How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Why the birthright citizenship battle is heating up now

Photo by Chuck Coker/Flickr (Creative Commons)


There was a time when even in immigration restriction circles, talk of doing away with automatic U.S. citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants was an argument that didn’t make it far beyond the fringes. So why is it now that this proposition has made it to the center of the immigration debate?

The timing of multiple new bills aimed at ending birthright citizenship isn't an accident. Two years ago, a House bill that proposed amending the Immigration and Naturalization act to limit citizenship at birth was introduced by Rep. Elton Gallegy, a Simi Valley Republican who now leads the House immigration subcommittee. The bill died quietly, attracting only one co-sponsor.

But by late last summer, shortly after the furor died down surrounding Arizona's SB 1070 as the stringent anti-illegal immigration bill headed to federal court, talk of ending birthright citizenship resumed anew. Plans emerged either to amend the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which grants citizenship to those born on U.S. soil, or to seek a judicial reinterpretation.

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Honoring civil rights pioneer Fred Korematsu

Photo Courtesy of the family of Fred T. Korematsu/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Fred Korematsu, seated center, at a 1983 press conference announcing the re-opening of his civil rights case.

Sunday marks the first celebration of a new state holiday, Fred Korematsu Day, for the late Japanese American civil rights hero whose journey as an activist began when he challenged his forced incarceration in an internment camp during World War II.

A bill approving the Jan. 30 holiday was signed last September by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, making it the first holiday in the United States honoring an Asian American leader.

Assembly member Warren Furutani, whose 55th district includes parts of the South Bay and Long Beach, sponsred the bill. He wrote about Korematsu's legacy in yesterday's Daily Breeze:

While the use of the term "concentration camp" may seem controversial to some, we must not forget that Japanese-Americans incarcerated during World War II were American citizens who were uprooted from their homes, forced to live in remote camps, and were not given due process of law. In fact, President Franklin Roosevelt used the term "concentration camp" to identify the camps while they were in existence.

At one time, this chapter was virtually ignored in American history books. But in the late 1960s, information started to emerge, and outrage accompanied the growing awareness about this dark time.

One of the unexpected actors to emerge in this unfolding drama was a humble individual who challenged the law and executive order that allowed Japanese-Americans to be incarcerated in 1942. His name was Fred Korematsu, and he decided that what he learned about freedom, as an American citizen of Japanese ancestry in San Francisco Bay Area public schools, applied to him as well.

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In the news this morning: AZ anti-birthright citizenship bills, bad Latino films, Egyptian American reactions, Muslim students, more

Arizona’s new anti-birthright citizenship bills - MULTI-AMERICAN State legislators in Arizona introduced four bills yesterday with the goal of denying U.S. citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants. Proponents hope that the bills will trigger a Supreme Court review of the 14th Amendment.

Why are so many films for Latinos bad? - Salon From the description of a trailer for "Prada to Nada," a new comedy: "Lowriders! Scary chola girls who look like they wandered in from "Mi Vida Loca"! Tequila shots! Mantillas!"

Three Pennsylvania Cops Cleared of Coverup Charges in Immigrant Death, Two Convicted of Lesser Charges - Fox News Latino A federal jury in Pennsylvania has dropped coverup charges against three former policemen accused of trying to hinder an FBI investigation into the July 2008 murder of Luis Ramirez, a 25-year-old Mexican immigrant.

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Arizona's new anti-birthright citizenship bills

Photo by Patrick Dockens/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Arizona state flag

As they had promised, legislators in both the state House and Senate in Arizona introduced bills today seeking to deny automatic U.S. citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.

State Rep. John Kavanagh introduced two House bills that together closely resemble the text of a model bill introduced earlier this month by a coalition of conservative legislators, drafted with common legal counsel. State Sen. Ron Gould filed Senate versions of the same two bills, with co-sponsors that included Sen. Russell Pearce, an outspoken critic of birthright citizenship and the sponsor of SB 1070.

The Arizona Republic had this synopsis:

House Bill 2561 and Senate Bill 1309 defines an Arizona citizen as someone "lawfully domiciled" in Arizona who is born in the U.S. and is "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." It defines individuals who are subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. as children who have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or a legal permanent U.S. resident.

House Bill 2562 and Senate Bill 1308 would require Arizona to create separate birth certificates for children who are deemed to be Arizona citizens under House Bill 2561 and those who are not. It also seeks permission from Congress to form compacts with other states doing the same thing.

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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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