How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Local Cuba travel agents expect a boost in business

Santiago De Cuba Prepares For Visit Of Pope Benedict XVI

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A woman walks under a Cuban flag in Santiago de Cuba. The Obama administration has relaxed rules for travel to Cuba. But U.S. travelers must still go for a specific purpose.

Within a day of President Barack Obama's announcement that he'd loosened travel to Cuba, local travel agents who book trips to the island were planning to expand their business.

The biggest changes won't affect Cuban Americans as much as other U.S. citizens, who until now have had to obtain special permission from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to visit legally. They're still limited on reasons to go - but now they can get a visa through a travel agent.

Agents warn that it's still not like, say, booking a vacation to Cancun.

"One thing that has not changed is that tourism is absolutely forbidden," said Patrick Ela of Crown International Travel, a longtime Cuba travel agency in West Los Angeles.  “You cannot go as a tourist – you have to go with a purpose.” 

A newly expanded list of purposes is outlined on the Treasury Department website:

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In immigration news: Mexican birth certificates available in US, states' anti-executive action lawsuit gets hearing, more

California Report

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People study the California Driver Handbook at the Mexican consulate in Orange County, Calif. Mexican consulates in California have seen demand for services increase as immigrants apply for special state driver's licenses, and also prepare to apply for immigration relief under executive action. Consulates in the U.S. are accommodating Mexican nationals seeking documents by now providing them with copies of their birth certificates, without their having to leave the country.

Mexican consulates now providing birth certificates to immigrants - Southern California Public Radio Mexican nationals in the United States will now be able to obtain copies of their birth certificates at consulates in the U.S., without having to leave the country. The new service comes as California's Mexican consulates are swamped with immigrants seeking personal documents. Many are applying for new driver's licenses under AB 60, and also preparing documents in anticipation of applying for immigration relief under the new White House immigration plan. Some consulates will soon extend their hours as well.

Seeking Legal Immigration Status, Longtime New Yorker Can’t Return to U.S. - New York Times The story of Angelo Cabrera, 40, who in New York "survived for 24 years as an undocumented immigrant by working menial jobs while also earning two university degrees and running a volunteer social services group, an effort that earned him a wall of commendations and a profile in People magazine." He returned to Mexico last year in hopes of legalizing his status here, but was barred from returning; he's now living with his parents in a rural village.

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In immigration news: White House criticizes House vote, LA-area immigrants eligible for relief, Mexican consulates to issue birth certificates, more

Immigration Groups Celebrate Obama Executive Action In Front Of White House

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According to a new estimate, roughly 466,000 Los Angeles County residents could be eligible for immigration relief under President Barack Obama's executive order, the majority of them as the parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents.

White House blasts House on immigration - The Hill In response to the House passing a Republican-backed bill that would do away with President Obama's executive immigration order, White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Muñoz said the proposed amendments "were 'not relevant' to funding for the (Homeland Security) department, and argued 'nothing' that had been proposed by House Republicans 'makes any sense from a policy perspective.'"

Executive action: Of 466,000 LA County immigrants who could qualify, most are parents - Southern California Public Radio An estimated 466,000 Los Angeles County residents could be eligible for immigration relief under President Barack Obama's executive order, according to a new tally released Thursday. The vast majority - roughly 331,000 people - are believed to be eligible for relief as the parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents. About 30,000 are people who would qualify for an extended version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

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Executive action: Of 466,000 LA County immigrants who could qualify, most are parents

US-POLITICS-ELECTIONS-IMMIGRATION-FILES

Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

This Aug. 15, 2012 file photo shows a huge crowd forming a line around the block from the office of The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) in California, on the first day of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. More than 460,000 immigrants in Los Angeles County could be eligible for temporary immigration relief under President Obama's executive order, according to a new estimate. But relatively few will be people eligible for an extended version of DACA; the bulk will be parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who have lived in the country five years or more.

An estimated 466,000 Los Angeles County residents could be eligible for immigration relief under President Barack Obama's executive order, according to a new tally released Thursday. But relatively few will be immigrants who arrived as minors.

The vast majority of local immigrants seeking temporary relief from deportation will be the parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents.

The Washington, D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute estimates there are roughly 331,000 immigrants in L.A. County who fit the eligibility profile for what's become known as DAPA, for "Deferred Action for Parental Accountability.”

This type of relief applies to immigrants who are parents of citizens and legal residents, and who have lived in the United States five years or more.

But only an estimated 30,000 newly-eligible immigrants are expected to qualify locally for an extended version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. That program now grants temporary protection to immigrants 30 and under who came to the U.S. before age 16; it's being expanded to include immigrants who arrived before age 16 regardless of how old they are now.

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In immigration news: House votes to scuttle executive action, legal service providers prepare, more

Budget Battle Boehner

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has defended a House GOP measure to do away with President Obama's executive immigration order as being not about immigration, but about executive overreach. The House measure passed Wednesday; it would do away with executive action, along with the existing 2012 deferred action program. But it's unlikely to go far, with less support in the Senate and a veto threat from the White House.

House Votes to Undo Obama Immigration Policies - Associated Press The House has approved Republican-backed legislation that would do away with President Obama's executive order on immigration from November, and also do away with the protection given to young immigrants who arrived as minors under deferred action. From the story: "The measures were part of a $39.7 billion spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security. The vote was 236-191. The legislation faces tough prospects in the Senate and a veto threat from the president."

GOP moderates rebel against House immigration measure - Politico Not all House GOP lawmakers are behind the measure passed Wednesday that would roll back executive action and also get rid of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. From the story: "Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that he opposes the Blackburn legislation, as well as a separate measure that, in part, rolls back immigration enforcement directives dating as far back as 2011. If those amendments are ultimately approved, Denham said he would oppose the underlying DHS funding bill. 'It’s disappointing to see an overreach,' Denham said of his own party."

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