How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

California Dream Act passes its first Senate test

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Financial aid for undocumented college students paying tuition has inched a bit closer to becoming law in California, with part of the legislation dubbed the "California Dream Act" passing its first Senate test.

The bill, approved 7-3 today in the Senate Education Committee, would allow for undocumented students who meet the residency criteria for California in-state tuition to obtain scholarships that are not derived from state funds. Similar legislation was recently approved in Illinois.

Today's hearing follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday that upheld an existing California law allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, rather than the costlier out-of-state fees they must pay in some other states.

The California Dream Act is comprised of two related bills, both sponsored by Democratic Assembly member Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles. Both recently cleared the Assembly and are moving through the Senate approval process. The one approved today, still referred to as AB 130, is the less contested of the two; the second bill, known as AB 131, would amend state law to allow undocumented students access to publicly-funded financial aid, including Cal Grants state grants and other financial assistance.


Two sheriffs, two takes on Secure Communities

Photo by Pyrat Wesly/Flickr (Creative Commons)

In a three-part series this week, KPCC's Washington, D.C. correspondent Kitty Felde has been exploring the controversy over Secure Communities, a federal immigration enforcement program that also draws in local authorities. Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution backing proposed California legislation that would allow individual cities and counties to opt out of the program, which they presently can't do.

Some law enforcement officials have complained that the program, which allows for the fingerprints of people booked into local jails to be shared with immigration authorities, undermines the trust of immigrant communities and potentially impedes policing. At the same time, others have praised it.

There is a stark divide, for example, between how the program is perceived by the sheriffs in Los Angeles and San Francisco. From today's piece:


In the news this morning: Secure Communities news, Section 8 lawsuit, Azusa gang indictment, some immigrants leaving Georgia, more

Texas Moves Ahead With Secure Communities Program — The Texas Tribune While some states have been moving away from the federal Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, Republican lawmakers in Texas are seeking to expand it.

Secure Communities: California sheriffs split over illegal immigration deportation program - 89.3 KPCC Sheriffs in Southern California support the federal fingerprint-sharing program, but not the sheriff in San Francisco. The second report in a two-part series.

Suit says cities try to oust minorities - LA Daily News A new lawsuit alleges that the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale are waging a discriminatory war against black and Latino residents on Section 8 public housing assistance, using police intimidation and other tactics to force them out.

Azusa hopes indictments close books on era of racial hatred, violence against blacks - Los Angeles Times Residents and community leaders hope that a sweeping indictment that accused a Latino gang of targeting black residents of Azusa will once and for all end the racial violence in the city.


L.A. votes to support a Secure Communities opt-out

Photo by Chad Miller/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Los Angeles city leaders have become the latest elected officials to shun the federal Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, which allows for the fingerprints of people booked into local jails to be shared with immigration authorities.

The City Council voted 11-1 today to support a California bill that would allow the state to renegotiate its contract with the Homeland Security department, letting cities and counties opt out of the program. The bill recently cleared the state Assembly and goes to the Senate next.

The vote on the Los Angeles resolution is more symbolic than anything, as at present, individual jurisdictions can't choose not to participate, with the agreements between the federal government and the states. In recent weeks and days, the governors of Illinois, New York and most recently Massachusetts have announced plans to withdraw their states from Secure Communities, although federal officials have said it's not so easily done.


From readers, more 'tears' over scrapped visa lottery results

A post yesterday told the story of "22,000 Tears," a Facebook page set up by disappointed would-be immigrants to the United States who learned in early May that they had won immigrant visas in an annual federal lottery, then were soon informed there had been a computer error and that the lottery results would be voided.

Some 22,000 people were left in the lurch, hence the name of the Facebook group, through which some have been circulating a petition, posting protest videos and connecting from the countries they call home. Not surprisingly, the visa lottery story has made the global rounds. (I discussed it yesterday in an interview with the BBC.) And now, some readers who identify themselves as being among those whose hopes were crushed have been posting messages on this site.

Nadooor82 wrote: