How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

He's glad immigration agents didn't ask 'how to get to Sesame Street'

Photo by EvelynGiggles/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Poor Big Bird. You can't even get a birdseed milkshake without bumping into the underground economy.

I don't usually resort to Spanish in this blog, but I had to after reading this story. ¡Dios mío! Actor and playwright Carlo Alban has written a confessional essay that, um, redefines the concept of hiding in plain sight. One might call it hiding behind Big Bird's feathers.

In his essay for Fox News Latino, Alban writes that in 1993, when he was 14, he landed a role on Sesame Street that lasted five years. His character, also named Carlo, worked at Mr. Hooper’s store, where he whipped up a birdseed milkshake for Big Bird. Alban writes:

But the whole time, I had a secret: I was an undocumented immigrant. The papers I’d used to get hired were fake.

My family had come from Ecuador when I was seven and my older brother Angelo was nine. We came on a tourist visa, and the moment my parents had gotten it, we knew we were not coming back. They sold all our furniture before we left.

My mother had a sister living legally in the United States, and my parents planned to have her sponsor us for residency. Soon after landing in New York, my parents saw a lawyer. But we were told the process would take four or five years.


'Coming out' undocumented: A Dream Act strategy becomes a rite of passage

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Last week in Orange County, a line of about two dozen young people snaked around the side of a meeting hall. Mostly college students, they awaited their turn at the podium in the front of the room. Some looked confident, others a little shaky. A girl with long brown hair stepped up to the microphone. "Hello, my name is Estefania," she began, "and I'm undocumented and unafraid."

What started as a small number of students going public with their immigration status grew into a movement in its own right last year, when passage of the federal Dream Act seemed like a possibility. It was a political strategy, the idea behind it to put a face to those whose lives would be affected by the legislation, which would have granted conditional legal status to qualifying young people brought to this country before age 16 if they went to college or joined the military.


In the news this morning: Japanese American families hope for word of relatives, California Dream Act, Latinos and the census, more

Japanese Americans in LA try to make contact w/ victims - Some say they've had success reaching relatives via cell phone in the quake-ravaged area surrounding Sendai. But many said they've had no luck, and it's tough to stay optimistic.

Chancellor Block declares support as California DREAM act approaches legislative action - The Daily Bruin The UCLA chancellor is backing two state bills being heard today that would allow access to financial aid for undocumented college students.

Bill allowing some illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition passes Maryland Senate - The Washington Post A bill allowing some undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates in Maryland passed the state Senate Monday; it still requires House approval.

Kansas GOPer: Let's Shoot Illegal Immigrants Like Pigs - Talking Points Memo Kansas State Rep. Virgil Peck was quoted as saying this Monday: "It looks like to me if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem."


Quote of the moment: 'Solitary confinement at a high security prison' for ranting UCLA student

"In fact, I am so upset that I believe she should be punished by expulsion, public humiliation, and maybe even solitary confinement at a high security prison."

- Facebook user Steven Lu, from a comment posted on the UCLA chancellor's FB page today regarding a female student's anti-Asian rant on YouTube

The Facebook account of UCLA Chancellor Gene Block was flooded with comments today over a viral video that the university has condemned as "repugnant" - and which, frankly, I was reluctant to post at first.

UCLA has confirmed that the woman is Alexandra Wallace, a student at the university, the Daily Bruin reported today. Her rant, which seems almost too bizarre to take seriously, has been spoofed to hilarious effect by now, though the overwhelming reaction has been anger.

This afternoon, Block issued a public apology on behalf of the university, posted on his Facebook page. Still, the page continues to draw comments.


Five disaster zones to remember, along with Japan

Photo by U.S. Marine Corps/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Since Friday, international aid organizations have been focused on the unfolding disaster in Japan, where supplies are running short and the death toll continues to mount after last week's devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the deadly tsunami flooding that followed.

But there are other, deadlier crises these groups contend with that go largely ignored, Tom Paulson of Multi-American's sister blog Humanosphere in Seattle reported last week. Paulson spoke with representatives from the relief organizations World Vision and Mercy Corps who told him that while sudden disasters elicit an outpouring of public support and donations, it's more difficult to get the public to pay attention to chronic catastrophes that play out on a daily basis.

Some, like the aftermath of last year's disastrous quake in Haiti, continue to get some attention and receive support. Others have gone on so long they have become background noise.