How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The Arab Spring in the Southland (Video)

It has been nearly six months since a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire in protest after a confrontation with police. His desperate act sparked a series of pro-democracy protests that have since engulfed the Middle East, driving masses into the streets and toppling governments.

Earlier this year, KPCC staff videographer Grant Slater began videotaping solidarity rallies held in Los Angeles by Middle Eastern immigrants in support of democratic reforms back home. This led him to a series of other stories, those of immigrants from six Arab countries watching these revolutions take place from 8,000 miles away. We’ll feature their stories this week in a five-day series, taking in the events of what has become known as the Arab Spring through their eyes.

Read More...

Top ten secrets of the Latin American supermarket


Moving past the piñata section at a Superior warehouse store in Bell, Calif. Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


As immigrant enclaves grow and evolve, so do their grocery stores. In the age of the warehouse style supermarket, the ethnic mega-bodega has become part of the landscape as well, making it as easy to buy once hard-to-find products from around the world as it is to shop at Vons or Ralphs.

Want banana leaves for Central American tamales? No need seek out the right carnicería any more. Southeast Asian sambal sauce? There are supermarkets that practically stock aisles of it.

All you need is a good guide. Last month, Multi-American kicked off an occasional series of informal guides to navigating the ethnic supermarket, most recently taking readers on a tour of a large Superior Grocers store, part of a chain catering to Latinos in Southern California.

Read More...

Understanding the escalating controversy over Secure Communities

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A detainee waits to be processed at an immigrant detention facility Arizona. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A heated controversy over the federal immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities has been brewing since last year, when several local jurisdictions around the country tried to opt out of the program, only to learn they couldn't. But in the past month, it has escalated to a boiling point.

Since then, a series of internal emails released revealed varying degrees of miscommunication between federal immigration officials and state officials over the mandatory nature of the fingerprint-sharing program, which allows for the fingerprints of people booked into local jail systems to be checked against the Homeland Security department’s immigration records. The emails irked some elected officials, including Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose, who has called for an investigation.

Read More...

In the news this morning: Migrant dangers in Mexico, state immigration laws, Secure Communities and domestic violence, more

Mexico migrants: Mexico immigration agency fires top officials amid reports of collusion with kidnappers - Los Angeles Times The head of the agency announces steps to tighten and speed screening of immigration agents in states traversed most often by Central American migrants en route to the United States.

Regardless of tweaks, state immigration laws may never be constitutional - The Washington Post Amid a spate of recent state attempts at immigration laws and resulting lawsuits, legal scholars say that the bottom line remains the same: Immigration is enforced by the federal government, and state attempts at enforcing immigration laws step into potentially unconstitutional territory.

The Associated Press: Computer glitch forces redo of US visa lottery - The Associated Press The results will be scratched, disappointing tens of thousands of would-be immigrants who were notified this year that they had won a chance to come and live legally in the United States.

Read More...

Goodbye Encarnación, hello Estefany

Photo by David Herholz/Flickr (Creative Commons)


The website for Telemundo's Mun2 channel recently posted an amusing slideshow on the evolution of baby names in Spanish, from old-fashioned traditional names with a religious bent like Encarnación and Guadalupe to English names filtered through Spanish, à la Estefany, Yenifer and Jhonatan.

The slideshow is unscientific fun, but it's true: While there are still plenty of kids with traditional Spanish names being welcomed into the world in Latin America and the United States, they have been joined by a growing contingent of boys with names like Jhonny (with that spelling, like the Detroit Tigers' Jhonny Peralta) and girls named Yenifer and Yasmin (as opposed to Jasmine or the Spanish word for the flower, jazmín).

It's one of those cultural phenomenons that occurs when one culture mirrors another and the reflection turns out not as a mirror image, but rather one shaped by the tastes, colors, and sounds of those doing the mirroring.

Read More...