How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Four things to know about immigrants in the military

Photo by US Army Korea - IMCOM/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A post yesterday told the story of the late Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta, whose name has come up in recent weeks after one Southern California legislator suggested a U.S. Navy ship be named for him.

Peralta, a Marine who died in Fallujah, Iraq in November 2004, was a Mexican-born immigrant who enlisted upon receiving his green card. And there are many others like him serving today. As a follow-up to yesterday's post, here are a few things to know about the immigrants who serve in the U.S. military, who might serve in the future, and military service members of color in general.

1) Non-citizens in the military: Often referred to as “green card soldiers,” non-citizens join the military at a rate of about 8,000 per year, according to a recent Department of Defense video. Last year, the Associated Press reported there were close to 17,000 non-citizens on active duty.

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In the news this morning: Calif. Secure Communities bill advances, Latinos and gay marriage, refugees continue to flee Libya, more

Immigration legislation: California lawmakers weigh opting out of federal immigration enforcement program - Los Angeles Times A bill that would allow California and local jurisdictions to opt out of the controversial Secure Communities immigration enforcement program passed the Assembly late last week, and moves forward to the Senate.

First Read - High court voids civil rights suit against Ashcroft - MSNBC.com The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that former attorney general John Ashcroft cannot be sued by a American-born Muslim man who claimed that he was improperly detained in the early days of the war on terror.

The Gay Marriage Latino Divide; Told Through the Family of a NY Politician - Fox News Latino The divide as told through the family story of New York state senator Rev. Rubén Díaz, whose granddaughter was discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2008 because of her sexual orientation.

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Marine, hero, immigrant: Remembering Sgt. Rafael Peralta

Photo by TK/Flickr (Creative Commons)


During a recent controversy over the naming of a U.S. Navy ship for labor leader and civil rights hero Cesar Chavez, the name of a lesser-known hero was brought up, that of Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta.

Peralta's story, better known in military circles, came up earlier this month when Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, a Republican from East San Diego County and a former Marine, objected to the Navy's decision to name a new cargo ship for Chavez, who served in the Navy between 1944 and 1946. Hunter suggested naming the ship after Peralta instead; after the Navy moved forward with its original decision, Hunter responded by introducing legislation last week seeking to name the next Navy vessel after the late Marine.

Who was Rafael Peralta? His story is as inspiring as it is tragic. Peralta was a Mexican-born Marine whose family moved from Mexico City to Tijuana. Like many kids growing up on the border, he attended school in San Diego. He eventually received permanent legal resident status in the United States and, upon receiving his green card, according to news reports, he joined the Marines. A piece on the Military.com site described his early ambitions:

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Five ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: The meat edition

Photo by Manogamo/Flickr (Creative Commons)


Last week, Multi-American delved once more into that culinary landscape where some diners fear to tread, the territory of the unsung ethnic delicacy.

These are the dishes that don't necessarily sound good, look good or or even smell good, but are worth trying because they are unexpectedly delicious.

Our first series in March covered a range of foods, from drinks like the Vietnamese avocado milkshake to main dishes like arroz con calamares en su tinta, a particularly unattractive squid dish served in several Latin American countries.

The series last week focused on meat dishes, cooked, raw and canned. True to form, none sound like anything one would rush out to try, but don't be put off. For any carnivores who might have missed these treats, here they are in a convenient list. Dig in.

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The California Dream Act, part two: What it entails

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Earlier this month, the California state Assembly approved one of two bills referred to as the California Dream Act. While neither proposes legal status for undocumented students, as does the similarly named federal proposal, both aim to make it easier for them to pay for college.

The bill that recently cleared the Assembly was AB 130, which would allow for undocumented students who already meet the residency criteria for California in-state tuition to obtain scholarships that are not derived from state funds.

Today, the more contentious of the two bills, known as AB 131, passed 12 to 5 through the Assembly Appropriations Committee. A full Assembly vote is expected next week.

AB 131 faces slimmer odds of passage than its companion bill, which like this one is sponsored by Gil Cedillo, a Democratic Assembly member from Los Angeles. The reason: Unlike AB 130, it would allow undocumented students access to publicly-funded financial aid, including Cal Grants state grants and other financial assistance.

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