How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Monterey Park: In a majority Asian city, a Latina wins a council seat

Photo by debbychen/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A Monterey Park mini-mall, January 2007

Monterey Park did not become the first city in the continental United States to have an all-Asian city council yesterday, as some had anticipated, but it did get an all-minority council that's representative of the majority-minority city's ethnic makeup.

Five of the eight candidates vying yesterday for the city's three open council seats were Asian American. Among the seats open was one vacated by Benjamin "Frank" Venti, the sole non-Asian city council member. After yesterday's votes were counted, Latina newcomer Teresa Real Sebastian - whose campaign website proffered greetings in multiple languages - joined incumbents Mitchell Ing and Anthony Wong as one of the three winners.

From an Eastern Group Publications story today:

Ing said his win gives him the “assurance that voters like my approach.”

Sebastian’s win was a “pleasant surprise,” he said. Chinese newspaper reporters who attended his victory party left early thinking the new council would consist of all Asian American members  because of earlier numbers, he said.

Ing thinks Sebastian would be a good representative for non-Asian residents in the city, adding that part of her appeal was the she was the only woman running in these elections.


American Muslims: Understanding a little-understood minority

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Source: Pew Research Center

Tomorrow's Congressional hearing on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism is likely to be remembered as a key moment defining racial and ethnic relations in the United States in the post-9/11 era. New York's Rep. Peter King, the Republican chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has defended the hearing as "absolutely essential;" American Muslims, along with other immigrant groups and civil rights advocates, have condemned it as government-sanctioned xenophobia.

At the heart of the conversation are American Muslims, perhaps the nation's least-understood minority. Here are a few details about a segment of the U.S. population that numbers more than 2 million:

A Pew Research Center study from 2007 identified American Muslims as "mostly middle class and mainstream." While predominantly immigrants, the study found them to be generally more integrated into American society and culture and more affluent than their immigrant counterparts in Europe.


In the news this morning: CA Census shows Latino children a majority, a Secure Communities analysis, Sikhs being targeted, more

More than half of California children Latino, census shows - The Washington Post 2010 Census numbers released yesterday for California show that barely one in four of state residents under age 18 are non-Hispanic whites, whose numbers declined along with those of black children, as the number of Asian American and Latino children soared.

California census: Political power to shift from coast to interior with growth of minority population - Los Angeles Times The census results, which will dictate legislative redistricting, indicate a shift of political power away from strongholds like Los Angeles and San Francisco to the Inland Empire and Central Valley. Minorities could also see increased opportunities for representation.

Federal immigration program mainly nets low-level criminals, analysis says - Arizona Republic Arizona's Maricopa County leads the nation in the number of immigrants arrested and the number deported, but an analysis shows that the majority, 66 percent, caught in the county and deported through the federal Secure Communities program have either no criminal record or are low-level criminals.


Californians becoming more Latino, more Asian, more mixed

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The state bear flag flies in Merced County, November 2009

The California results from the 2010 Census reveal a state that is becoming increasingly Latino, Asian, and to a smaller degree, more multiracial.

The California results showing racial, ethnic, housing and other data were released this afternoon. While the state's population growth overall was modest - up only 10 percent since 2000 - its Latino population has grown 27.8 percent, with Latinos now making up 37.6 percent of the state's residents. California's Asian population grew even more dramatically, up 30.9 percent since 2000, though Asians make up only 12.8 percent of the state's population.

The state's native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population remains small, but is up by more than 23 percent from a decade ago. And the percentage of Californians who identified as a combination of two or more races, while only about 5 percent of the population, grew by 12.9 percent.


Dispatch from Monterey Park: An all-Asian city council?

Photo by debbychen/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A Monterey Park mini-mall, January 2007

A story I linked to in an earlier post today is worth highlighting because, depending on today's municipal voting results, a city in the San Gabriel Valley could make some history.

The Alhambra Source, a local news website, published a story today about how five of the eight candidates competing for Monterey Park's open council seats are Asian American. It's possible that Monterey Park could become the first city with an all-Asian city council in the continental United States. From the piece:

If three of them win the at-large election, Monterey Park, recognized as the first American suburban Chinatown, would make history once again. Even if they do not — with some strong Hispanic candidates also vying for the open seats — the city offers a glimpse at transitions in ethnic politics from a city that has been a leading edge in Asian American civic participation.

In the 1980s Monterey Park became home to the first predominantly Asian population on the mainland United States and was the first to elect a Chinese mayor. But it took more than a decade for the City Council to resemble the demographics of the city of 60,000. Now, another decade later, Asian Americans dominate the council with a presence greater than their actual numbers.