How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Working on Workers’ Day: The street vendors of the May Day march

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Last Sunday's May 1 immigration march, the sixth since hundreds of thousands marched in Los Angeles and elsewhere on May 1, 2006 in support of hoped-for immigration reforms, was small in comparison to those of recent years. Some marchers still expressed optimism about a possible overhaul of the nation's immigration system; others vented over the lack of one. At one point police estimated the crowd at about 4,000 people, a far cry from five years ago.

But the small crowd this May 1, which in some countries is celebrated as International Workers' Day, didn't deter the immigrant street vendors who showed up to do what generations of immigrants have come to the United States to do, which is to make money.

They stationed themselves to the sides of the march hawking ice cream, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, fresh fruit, American flags, hats, shaved-ice raspados and bottled water to sun-parched marchers. A hot dog vendor named Lupe explained how she'd turned to street vending after being dismissed from her clothing factory job for lack of papers. "I'm here working, but I'm also supporting the march," she said.


Immigration and the bin Laden effect: More on the changes since 9/11

Photo by The Pope/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A post on Monday outlined a few of the direct and indirect ways in which the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden changed the nation's immigration landscape. Legislative reaction to the attacks propelled legal and policy changes that led to tightened borders and beefed up immigration enforcement as national security took center stage. Among these changes was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in early 2003.

In the days since, there have been other takes on immigration and the bin Laden effect. Today in a post in ColorLines, Seth Freed Wessler wrote about DHS's National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS, a program whose recent end has been applauded by Muslim groups:

Muslims in the U.S. became the most ominous threat, by policy. The Department of Homeland Security created the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), commonly called “Special Registration,” which functioned as a deportation net specifically for Muslims. As Colorlines’ Channing Kennedy wrote in April:

Initiated in September 2002, NSEERS functioned like Arizona’s SB 1070, with working-class Muslims as the target. Its first phase required all non-citizen male residents, ages 16 to 65, from a list of “suspect” nations, to register at INS offices. Thousands of families went out of their way to comply with the law, thinking it would be part of the government-sponsored pathways to citizenship that they were already participating in. Instead, in July 2003, the Washington Post reported it as the deportation of “the largest number of visitors from Middle Eastern and other Muslim countries in U.S. history—more than 13,000 of the nearly 83,000 men older than 16 who complied with the registration program by various deadlines between last September and April.”

Last week, the federal government officially ended the NSEERS program.


In the news this morning: A White House immigration strategy, Patch Latino in the works, the bin Laden effect on immigration, more

President Obama to ramp up immigration fight - Politico Obama's "sustained personal campaign" will rely in part on recruiting outsiders to pressure Congress to take up the controversial immigration reform issue.

AOL Huffington Post to launch Patch Latino for Southern California - The new Spanish-language Patch Latino, to launch this year, will feature content similar to that of the Patch network, well as topics of special interest to Latino readers.

American Muslim Students React to Osama bin Laden’s Death - ABC News From the piece: "...sentiments are split among Muslim-American students over the death of the infamous terrorist and the subsequent perception of Islam among non-Muslim Americans."

Bin Laden Was a Pretext for Anti-Immigrant Policies - Huffington Post University of San Francisco law professor Bill Ong Hing's take on post-9/11 immigration policies.


A view from Little Arabia (Video)

KPCC staff videographer Grant Slater caught up with blogger Rashad Al-Dabbagh of the Happy Arab News Service yesterday in Anaheim's Little Arabia, where Al-Dabbagh was at a restaurant when he first heard news of Osama bin Laden's death in Pakistan. Now, he said, "with the death of Osama bin Laden, the person who symbolized terror, we should move forward."


Creating race: How the 'Hispanic or Latino' category came to be

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

An interesting article published by the Migration Policy Institute examines the racialization of those who make up the “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origin" category on census forms.

Written by UC Irvine sociologist Rubén Rumbaut, a veteran chronicler of the immigrant experience, the piece delves into the history of racial and ethnic classifications, and on the impact that what began as an administrative move to classify people of Latin American ancestry has had on how they now define themselves in terms of race.

Rumbaut writes:

Are Hispanics a "race" or, more precisely, a racialized category? In fact, are they even a "they?" Is there a Latino or Hispanic ethnic group, cohesive and self-conscious, sharing a sense of peoplehood in the same way that there is an African American people in the United States? Or is it mainly administrative shorthand devised for statistical purposes; a one-size-fits-all label that subsumes diverse peoples and identities?