How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Christian church confused for mosque, draws opposition

Photo by Lotus_7/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The dome under construction at the La Luz Del Mundo church in Phoenix, October 2010

Oh, Arizona.

This latest story out of the Grand Canyon State involves not undocumented immigrants, but Christians erroneously believed to be Muslims.

KPHO, a Phoenix CBS affiliate, reports that "concerned neighbors" have been phoning leaders of the local La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World) church over a new church building under construction that has a large dome, and which the concerned townsfolk have mistaken for an Islamic mosque. Church members have been forced to put up a banner on the dome, pointing out that it is a Christian house of worship they are building.

The story is yet another example of raging anti-Muslim fervor, the craze that is sweeping the nation, from Temecula (where residents have protested the building of an actual mosque) to New York City (no need to explain) to Oklahoma, where voters overwhelmingly approved a state initiative banning Islamic law, though there is no known instance of it ever having been cited in Oklahoma courts.

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Wanted: National Latino leader

Illustration by Jared Rodriguez, Truthout.org/Flickr (Creative Commons)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Do Latinos lack national leadership? Yes, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report released yesterday. In terms of an identifiable national "leader" for the nation's vast and disparate Latino population, there isn't one.

When asked to name the person they considered "the most important Latino leader in the country today," nearly two-thirds of the 1,375 respondents in a national survey of Latino adults conducted by Pew said they did not know. An additional 10 percent answered "no one."

From the report:

The most frequently named individual was Sonia Sotomayor, appointed last year to the U.S. Supreme Court. Some 7% of respondents said she is the most important Latino leader in the country. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) of Chicago is next at 5%. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa draws 3%, and Jorge Ramos, an anchor on Noticiero Univision, the national evening news program on the Spanish-language television network Univision, drew 2%.

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In the news this morning: Steve Li case still pending, taunting a religious minority in Oklahoma, DREAM Act discussed, more

Illegal Immigrants Can Get Reduced Tuition, California Court Rules - New York Times More on the California Supreme Court's ruling yesterday upholding an in-state tuition policy for state residents regardless of immigration status.

College Trustee Appeals to Peru for Steve Li - The Bay Citizen The Chinese-language World Journal has reported that a San Francisco Community College District trustee is trying to convince Peruvian consular officials to reject the deportation of the Chinese-American, Peruvian-born student to Peru.

Baiting a faith in Oklahoma - The Washington Post On the victory of State Question 755, the Oklahoma "pre-emptive strike" initiative banning Islamic law in state courts: "This is a novel use of American law - not to actually address a public problem but to taunt a religious minority."

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Quote of the moment: On the need for Asian voices in the immigration debate

"It is really frustrating to be mostly left out of the conversation. Mostly it's because the Asian-American vote is missing — the media do not sample the Asian vote to tell what we're really voting on."

- Karen Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, D.C., quoted in an opinion piece in the Seattle Times


Syndicated columnist Esther Cepeda's piece from yesterday has hit a nerve, making the rounds extensively on Twitter today. The column begins: "If I were a member of the third-largest minority group in the United States, I'd be really frustrated that the immigration issue continues to be discussed almost exclusively with Latin Americans in mind."

Too true, for a number of reasons. Narasaki, whose civil rights organization advocates for Asian and Pacific Islander immigrant communities, estimates that the Asian vote represents only about 5 percent of eligible voters, while Latino voters represent about 9 percent. Both political parties have failed to invest in Asian voters and don't understand them very well, Narasaki said.

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