How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

An unfortunate computer glitch puts the 'visa lottery' on the map

Photo by John Wardell (Netinho)/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Last week, a computer glitch dashed the hopes of tens of thousands of immigrants who had hoped to come legally to the United States - and put one of the quirkier programs within the U.S. immigration system on the map.

It's called the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, a U.S. State Department program often referred to simply as "the visa lottery." The congressionally-mandated program makes up to 55,000 immigrant visas available each year to people who apply for them via random selection, with results selected electronically. It was announced late last week that the results of the 2012 lottery would have to be scratched because of a computer programming error.

"The results were not valid because they did not represent a fair, random selection of entrants, as required by U.S. law," read an announcement on the State Department website. "If you checked this website during the first week in May and found a notice that you had been selected for further processing or a notice that you had not been selected, that notice has been rescinded and is no longer valid."


In the news this morning: California's changing face, states and Secure Communities, the NSEERS program comes to an end, more

California's Latino and Asian populations rise while white declines - Sacramento Bee California's ethnic mix is shifting not only because there are greater numbers of Latinos and Asians, but because there are fewer whites.

States Rebel Against Some Deportations - Wall Street Journal Such states as Massachusetts, New York, Illinois and California have raised objections to the federal Secure Communities program because while it's designed to remove criminals from the country, it has led to the deportation of thousands of people without criminal records.

Suit names jail, infirmary in detainee’s 2009 death - The Boston Globe The daughter of a 49-year-old immigrant detainee who died in 2009 after an infection overwhelmed his body filed a federal lawsuit yesterday, alleging gross negligence leading to his death.


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.


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.


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.