workshop

Josie Huang/KPCC

More than 1,300 turned out for a Sunday workshop on Obama's immigration order. The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles hosted the event at the LA Convention Center.


More than 1,300 immigrants filled a giant hall of the L.A. Convention Center Sunday, seeking advice on how President Obama's executive action on immigration affects them.

Construction contractor Reynaldo Serrano showed up two hours early.  He said he didn't want to miss out on any information that could help him attain legal status.  "I feel like I’m part of this community," Serrano, 44, said. "I love this country. I want to stay here for my family."

Because his two children were born here, Serrano expects to qualify for temporary deportation relief and a work permit. Advocates explained that the president’s order assists parents of U.S. citizens, and legal residents.  It also covers people who’ve been here for at least five years, and many who came as children. In total, an estimated 5 million immigrants are eligible for help.

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In immigration news: Applying for immigration action, ICE lawsuit, diverse books, and more

Immigration Groups Celebrate Obama Executive Action In Front Of White House

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People rally in DC in support of President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration policy.

Applying for Immigration Action Could Begin in Mid-February - NBC News  The head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Leon Rodriguez told Spanish-speaking journalists that eligible immigrants could start applying in a matter of months. Rodriguez said young adults who qualify under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals could seek deportation relief and work permits starting in February. Then in May, parents of U.S. citizens and legal resident children can start their applications.

Lawsuit Against ICE Previews Turmoil That Immigration Overhaul May Cause Its Enforcers - New York Times A federal lawsuit brought by a lawyer against her former employer Immigration and Customs Enforcement is spotlighting "turmoil inside the agency in charge of new deportation policies and previews conflicts with field officers that the enforcement overhaul may provoke."  Patricia M. Vroom, said that she was bullied by top agency officials after "she raised legal concerns about a policy of prosecutorial discretion she was ordered to apply to spare some immigrants from deportation."

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In immigration news: Latinos and executive action, more states join backlash lawsuit, immigrant fraud protection bill, more

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Democratic Party workers hand out campaigns signs for Barack Obama in 2008. A new Gallup poll has 51 percent of U.S.-born Latinos approving of President Obama's recent executive order on immigration, and 42 percent saying they disapprove.

Poll: Slim majority of US-born Hispanics back Obama action - The Hill A new poll from Gallup has 51 percent of U.S.-born Latinos approving of President Obama's recent executive order on immigration, and 42 percent saying they disapprove. From the story: "...the president’s executive orders get the strongest marks from Hispanic immigrants born abroad, with 75 percent backing the president. That trend is similar with all Americans, where there’s a significant difference between those born inside the U.S. and abroad."

Nearly half of states back Abbott lawsuit against Obama - Houston Chronicle More states have joined a legal challenge to President Obama's executive action plan that was initiated by Texas governor-elect Greg Abbott, currently the state's Attorney General. Most of the states in the lawsuit are Republican-led; three have Democratic governors, and four have Democratic attorneys general.

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In immigration news: Obama defends action, DMV prepares for license rush, more

DMV

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People wait in line to get into a California Department of Motor Vehicles office in Los Angeles in February 2009. The DMV is training 900 newly hired employees in anticipation of a crush of applications this January, when immigrants without legal status may begin applying for a special driver's license under a new law.

Obama defends immigration action, challenges Congress -USA Today Speaking in Nashville, Tenn. on Tuesday, President Obama "defended a plan that has provoked outrage among congressional Republicans, who say he lacks the authority to enact such large-scale immigration policy without legislative action." Obama tossed it back to Congress: "When members of Congress question whether I have the authority to do this, I have one answer: yes, and pass a bill."

California DMV trains 900 new hires to handle immigrant licensing surge - Southern California Public Radio The California Department of Motor Vehicles is training 900 new employees in anticipation of a crush of applications in January, when immigrants without legal status may begin applying for a special driver's license. The licenses will be made available as part of AB 60, a new state law that takes effect next month. Nearly 380,000 license appointments have already been scheduled for the first two weeks of the new year.

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California DMV trains 900 new hires to handle immigrant licensing surge

DMV

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A line forms outside an LA office of the California Department of Motor Vehicles in this file photo.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is training 900 freshly-hired employees to help deal with a surge in driver's licensing applications from immigrants without legal status. They're eligible to apply as part of AB 60 - a new law taking effect next month that makes driver's licenses available for California residents, regardless of their immigration status.

"We’ve never hired this many employees at one time, so this is definitely unprecedented," said DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez. "We need all hands on deck all across the state."

Gonzalez said there is huge interest in AB 60, as signaled by the nearly 380,000 appointments already scheduled for the first two weeks of 2015. That's more than double the roughly 176,000 appointments made for that same period in 2014. 

"We see everyday at our field offices and driver license processing centers (AB 60 applicants) lining up that want to come and make appointments," Gonzalez said. "They want information on how to study for the tests, so we’re handing them some handbooks, study guides."

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