How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Introducing the giant Frankenjalapeño

Photo by bunchofpants/Flickr (Creative Commons)

No, it's not big enough to ride like a horse

Perhaps it's because I grew up in a part of L.A. where people grew chiles in their backyards, but I did a double take the other day upon coming across a press release heralding the introduction of a giant genetically modified jalapeño.

It has a rather creative name, the NuMex Jalmundo. From the release: ..."the name Jalmundo is a contraction of jalapeño and the Spanish word for world (mundo), implying that it is as big as the world."

That's a lot of rajas. Though according to the chile's breeders, the mega-jalapeño is intended not so much for tamal consumers as it is for the patrons of chain restaurants that serve jalapeño poppers, to be used as a plus-sized vessel for cheese. The release bills the chiles as "perfect for poppers."

I'd somehow perceived chiles as a humble, untweaked crop. As it turns out, the NuMex Jalmundo - a cross between a standard jalapeño and a bell pepper - is one of a number of engineered chiles. It was developed by the Chile Pepper Institute of New Mexico State University, which has a chile breeding program.

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A guide to birthright citizenship and the 14th Amendment

Photo by Cliff 1066/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A child participates in a parade of flags, October 2010

The discussion over whether the United States should grant automatic citizenship to everyone who is born here isn't necessarily a new one, but in recent months, it's moved beyond talk.

In the past month, a couple of different legislative approaches have emerged to ending what is now a constitutional right under the 14th Amendment, affirmed by a landmark 1898 Supreme Court case that came out of California. One is a federal House bill that proposes a change to immigration law, introduced in early January by Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa; another, less orthodox approach involves a coalition of conservative state legislators who plan to introduce bills at the state level that they hope will land in court, forcing a new Supreme Court review and, they hope, a reinterpretation that would deny citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants.

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In the news this morning: Interview with anti-birthright citizenship advocate, AZ border killing trial, workplace raids, Vang Pao funeral, m

The New Immigration Debate - National Review Online Kris Kobach, the new Kansas secretary of state and the attorney behind SB 1070 and new legislation challenging birthright citizenship, weights in on the legislative campaign to deny U.S. citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants. Arizona lawmakers plan to file two related bills today.

Minuteman Vigilante's Arizona Murder Trial: Brisenia Flores' Mother Testifies - The Daily Beast On the trial of Shawna Forde, accused of being the ringleader behind the home invasion attack on a Latino family in an Arizona border town that left a father and his 9-year-old daughter dead.

Immigration activists weigh in on State of Union - The Orange County Register Reaction from immigrant advocates, who criticized Obama for saying too little about long-promised immigration reforms in Tuesday's address, and from immigration restriction advocates, who complained that he seemed to support foreign workers and students too much.

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Two great maps: Who we are, in L.A. and in the U.S.

KCET.org

Screen shot of changing demographics map on KCET.org, January 2011

This is turning out to be the week of the excellent demographic map. Yesterday, KCET posted a fascinating interactive map revealing Los Angeles County's changing demographics decade by decade since 1940. Each click brings a new decade and a new ethnic mix.

Especially interesting is seeing the region's once small African American and Latino communities grow and, in South Los Angeles and surrounding areas, eventually merge. One can also see the gradual emergence of the San Gabriel Valley's Asian American community between 1980 and 2000. The map accompanies an interactive series on the history of a onetime Compton agricultural zone known as Richland Farms.

Yesterday I also came across an equally cool map, this one a national map of surnames published by National Geographic earlier this month. On this map, one can zoom in on a part of the country and see which surnames are the most common.

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Anti-birthright citizenship bills to be filed in Arizona tomorrow

Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images

Latino elementary school students recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a September 11 memorial service in Tyler, Texas, 2003

Tomorrow has been set as the target date in Arizona for the introduction of two anti-birthright citizenship bills, to be filed in both the state Senate and House.

The Arizona Capitol Times ran a brief Associated Press report with these details:

Republican Sen. Ron Gould of Lake Havasu City said he and Republican Rep. John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills agreed on a day for each to introduce the legislation but Gould said that timetables for consideration of the bills by the separate chambers will diverge at that point.

Gould is the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chairman and he said he expects the committee will consider his bill in early February. Meanwhile, Kavanagh indicated that House action on his bill might wait for approval of a new state budget.


Earlier this month, immigrant advocates in Arizona had

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