How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

More Dream Act students prepare to 'come out'

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Student Dream Act supporters react after the Senate vote tally is read, December 18, 2010

This week, some undocumented students, graduates and others are expected to reprise the actions of other student activists last year with a risky move: going public with their immigration status.

The strategy gained popularity last year among young supporters of the Dream Act, proposed legislation that would have granted conditional legal status to qualifying young people who attend college or join the military. The measure cleared the House last December, but failed to make it through the Senate.

This year, several Dream Act advocacy groups and websites have been promoting what's being called "National Coming Out of the Shadows" week between March 14-21, kicking off with a "coming out" day this Thursday, March 10. Sites like DreamActivist.org have been seeking coming-out stories via Twitter and posting them. From one posted today:

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Utah bucks a trend by letting undocumented immigrants work

Photo by jphilipg/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Construction signs, August 2008

Last Friday, Utah became the first state to pass its own guest-worker bill, and one of two states lately to weigh anti-illegal immigration legislation that makes a work-related exception for undocumented immigrants.

Late last month, a Texas state representative otherwise known for her tough-on-illegal immigration attitude introduced a bill that would punish employers who hire unauthorized workers with jail time and up to $10,000 in fines, but makes an exception for those who hire maids, gardeners and other domestic workers. And the bill that cleared both legislative houses Friday night in Utah - part of a broader immigration package that includes tougher enforcement - would provide a two-year work permit to undocumented immigrants who could prove they had been living and working in Utah. In order to qualify, they would have to pass a criminal background check and pay fines.

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In the news this morning: Utah's guest worker plan, lawsuit over foreign same-sex spouses, White House to reassures Muslims, more

Utah Republicans Adopt Alternative Approach on Immigration - New York Times Utah has broken ranks with other states cracking down on illegal immigration by passing immigration bills that include a guest worker program which would allow unauthorized immigrants to work legally.

On the Internet, does anyone know whether you’re black or Latino? - Poynter.org As part of AOL's acquisition of Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington is to oversee AOL Latino, AOL Black Voices and other AOL sites.

Immigration group to sue federal government over DOMA - PinkPaper.com The LGBT group Immigration Equality plans to sue the federal government over the Defense of Marriage Act because it prevents married U.S. citizens from bringing foreign same-sex spouses to live with them.

ICE Addresses Pr. William County Lawsuit |- NBC Washington U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released a report detailing why some undocumented immigrants previously picked up by authorities may have been let go. One of these was a man previously arrested twice for drunk driving who now stands trial in the drunk-driving death of a Virginia nun.

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Before Banksy, the running family was immigration icon and art

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

One of the original signs as seen on I-5 just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

One of the original signs as seen on I-5 just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

One of the original signs as seen on I-5 just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

One of the original signs as seen on I-5 just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006


If you don't live in California, you might not be familiar with the road sign that has become synonymous with illegal immigration and immigration in general, and that has spawned countless interpretations over the years. But you may have seen the image itself, or a version of it.

It's the black silhouette of a family of three set against a bright yellow background, the characters leaning forward as they run. There's a man, a woman and a little girl, her pigtails flying. Even without faces, the characters convey a sense of desperation.

The running family was a familiar sight to motorists driving between Los Angeles and San Diego for close to 20 years, emblazoned on signs along Interstate 5. Several of the signs went up in the San Diego area in the early 1990s as a warning to motorists at a time when smugglers were forcing their charges to run across the freeway to evade immigration authorities, often with tragic results.

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An exception for 'the help' in an anti-illegal immigration bill: good, bad, or ugly reality?

Photo by Bulent Yusef/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A detail from a mural in London, June 2006

An anti-illegal immigration bill introduced recently in Texas proposing tough state sanctions against employers who hire unauthorized workers makes an exception: It's okay to hire an undocumented maid, gardener, or other employee "for the purpose of obtaining labor or other work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence."

Since its introduction late last month, its sponsor state Rep. Debbie Riddle, who is known for having a particularly tough-on-immigration stance (and perhaps best for the term "terror babies"), has received a fair amount of criticism and perhaps an equal share of ridicule, while others have praised her for being realistic.

After all, as evidenced by the undocumented housekeeper scandal that helped derail the campaign of California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman last fall, few Americans are immune from the underground economy. The proposed Texas law threatens to punish employers with up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, so including those who hire domestic help as offenders could mean a lot of Texans in hot water, no doubt a few politicos among them.

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