How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

In the news this morning: More on Arizona immigration crackdown bills, death penalty for the Brisenia Flores murder, Ruben Salazar report re

Arizona immigration bills aim for bigger crackdown - Arizona Republic A state senate committee gives the go-ahead to the most stringent immigration enforcement measures in the state since SB 1070.

Death Sentence for Arizona Minuteman Who Killed Girl and Dad - New America Media Shawna Forde was convicted last week for the 2009 home invasion murder of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father in Arivaca, Arizona, a rural border town. She was the leader of an anti-illegal immigration activist group, Minuteman American Defense.

Harvard Names Shakira Artist of the Year - Latina Yes, the words Harvard and Shakira in one sentence. The singer, songwriter and philanthropist was named 2011 Artist of the Year by the Harvard Foundation.

Groups sue FBI over Muslim surveillance - The Orange County Register According to a lawsuit filed yesterday, the First Amendment rights of hundreds of Muslims were violated when an FBI-directed informant was asked to infiltrate local mosques.

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Arizona back in spotlight after senate committee OKs stringent immigration bills

Photo by Patrick Dockens/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Just like that, Arizona finds itself back at the epicenter of the debate over how far a state can go with immigration enforcement, with perhaps more anti-illegal immigration legislation pending than ever before. Yesterday, the state Senate Appropriations Committee approved bills proposing stringent immigration enforcement measures, including:

- Two companion bills, SB 1308 and 1309, which seek to deny U.S. citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants

- A  newly introduced "omnibus" bill, SB 1611, that among other things would bar undocumented immigrants from public housing, demand documentation for children to attend public schools, prohibit undocumented immigrants from driving or buying a car, bar them from obtaining a state marriage license, and make it more difficult for employers to hire them

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Adopted parents, adopted children: How two mothers reconnected with their Korean roots

Photo by Chiceaux Lynch/Flickr (Creative Commons)

New American Media featured a moving story this weekend from Hyphen magazine, which covers the Asian American diaspora. It told the stories of two Korean adoptees who, when deciding to adopt children themselves, turned to the country of their birth.

One woman, Rebecca Eun Hee Viot, and her biological brother grew up in Minnesota with their adoptive white family, disconnected from their ethnic roots. When circumstances prompted Viot and her husband to adopt, they chose Ruby, a 9-month-old from South Korea. From the piece:

Since then, Ruby has brought peace to Viot's life and tightened Viot's bonds to her birth country. “I never took a pride in being Korean," Viot said, though she wasn't necessarily ashamed. “I was often confused and sad because I knew I didn't fit in. I just didn't know who I was.”

Motivated by her daughter, Viot has begun to explore Korean food (she can now cook kaktugi, bulgogi, japchae and kimchi jigae) and the Korean language (she has learned to read Hangul and aspires to speak it with her biological family). She is also interested in learning Korean drumming and dance through the Korean Heritage House, which recently opened in the Twin Cities; Ruby will be enrolled when she turns 4.

“We're learning together,” said Viot, who has founded an Internet forum for parents undergoing the adoption process. I have to stop myself from thinking that just because [Ruby and I] look alike that is enough. I'm still learning about the traditions. I have to do my homework, just like my [friends who are] Caucasian adoptive parents.

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What really led to Brisenia Flores' murder?

Since the conviction last week of Shawna Forde for murder in the 2009 home invasion slaying of a Latino father and his 9-year-old daughter in rural Arivaca, Arizona, there have been sighs of relief among those who had called for justice, but also bitter questions about how the murder and trial were covered by media, in particular the degree of attention paid to Forde's radical nativism.

Forde, the ringleader of a trio accused of carrying out the killings, was also the leader of a Minuteman splinter group known as Minuteman American Defense, or MAD. She had been pushed out of the more mainstream Minuteman Civil Defense Corps for what members described to CNN as "unstable behavior."

Forde was not convicted of a hate crime. The motive for the home invasion that left Brisenia Flores and her father Raul dead was ostensibly robbery, for which Forde was also convicted. But there has been much criticism that mainstream media not only arrived late to the story, but in its coverage failed to sufficiently address the beliefs espoused by Forde as relevant to the crime.

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Forty years later, controversy over journalist Ruben Salazar's death lives on

Photo courtesy of cindylu/Flickr (Creative Commons)

An old interior shot of the Silver Dollar, the bar where Ruben Salazar was fatally struck, taken from a UCLA collection

Over the past several days, the Los Angles Times has featured an extensive compilation of records pertaining to the life and death of veteran journalist Ruben Salazar, an award-winning Times columnist and news director for KMEX-TV who was killed in 1970 during a violent protest in East Los Angeles.

Salazar died after being struck on the head by a tear gas projectile, fired by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy into the bar where Salazar was taking a break. An early draft of a report by the county Office of Independent Review, which is officially due out today, points to Salazar's death being an accident. Still, there are those who continue to have doubts.

The comments from readers under the recent stories in the LAT have been interesting. Some don't remember the killing, which at the time rocked L.A.'s Mexican American community and the burgeoning Chicano civil rights movement. Some have wondered why the violent death of a journalist 40 years ago at the hands of local authorities should still matter today. Others who remember the incident not only recall the details, but continue to wonder if Salazar was targeted. The journalist was an outspoken critic of how law enforcement dealt with Latino residents.

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