How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

In the news, this afternoon: Some U.S. Muslims hopeful after bin Laden's death, L.A. immigration march, Secure Communities and states, more

U.S. Muslims hope for better days after bin Laden - Reuters Some are hopeful that Osama bin Laden's death yesterday in Pakistan at the hands of the U.S. will help cast off a stigma attached to their community since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Calif may let locals opt out of immigration checks- Associated Press California lawmakers have joined those in Illinois and Washington state hoping to extricate their law enforcement agencies from mandatory participation in the federal Secure Communities immigration enforcement program.

Mayor Bloomberg suggests open door for immigrants -- to Detroit - New York Post On the New York mayor's recent crack about sending immigrants to struggling cities like Detroit to help revive the local economy.

Immigrants keep pressure on state legislators - Miami Herald Protests continue over proposed stringent anti-illegal immigration bills in Florida.


Five ways in which Osama bin Laden changed the immigration landscape

Photo by Romel Jacinto/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The direct and indirect repercussions that the late Osama bin Laden's actions in masterminding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have had on the agencies, policies and attitudes affecting immigrants in the United States are far too many to mention in a short list. The attacks led to the dissolution of the federal immigration infrastructure at the time, to several legislative and policy changes, and to an increasingly enforcement-heavy and divisive immigration climate.

Here are a few of the major changes:

1) The end of INS, the beginning of DHS: Criticism of the decades-old Immigration and Naturalization Service, after it it was discovered that some of the 9/11 hijackers were here on visas that shouldn't have been granted, led to the end of the INS in early 2003. The agency, which at the time governed all immigration functions from visas to border security, was replaced by the much broader Department of Homeland Security. Three sub-agencies within DHS were given authority over immigration matters: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (overseeing customs and border security, including the U.S. Border Patrol); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, overseeing functions such as naturalization and the granting of legal residency; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which is responsible for immigration enforcement in the United States, oversees immigrant detention and deportation, and is responsible for enforcement policies such as Secure Communities and 287(g).


Secrets of the Latin American supermarket: Part 2

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A post yesterday took readers on the first part of a tour of the Superior Grocers warehouse store in Bell, one of many large supermarkets throughout Southern California stocking the foodstuffs and other items Latino shoppers seek. Today, part dos: The best chips and sodas, the santería section and more. We'll conclude with one more installment next week.

This is the second in an occasional series of informal guides to navigating the ethnic supermarket, the mega-store grocery chains catering to immigrants that have become a part of the regional landscape. Last week, guest blogger Lory Tatoulian took readers on a tour of a Super King store, home to all things Armenian.

(Continued from yesterday.)

Ay, the snacks. Where to start?

At a mainstream supermarket, the snack aisle tends to be off my otherwise health-conscious radar. Not here. The chips at a Latin American supermarket are as bad for you as those anywhere, but they are not to be passed up. Long before the introduction of chile and lime to U.S. snack consumers, Mexican snack makers were imbuing their chips with the winning combo.


Home, sort of: A 'Mexican gringo' in Mexico City

Among the many writers appearing this weekend on panels at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, held this year at USC, is one whose book I've been particularly enjoying lately.

In 2007, former LA Weekly and Los Angeles Times staff writer Daniel Hernandez set off to live in Mexico City, a place he had visited after college but otherwise had little personal connection with. A Mexican American from San Diego, he was intrigued by the "impossible megacity," as he describes it, a cultural capital that is woefully undervalued in the United States.

The result of his move is "Down and Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century," published earlier this year. The book starts out in December 2007 as Hernandez participates in the annual Virgen of Guadalupe pilgrimage to La Villa in the north of the city, a mix of religion and revelry. "This is my first real test, my welcoming," he writes. "Not as a Catholic, but as a paisano."


Five years after the 'Great American Boycott,' what's changed?

Photo by jeromebot/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Marchers in downtown Los Angeles on May 1, 2006

Sunday marks five years since the massive immigration reform marches of May 1, 2006. It was that year, amid a wave of activism, that May 1 first became closely associated with immigration rallies.

Things have changed quite a bit since, something I discussed in detail during a recent segment on KPCC's Madeleine Brand Show. But with this year's march coming up in two days, it's worth revisiting the history of the May 1 marches, as well as what to expect this year.

A little background: May 1 is traditionally known as International Workers' Day, celebrated as a "labor day" holiday in some parts of the world. In 2006, at the height of a large immigrant rights movement that revolved around talk of broad immigration reforms and guest workers during the Bush administration, immigrant rights advocates wishing to point out the connection between immigrant workers and the nation's economic engine organized what was referred to as the "Great American Boycott." The goal was for people to abstain from buying or selling anything, working or even attending school, anything that could demonstrate the power of immigrants.