How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Before Banksy, the running family was immigration icon and art

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

One of the original signs as seen on I-5 just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

One of the original signs as seen on I-5 just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

One of the original signs as seen on I-5 just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

One of the original signs as seen on I-5 just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006


If you don't live in California, you might not be familiar with the road sign that has become synonymous with illegal immigration and immigration in general, and that has spawned countless interpretations over the years. But you may have seen the image itself, or a version of it.

It's the black silhouette of a family of three set against a bright yellow background, the characters leaning forward as they run. There's a man, a woman and a little girl, her pigtails flying. Even without faces, the characters convey a sense of desperation.

The running family was a familiar sight to motorists driving between Los Angeles and San Diego for close to 20 years, emblazoned on signs along Interstate 5. Several of the signs went up in the San Diego area in the early 1990s as a warning to motorists at a time when smugglers were forcing their charges to run across the freeway to evade immigration authorities, often with tragic results.

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An exception for 'the help' in an anti-illegal immigration bill: good, bad, or ugly reality?

Photo by Bulent Yusef/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A detail from a mural in London, June 2006

An anti-illegal immigration bill introduced recently in Texas proposing tough state sanctions against employers who hire unauthorized workers makes an exception: It's okay to hire an undocumented maid, gardener, or other employee "for the purpose of obtaining labor or other work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence."

Since its introduction late last month, its sponsor state Rep. Debbie Riddle, who is known for having a particularly tough-on-immigration stance (and perhaps best for the term "terror babies"), has received a fair amount of criticism and perhaps an equal share of ridicule, while others have praised her for being realistic.

After all, as evidenced by the undocumented housekeeper scandal that helped derail the campaign of California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman last fall, few Americans are immune from the underground economy. The proposed Texas law threatens to punish employers with up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, so including those who hire domestic help as offenders could mean a lot of Texans in hot water, no doubt a few politicos among them.

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In the news this morning: The least Latino state, Dream Act protesters cleared, another record for immigration bills, CA Muslims targeted, m

What is the LEAST Latino State in the Union? - Fox News Latino The 2010 Census results may be showing large Latino population growth in many states, but in West Virginia, the sound of Spanish is still a rarity.

DREAM Act protesters: L.A. drops charges against Westwood protesters who supported DREAM Act - Los Angeles Times All criminal charges have been dropped against nine current and former students arrested last year at a rally for the Dream Act.

Immigration Debate: Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma Considering Similar Arizona Law - ABC News 2010 saw a record number of immigration-related laws, but 2011 is expected to surpass that.

Salavador Reza - Being Latino Online Magazine A short piece on Reza, the Arizona activist and Latino community organizer banned from the state Senate building recently by Senate president Russel Pearce.

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Census: Ten states with the biggest Latino population growth so far

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Screen shot of U.S. Census Bureau map showing state-by-state 2010 data, including ethnic populations


The results of the 2010 Census continue to roll out state by state, with California's due out next week. In the meantime, ethnic and racial data for half the states has been released by now, and the Latino population gains from 2000 to 2010 are impressive.

Of the states whose data has been released, Texas still has the biggest share of Latino residents, followed by Nevada, a new addition to the list. But the biggest percentage growth is still being seen in states that are non-traditional destinations for Latino immigrants and their descendants. States like Alabama, Arkansas and North Carolina among others have seen triple-digit growth in their Latino populations, though the total share of Latinos in these states remains small.

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20 years after the Rodney King beating: Different takes on what's changed, what hasn't

It's been 20 years today since the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers, an incident captured on grainy video by George Holliday, a resident of Lake View Terrace who heard the commotion and captured the beating from his balcony.

The videotape, and the riots that followed in late April after four white officers accused in the beating were acquitted, tore the lid off long-simmering racial and socioeconomic tensions in South Los Angeles and other working-class sections of the city. It also created a national conversation about the treatment of minority groups at the hands of authorities.

Just about every news outlet today has a take on the 20th anniversary of the beating, ranging from interviews with King, who suffered serious injuries and later sued, to explorations of how police conduct business in an era where cameras are omnipresent. A sampling:

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