How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

In immigration news: House border bill moves forward, Calderón on immigration, Cuba talks, more

Agents Patrol Texas Border To Stop Illegal Immigrants From Entering U.S.

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A GOP-backed bill calling for more border security passed the House Homeland Security committee late Wednesday on a party-line vote; a floor vote could take place next week.

House heads to vote on border security bill - Associated Press A GOP-backed bill that calls for additional border security passed the House Homeland Security committee Wednesday on an 18-12 party line vote; a floor vote is expected next week. From the story: "The bill would require operational control of high-traffic areas of the border within two years, and operational control of the full border within five years. The bill defines operational control as stopping or turning back all attempted border crossers, which Democrats said was unrealistic."

Calderón: Congress can find common ground on immigration - USA Today Speaking Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, former Mexican president  Felipe Calderón "praised President Obama's executive order allowing Mexican migrants who have U.S.-born children and have lived and worked trouble-free in the U.S. for at least five years to stay in the country without fear of deportation." But he expressed concern that it would be short-lived, and urged the U.S. to find permanent solutions for reforming its immigration system.


In immigration news: State of the Union, Garcetti on immigration, scam artists, more



President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2015. Obama gave relatively little mention to immigration during this year's address, despite the political battle now surrounding his recent executive order.

Obama largely avoids immigration in State of the Union - Arizona Republic President Obama didn't mention immigration much during his State of the Union speech, save for an expected threat to veto legislation that would undo his recent executive order, and a broader reference to how "passions still fly" on the subject and what's at stake. He's said much more in previous years, such as in 2013, when he urged Congress to send him a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

GOP talks immigration reform in Spanish, but not English - Politico The English-language Republican rebuttal of President Obama's State of the Union speech made no mention of it, but in the Spanish-language version, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo indicated that Republicans wanted to work with Obama on immigration: “We should also work through the appropriate channels to create permanent solutions for our immigration system, to secure our borders, modernize legal immigration, and strengthen our economy,” said Curbelo in Spanish.


Is MTA having second thoughts on Boyle Heights development?

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Mariachi Plaza's "kiosko," with the historic Boyle Hotel in the background. A proposal to develop retail and medical office space at the plaza has drawn controversy.

On Thursday, county Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials will seek public input on three developments in Boyle Heights. One that’s drawing controversy is at Mariachi Plaza, the iconic gathering place at First and Boyle.
The proposal recommends building roughly 120,000 square feet of retail and medical office space surrounding the plaza, named for the musicians who have gathered there for decades.

MTA officials say their goal is to increase ridership by building amenities like housing and retail near the tracks. But unlike two planned development at nearby stations, this one isn't getting as much community support.

The two other Boyle Heights site plans involve affordable housing. This one doesn't. The proposal also calls for tearing down an existing structure that houses several small merchants.
“If we have to move, what is going to happen to us?," said Minerva Villa, who with her husband owns a snack and ice cream shop on the plaza. "I’m concerned about that.”


In immigration news: Border bill, California health policies, how Alhambra cops reach Chinese immigrants, more



A fence runs along the U.S.-Mexico border between the Otay Mesa and San Ysidro ports of entry in and near San Diego, across from Tijuana. A House committee is set to begin marking up a new border bill this week that, among other things, would authorize 27 new miles of border fence.

House Homeland panel to take up border security bill this week - USA Today The House Homeland Security Committee is set to begin marking up new border security legislation this week. The bill "would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent all unlawful entries into the U.S. along the entire southern border within five years, and high-traffic areas within two years. Such an achievement is known as "operational control.'" It would also authorize 27 miles of new border fence. 

Majority of Americans Back Obama on Cuba, Immigration — Wall Street Journal According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, "President Barack Obama has broad popular support for his plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and grant legal status to four million more undocumented immigrants." Obama’s economic approval rating is 49 percent, better than it has been since January of last year.


Alhambra police use WeChat as bridge to Chinese immigrants

WeChat Alhambra

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Lauren Zhang, who was visiting a friend in Alhambra, scrolls through her WeChat account. "All Chinese use it," Zhang said.

Very few Alhambra police officers know Chinese, but their department is becoming world-renowned for its use of Chinese social media. 

The Alhambra Police Department recently opened an account on WeChat, China's biggest mobile messaging service, with about 500 million users.  The move comes a year after police joined Weibo, the popular microblogging site that is a cross between Facebook and Twitter.

The goal is to improve communication with the estimated 30,000 Chinese immigrants in the city who prefer Chinese social media platforms to American ones.

“A lot of them don’t speak English or don't speak English very well but they still are our constituents," said Sgt. Jerry Johnson.

With WeChat, users can text tips in Chinese to police and ask about everything from identity theft to the city’s upcoming Lunar New Year festival.  They receive texts back in Chinese, crafted by volunteers and the few staffers fluent in the language.