How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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?

Read More...

Who has had to wait the longest for a green card this month?


It’s the beginning of May, which means it's time for another look at the U.S. State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin. Each month the bulletin lists which categories of hopeful immigrants are up to receive immigrant visas, as well as who has been waiting the longest.

Little has changed since last month. Those who have been in line the longest, sponsored to come to the United State legally by their relatives, are hopeful immigrants from the Philippines. And the wait remains staggering: The ones who have waited the longest filed their petitions back in 1988.

Here are the top four categories of immigrants who have endured the longest waits:

1) Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of more than 23 years (petitions filed April 8, 1988).

2) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of more than 19 years (petitions filed February 15, 1992)

3) Unmarried adult (21 and over) sons and daughters of U.S. legal permanent residents from Mexico, a wait of close to 19 years (petitions filed August 1, 1992)

4) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from Mexico, a wait of close to 19 years (petitions filed November 15, 1992)

Read More...

In the news this morning: Hope for Muslims in U.S., immigration reform talks in D.C., 'birthers' undaunted, Latino integration, more

Osama bin Laden death: Experts hopeful that Bin Laden's death will help ease anti-Muslim sentiment in U.S. - Los Angeles Times Some say the tense relations and suspicions faced by Muslims in the U.S. since the attacks of 9/11 might come to an end. Others say such change will come slowly.

Obama to Meet with Hispanic Congressional Caucus to Discuss Immigration Reform - Fox News Latino Now that the president has taken care of other business, he is meeting once again with Latino lawmakers to discuss how to fix problems in the immigration system.

Southern California 'birthers' continue to press their case - Los Angeles Times "Birthers" who weren't swayed by last week's release of President Obama's long-form Hawaii birth certificate and want to insist he is not a citizen are going to court.

Navy SEAL, Son of Mexican Immigrants, Helped Kill Osama Bin Laden, Report Says - AOL Latino One of the U.S. soldiers involved in the mission that killed Osama bin Laden is reportedly the son of immigrants from Guanajuato.

Read More...

Q&A: A Los Angeles Muslim community leader on the damage bin Laden caused U.S. Muslims

Salam Al-Marayati, photo courtesy of MPAC

The terrorist attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden affected all Americans, but they affected American Muslims in a unique way. One of the groups that has called for greater tolerance in the face of anti-Muslim sentiment and tried to clear up misperceptions is the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which has offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The group's president, Salam Al-Marayati, addressed via e-mail today a few questions relating to the damaging effects that bin Laden's actions had on Muslims in this country, and what the future may hold now that he's gone.

M-A: The attacks of 9/11 affected everyone, but can you tell me in particular how these actions changed the way in which American Muslims live during this past decade?

Al-Marayati: We have many young Muslims who have either grown up with 9/11 impacting their identity or were born after 9/11. As a result, our image in the U.S. is dependent on the perception of how secure our nation is. With more insecurity comes anti-Muslim sentiment.

M-A: Do what degree do U.S. Muslims (and others, such as Sikhs) live in fear today as a result?

Al-Marayati: I wouldn't say fear is a driver, but more alienation and psychological ghettoization.

M-A: How have Muslims been affected not only by policies such as the Patriot Act, but by public perceptions and/or discrimination?

Al-Marayati: Tremendously, since it only reinforces the perception that Muslims are a problem in our society, either a victim or a villain.

M-A: Do you think that the death of bin Laden will have any effect, or do you think this community will subject to more of this for some time still?

Al-Marayati: We hope it is the mark of an end to a dark era and an ushering in of a new era for mutual understanding in U.S.-Muslim world relations. With the rise of democracy in the Middle East and the descent of Al-Qaeda, there is an opportunity for partnership between people in the Muslim world and in the U.S. We can't expect our governments to address issues involving culture and religion. It involves people-to-people dynamics.

Read More...

With bin Laden gone, do U.S. Muslims have a reason for hope?

Photo by Steven Cuevas/KPCC


Throughout the day, Muslim and Middle Eastern community leaders around the country have been coming forward to express relief over the death of Osama bin Laden yesterday during a targeted mission by U.S. forces in Pakistan. Some have also expressed a sense of hope.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, orchestrated by bin Laden, set off a chain reaction that to this day has left American Muslims reeling, from an early hate crime wave to anti-mosque protests to, just recently, a House hearing on the "extent of radicalization" among Muslims in the United States.

Several of those quoted today expressed optimism that bin Laden's death will mark a turning point for the larger U.S. Muslim community, much of it composed of immigrants, that for several years now has felt misunderstood and under scrutiny.

Read More...