How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Yemen in Bakersfield: Hoping for a revolution 8,000 miles away (Video)

The Los Angeles region has large enclaves of immigrants from throughout the Middle East, but it's in Bakersfield that immigrants from the Persian Gulf nation of Yemen have established a tight-knit community. KPCC videographer Grant Slater traveled there recently to profile Yemenis hoping for democratic reforms in their native country, among them a check-cashing store owner who hopes to return to live in Yemen someday.

The video is part of a five-day series on the Multi-American and KPCC websites featuring the stories of immigrants watching the unfolding of what has become known as the Arab Spring, coping with the political upheaval back home from a distance.

Yesterday we met two Southern California doctors, both of them immigrants from Libya, who became friends after both traveled there recently to treat victims of the conflict. Tuesday, we met Egyptian immigrants who shared their thoughts on the revolution there and its aftermath. On Monday, we met a Tunisian-born business and pro-democracy activist.

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Will the U.S. see more refugees from unrest in the Middle East?

Photo by syriana2011/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Protesters in Damascus, Syria, April 2011

A video series on Multi-American this week is featuring the stories of Southern California immigrants from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria, all of them coping in their own way with the political upheaval taking place in their native countries.

But what about their loved ones and others back home, those directly affected by violence and instability, especially in conflict zones like Libya? Will more of them be coming to the United States as refugees?

Officials from both the U.S. State Department and the United Nations agency that handles refugees have said that they have not seen a notable increase in nationals of those countries affected by what has become known as the "Arab Spring" seeking to come to the U.S. as refugees. However, the agencies are seeing resettlement demand among people who were already refugees, particularly in Libya, who are being displaced once more by the conflict there.

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In the news this morning: Secure Communities investigation, report on domestic terrorism cases, state immigration bills and more

Homeland Security to investigate Secure Communities program - Los Angeles Times The Homeland Security department plans to investigate the controversial immigration enforcement program, which purports to target "serious convicted felons" for deportation but has ensnared many who have not been convicted, or been convicted of minor offenses.

U.S. targets Muslims in pursuing domestic terrorism cases, report says - Los Angeles Times A new NYU report alleges that the government's use of surveillance, informants and other tactics has failed to enhance public safety and instead prompts human rights concerns.

Immigration Bill Advances in South Carolina, But Bills Get Tabled in Oklahoma and Tennessee - Fox News Latino An anti-illegal immigration bill similar to Arizona's SB 1070, which would allow police to check for immigration status, is moving forward in South Carolina, while similar measures have been put off for a year in Oklahoma and Tennessee.

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More ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: Kitfo

Photo by Manogamo/Flickr (Creative Commons)


Since our list of unsung ethnic delicacies this week has so far focused on meat - most recently, raw meat - why stop now?

A couple of different colleagues lately have praised the virtues of raw Ethiopian kitfo, a spicy relative of steak tartare and its global cousins, among them the Armenian-style chee kufta featured yesterday.

Kitfo is quite unlike the simpler chee kufta and its Lebanese cousin, kibbeh nayyeh. The dish is made from minced lean beef that has been flavored with an elaborate spice blend containing chili peppers and fragrant spices, among them cardamom and cloves, and with seasoned clarified butter. It's typically served with flat injera bread and a mild cheese, which balances the spice.

With its complex seasonings, the dish tends to surprise those who didn't grow up with it, but grow to like it. Here is what Elahe Izadi, one of my NPR Argo Network colleagues from WAMU's DCentric blog, had to say about her first kitfo experience:

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The Arab Spring in the Southland: Libya (Video)

five-day series of videos on the Multi-American and KPCC websites has been featuring the stories of immigrants from six Arab countries, all grappling with the political upheaval taking place in their native countries 8,000 miles away.

In two videos posted yesterday, Egyptian immigrants Mostafa Said, Tamer Kattan and Wedad Abdou shared their thoughts on the revolution there and its aftermath. On Monday we met Bechir Blagui, a Tunisian-born business and pro-democracy activist.

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