How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

2 years after the start of DACA, haves and have-nots

DACA Ivan Ceja - 1

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Ivan Ceja, 22, first received approval for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in October 2012. Now, Ceja has a job working for George McKenna's campaign for school board.

DACA Ivan Ceja - 2

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ivan Ceja irons a dress shirt before work on Thursday, Aug. 7. Now that he has a social security number, Ceja was able to get a driver's license and credit card. "It's something concrete that's always going to be there for me," Ceja said of his social security number.

DACA Ivan Ceja - 3

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ceja prepares to apply to jobs on Thursday, Aug. 7 in his family's home in Compton. In addition to working on campaigns, Ivan Ceja is studying electrical engineering at Long Beach City College.

DACA Ivan Ceja - 4

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ivan Ceja is engaged and they hope to get married next year. If DACA is renewed, Ceja hopes to continue working for campaigns and would eventually like to start his own small business.

DACA Ivan Ceja - 5

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ivan Ceja, 22, watches an episode of "House of Cards" before going to work as an office manager, field coordinator and data manager for George McKenna's campaign for school board.

DACA Ivan Ceja - 6

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ceja finishes a bowl of cereal before work on Thursday, Aug. 7. Ivan Ceja lives at home with his parents. With his new campaigning job, he is able to help with bills and rent.

DACA Ivan Ceja - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ceja has two brothers. This fall, he plans to help pay for his little brother's tuition at Long Beach City College.

DACA Ivan Ceja - 8

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

If Ivan Ceja hadn't been approved for DACA, "I'd probably still be protesting out in the streets with friends and other organizers I met," he said. "I've realized my role in this moving forward, I want to be a resource."

DACA Ivan Ceja - 9

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ivan Ceja no longer has to take the bus to get to work and school. If he continues to have a stable income, he hopes to buy a new car soon.

DACA Ivan Ceja - 10

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ceja prepares cell phones for volunteer callers on Friday, Aug. 1 at George McKenna's campaign headquarters. Ivan Ceja previously worked at Subway, but it didn't provide the work experience he wanted.

DACA Ivan Ceja - 11

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ceja says that if he didn't receive approval for DACA, he imagines he would probably be doing construction with his dad. "It's really hard for me to say because there weren't any opportunities prior," he said.

DACA Josue Ruiz - 6

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Josue Ruiz hopes to study engineering in college, or anything that has to do with math and science.

DACA Josue Ruiz - 2

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With the help of the Central American Resource Center, Ruiz plans to re-apply for DACA with the necessary paperwork.

DACA Josue Ruiz - 3

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A childhood photo of Josue Ruiz sits in the Ruiz family home. The sixteen-year-old will start his junior year this August at Torres High School in Boyle Heights.

DACA Josue Ruiz - 4

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Brother Jaime, 12, left, father Alejandro and mother Flor Ruiz spend time together in their Boyle Heights home. August 15 marks the two-year anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

DACA Josue Ruiz - 5

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Josue studies for his upcoming advanced placement world history class. His favorite subject is math.

DACA Josue Ruiz - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The Ruiz family home in Boyle Heights.


In a crisp white shirt and tie, Ivan Ceja looks every bit the political operative. One afternoon in early August, he fielded calls at the campaign office of George McKenna, who won a seat this week on the L.A. School Board.

Ivan worked as an office manager and field coordinator for the campaign. It's the second political job he's held so far since he obtained temporary legal status and a work permit almost two years ago, through a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

“If I hadn’t had DACA, I’d probably still be protesting in the streets, with a lot of my friends and organizers that I met," said Ceja, 22. "I wouldn’t be working here, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t have my license, so I would probably still be taking the bus. I’d probably still be working construction and, uh, being creative. I don’t know, it’s really hard for me to say.”

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In immigration news: Latinos and immigration fears, migrant kids starting school in US, executive action worries, more

Central Americans Undertake Grueling Journey Through Mexico To U.S.

John Moore/Getty Images

U.S.-bound Central American immigrants ride north on top of a freight train on August 6, 2013 near Juchitan, Mexico. A new academic study suggests that where immigrants come from plays a role in public anxiety over immigration.

