How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

On Mexican food, farmers and NAFTA

Photo by April J. Gazmen/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Enchiladas en mole poblano, October 2007

Last week, when I was excitedly tweeting about UNESCO's designation of Mexican food as an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” - right up there with French cooking - I didn't think too far beyond how this long-misunderstood underdog of the world's most sophisticated (and yes, delicious) cuisines was finally getting its due. But the chef of one popular L.A. Mexican eatery did, and what he wrote about it is worth noting.

In a recent guest post on the L.A. Forward site, Lotería! Grill's founder and executive chef Jimmy Shaw wrote:

Perhaps with the interest in discovering more of the beautiful flavors of Mexico there can be a healing of its agricultural community, which has been decimated post-NAFTA, with Mexican farmers being displaced by large agribusiness. With that growing industrialization, many of the indigenous ingredients and techniques that are the very roots of this special designation are being lost.

Sadly, Mexico now imports many of its basic ingredients such as corn and chiles, some from countries as far away as China. Chiles from China?  I hope with the growing interest we have seen in the past few years for the more complex flavors of Mexico, we also have an environment where we can protect the indigenous ingredients and customs of this great cuisine, and promote the cultivation of high-quality, native ingredients in Mexico, by Mexican farmers.

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In the news this morning: Student Steve Li returns home, GOP leaders prepare to battle DREAM Act, birth tourism, more

Freed student Steve Li returns to S.F. - San Francisco Chronicle The Chinese-American college student was almost deported to Peru, where he was born while his family lived there temporarily. He's out of detention now, but "it's still surreal to me," he said.


Asian and Latinos Voters Keep Pollsters Guessing - ColorLines Recent poll results have shown that Asian Americans and Latinos in California tend to have more socially and fiscally conservative values, but that they have more liberal attitudes on topics such as immigration and education.


GOP readies for DREAM Act fight - Scott Wong - Politico Republican leaders prepare to take down the proposed legislation, which would allow a path to legal status for undocumented college students and military recruits. A white paper cites drawbacks and talking points.

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Some good reads as State Question 755 winds its way through court

Photo by Il Primo Uomo/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A temporary restraining order will continue in effect until the end of this month blocking a controversial new Oklahoma law that, if implemented, would amend the state's constitution to ban the use of Islamic Sharia law in the state's courts. United Press International reported that in a hearing today, a federal judge in Oklahoma City extended an order blocking implementation of what was known on the ballot as State Question 755, approved by voters in the Nov. 2 election.

The ballot initiative was approved by an overwhelming majority - 70 percent - even though there is no known instance of Islamic law ever being cited in Oklahoma courts.

Two days after the ballot measure was approved, the director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed suit to stop its implementation on constitutional grounds. Today the restraining order was extended until Nov. 29, when a ruling is expected on whether the law violates the U.S. constitution.

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Illegal, undocumented, unauthorized? More debate over immigrants and AP style

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Graffiti in Munich, Germany, Feb. 2008

Last month I wrote about the discussion provoked by a campaign organized by ColorLines, an online magazine covering issues related to racial justice, to discourage media use of "illegals" in reference to immigrants who arrived in this country illegally or overstayed visas.

Most mainstream media outlets follow Associated Press style, I pointed out then. And while "illegals" isn't deemed appropriate in the AP Stylebook, "illegal immigrant" is.

Last week, Marisa Treviño of Latina Lista took the next step: questioning the AP's judgment on its style, and that of outlets that go along with it. After being offended by the use of "illegal immigrant" used to describe CSU Fresno's accomplished student body president in a headline when his status was disclosed recently, she posted last Thursday:

...the AP, always looked upon as the guardian and ultimate authority on newspaper writing style, refuses to acknowledge that maybe a group other than itself can deem a particular term inappropriate for news usage -- especially a group that is offended by that term.

It wouldn't be so bad if only the AP used the term but because many in the industry follow its lead like sheep in a pack, they also use the term when referring to undocumented immigrants. In speaking with a few editors at different newspapers about their usage of the term, they have replied that they use it because it is "sanctioned" by the AP.

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In the news this morning: Immigration policy reversals, DREAM Act update, Steve Li's release, Latinos and Alzheimer's, more

Reversals by immigration officials are sowing mistrust - The Washington Post Advocates on both the right and the left say that shifting positions by officials - such as a reversal on whether jurisdictions could opt out of one enforcement program - have created a climate of mistrust.

Steve 'Shing Ma' Li freed as Feinstein intervenes - San Francisco Chronicle On Friday, immigration officials announced plans to release Li from a detention center in Arizona. The Chinese-American student was scheduled for deportation to Peru, where he was born while his family lived there temporarily.

California's US senators support DREAM Act - 89.3 KPCC When the Senate returns to Washington, D.C. after Thanksgiving, Democratic leaders promise to schedule a vote on the proposed legislation that would allow qualifying undocumented students and military hopefuls access to legal status.

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