How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Not just for adults: 80 kids take citizenship oath

Kids naturalization

Josie Huang/KPCC

Luis Litez, a 10-year-old originally from Mexico, takes the oath of citizenship at a special kids' naturalization ceremony in downtown Los Angeles.

Kids Naturalization

Josie Huang/KPCC

Brothers Tim and PJ Parawan pose with their parents and their new citizenship certificates.

Kids naturalization

Josie Huang/KPCC

Eighty children from countries ranging from Iran to El Salvador took citizenship oaths at LA's Central Library.

Kids naturalization

Josie Huang/KPCC

Families could forego a group ceremony, but those attending the event at the Mark Taper Forum at the library wanted a communal experience.


Luis Litez, a 10-year-old from Mexico, lifted his right hand, as he murmured the oath of allegiance to the United States:

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty...."

The oath may have felt like a string of big words, but Litez said afterward it changed him.

"I was not American but I am now," said Litez, who lives in LA. "I'm part of California now."

Eighty children from greater Los Angeles took part in a special "Constitution Week" ceremony at Central Library downtown. They ranged in age from 6 to 17, and come from countries such as Iran, Cambodia, China, Armenia and El Salvador.

Children are eligible for naturalization if their foreign-born parents become citizens, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Orphans can also attain citizenship if they're adopted by Americans.

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Naturalization Ceremony Held At Chicago Cultural Center

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Vishaun Lawrence of Jamaica, a new U.S. citizen, holds an American flag along with her citizenship papers as she participates in a naturalization ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center on July 3, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Los Angeles has joined Chicago and New York in a new “Cities for Citizenship" project, funded by $1.1 billion from corporate partner Citigroup. Funds will go toward support services for legal residents who hope to become naturalized citizens.

LA joins NYC, Chicago in push to naturalize permanent residents - Southern California Public Radio The “Cities for Citizenship" project is funded by $1.1 billion from corporate partner Citigroup. In Los Angeles, a quarter-million dollars is to go toward introducing financial literacy in citizenship classes at city libraries; the money will also help fund community citizenship drives, and outreach to employers in sectors that employ large numbers of legal-resident workers.

Border Patrol to test body cameras - USA Today The agency reportedly plans to begin testing body cameras for agents next month "as part of the agency's continuing response to criticism about use of force incidents." A federal official said the technology will be tested at an agency training center in New Mexico, and that it's a "first step" toward broader deployment.

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LA joins NYC, Chicago in push to naturalize permanent residents

Mayors Forum

PAUL BEATY/AP

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is joining his counterparts in Chicago and New York in encouraging permanent residents to become citizens. Pictured at a mayor's forum from right to left are Garcetti, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has joined a new campaign that encourages the estimated 390,000 legal permanent residents in Los Angeles to become citizens for their own benefit — and the city's.

The “Cities for Citizenship" project, funded by $1.1 million from corporate partner Citigroup, is also kicking off in New York and Chicago.

In Los Angeles, a quarter-million dollar allocation will go toward introducing financial literacy to citizenship classes at city libraries, said Linda Lopez, chief of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. The cost of applying for citizenship — $680 — is prohibitive for many, and Lopez said new curriculum will teach students about saving for the naturalization process, as well as other aspects of their lives.

The new initiative will also help fund citizenship drives at community centers and outreach to employers in sectors with high concentrations of permanent residents, such as hospitality, health care and technology, Lopez said.  

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Immigration Ceremony

Grant Slater/KPCC

New U.S. citizens take their oath at a naturalization ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The mayors of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are kicking off an initiative to encourage more legal permanent residents to become citizens.

Saldaña confirmation hearing opens on friendly note, despite rancor on immigration - Dallas Morning News President Obama has nominated Sarah Saldaña, a U.S. Attorney based in Dallas, to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Saldaña would be the first Latina to run the agency, which is responsible for carrying out deportations and other immigration enforcement. Her confirmation hearing before a Senate committee opened Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Push for Immigrants to Become Citizens - Wall Street Journal The mayors of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago plan to kick off an initiative Wednesday that aims to to encourage more legal residents to naturalize. From the story: "The initiative, titled 'Cities for Citizenship,' will help the three cities expand naturalization programs and other ventures dedicated to helping immigrants secure their financial footing through counseling, legal assistance and microloans."

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Immigrants Processed At The McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas

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Immigrants caught crossing the Texas border illegally are detained at the McAllen Border Patrol Station this summer.

For migrant kids, past traumas are hard to escape - and early intervention is key - Southern California Public Radio  It's been years since they came as child migrants, but for some young people they are still struggling with the trauma of their pasts and the often-tumultuous journey to the US. Their stories open a window into the future faced by the some 2,000 child migrants who've come to the US in the last year and settled with family in Los Angeles County, pending their court cases in immigration court.

Border agency reports fewer immigrant deaths - Los Angeles Times U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that are migrant deaths have dropped along the Southwest border, despite the fact that the number of people crossing Texas and Arizona went up this summer. But immigrant rights advocates counter that the death toll numbers are down because officials aren't searching for remains. Eddie Canales of the South Texas Human Rights Center said he knew of at least eight men who were missing, left behind a group traveling through in June.

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