The data on white anxiety over Hispanic immigration - Washington Post An academic study suggests that public anxiety driven by immigration news doesn't just concern the rule of law. From the story: "When immigrants are Hispanic, white Americans worry a lot more...Unsurprisingly, those who read a negatively-toned immigration story expressed less support for immigration. But the impact of seeing a negative story featuring a Mexican immigrant was double the size of a negative story about the Russian Immigrant."

Democrats to White House: Immigration's your call - Politico As President Obama weighs taking executive action on immigration, some Senate Democrats have concerns about the political fallout. From the story: "...there’s palpable fear that Obama could cause trouble for the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats if he decides to circumvent Congress before the elections to make immigration changes through executive action. Such a move could complicate the reelection bids of Democrats in red states like Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana and Alaska."

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In immigration news: A fatal smuggling attempt, GOP moves right on immigration, National Guard heads to border in TX, more

American Fuel Up On Cheaper Gas Over The Border Of Mexico

David McNew/Getty Images

Two men discovered Tuesday in the trunk of a car at the San Ysidro border crossing near San Diego have died. Both men were Mexican citizens.

2 Men Dead After Attempting To Cross San Ysidro Border In Car Trunk - KPBS Two men who were discovered in the trunk of an orange 2012 Dodge Challenger around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday were found not breathing when officials came across them. One man died at the scene, and the other at a hospital near the San Diego-area border crossing. Both men were Mexican citizens.

5 Things to Know About Immigration and the U.S. Economy - NBC News A few immigration facts as Congress takes its August break while President Obama weighs executive action on immigration reform. Among them: "Less than half of all immigrants are Hispanic or Latino. As of 2012, more than 40 million immigrants lived in the United States – but just 46 percent, or roughly 18 million, of these immigrants were Hispanic."

On Immigration, G.O.P. Starts to Embrace Tea Party - New York Times From the story: "A legislative year in which Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio set out to publicly marginalize the more vocal right-wing members of his conference ended with them emboldened, and with new leaders ready to bring the right back into the fold."

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In immigration news: What executive action may look like, immigration court problems, Latinos and race, more

US-POLITICS-IMMIGRATION-OBAMA

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama speaks on immigration reform beside Vice President Joe Biden, right, in the Rose Garden of the White House on June 30, 2014. Obama has said he plans to take some kind of executive action on immigration in the near future.

Two Ways President Obama Could Act On Immigration - NPR President Obama is expected to take some kind of executive action on immigration by the end of the summer. Legal experts and advocates say this could include changes such as expanding temporary legal status under the deferred action program to a larger group of people, or allowing people who are in the U.S. illegally to apply to adjust their status without having to leave the country.

GOP Ads Go On Attack Over Border - Wall Street Journal From the story: "New television ads by Republican Senate candidates in Arkansas and New Hampshire blame the recent surge of illegal immigration on Democratic support for 'amnesty.' And in Maine, Republican Gov. Paul LePage is bashing his Democratic challenger for supporting government welfare for illegal immigrants."

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Glendale wins legal battle over monument to WW II 'comfort women'

Korean Comfort Women Memorial Glendale

Melissa Wall via Flickr Creative Commons

A judge said Glendale is within its rights to have a statue recognizing the 'comfort women' forced to serve the Japanese army in World War II.

Glendale's bronze monument to wartime sex slaves won't be moving from its perch in the city's Central Park anytime soon.

A federal judge last week dismissed a lawsuit suing the city to remove the monument honoring 'comfort women' used by Japan's military during World War II.

The statue — of a Korean girl seated next to an empty chair — is touted as the first memorial to comfort women on the West Coast. There are also monuments in New Jersey and Virginia — all built to raise awareness about the women's plight and to pressure current Japanese leadership to apologize for its military's role.

The plaintiffs in the Glendale suit –  resident Michiko Shiota Gingery and the conservative, pro-Japan group Global Alliance for Historical Truth — had argued that the city had overstepped its bounds by engaging in an international debate over the treatment of comfort women. More specifically, according to the complaint, "Glendale has taken a position at odds with the expressed position of the Japanese Government.”

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