How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Muslim, Jewish leaders join Archbishop on immigration reform

Interfaith Immigration

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Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, addresses parishioners at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Interfaith Immigration

Monica Valencia

Fr. Paul Velazquez blesses the Perez family, whose members spoke at the interfaith prayer service

For Catholic Angelenos, the setting for the prayer vigil was a familiar one — the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

But the man speaking from the pulpit was a new face. 

"When people ask me as a Jew, why I care about comprehensive immigration reform, I answer because it is in our Jewish DNA," said Rabbi Mark Diamond.

Diamond, regional director of the American Jewish Committee, was invited by Archbishop Jose Gomez to help lead a Friday morning interfaith prayer vigil for immigration reform, along with Christian and Muslim leaders.

Diamond noted that Passover, which starts this month, marked the Jews' exodus from Egypt, and served as a reminder that they have lived through the experience of being unwelcome in new lands.

"We must never, ever do that to others," Diamond said.


In immigration news: surge in Latino healthcare sign-ups, protection from deportation, bilingual classrooms

The 2010 Hunger Report

Bread for the World

A child attending a bilingual class at a Montessori school in Washington DC.

Immigration Policy Won't Make It Into the Defense Bill, for Now - National Journal  Some House Republicans led by California Rep. Jeff Denham came up with a plan to provide a path to resident status for young adults brought to the country illegally as children - if they join the US military. But the proposal appears to be dead for now because of opposition from some conservatives who say that no immigrants should be given preferential treatment. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala. argued that the plan, which would have been included in a defense bill, "ensures illegal aliens will be put on the same footing with American citizens who are competing for enlistment privileges in our national defense." 

Federal budget proposes decrease in immigrant detention beds - Southern California Public Radio Congress will decide whether to reduce the number of immigrant detention beds as a way to cut costs in the federal budget. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement rents about 34,000 beds on a daily basis from both private contractors and local governments. Activists are hopeful the government will reduce the number of beds rented. Setting a quota of beds creates the impression "you have to find people to deport, people to fill these beds, whether or not there is a need," according to Silky Shah of the Detention Watch Network.
IMMIGRATION: Protesters take aim at deportations - The Press Enterprise As part of a series of demonstrations around the country, more than 75 people rallied outside the San Bernardino office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The group demanded a stop to deportations, and accused the office of San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon for violating the TRUST Act, which limits who law enforcement can hold for deportation on behalf of federal immigration agents.  About 20 counter-protesters were also at the rally brandishing signs that said “no amnesty."


Federal budget proposes decrease in immigrant detention beds

Orange County Sheriff's Department

A visiting booth at the Theo Lacy Facility jail in Orange County, Calif. where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees are housed in space that the federal government contracts from the county.

Walking into the Theo Lacy Facility jail in the city of Orange is more or less like walking into any other county jail: Inmates in their uniforms, deputies patrolling the premises, a mess hall, an exercise yard. But one group of inmates here is different.

"These are our two detainee pods, sectors one and two," said Orange County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Mike McHenry, during a recent tour of the jail. "You'll notice that the detainees are in a lime green jumpsuit, which is distinctly different than all out other colors."

The men in lime green that Orange County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Mike McHenry is referring to are immigrant detainees, people in various stages of the deportation process who are in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In recent years, Congress has funded a set number of immigrant detention beds -- currently 34,000 on a daily basis around the country. As Congress gets ready to debate the federal budget, one thing that will come up is a proposed reduction in funding for these beds, which the agency rents from a mix of private contractors and local governments.
Orange County began renting vacant jail cells to ICE in 2010 in hopes of easing the county's  budget shortfall. Today the county is paid $118 dollars per person, per day, to house up to 838 ICE detainees in two county jails.
Assistant Orange County Sheriff Steve Kea said taking in detainees helps the county pay its overall jail costs.
“Putting the ICE detainees in those vacant areas allows for them to pay for part of our staffing – cooks, security staff and other things along those lines," Kea said. "So that is where we are saving money, not so much generating revenue.”
The $25 to $30 million dollars the county gets from ICE each year also covers jail system expenses like food, mattresses, utilities and other costs.
In fiscal year 2014, ICE held a daily average of more than 31,000 detainees in a patchwork of facilities around the country. At an average rate of $119 dollars per bed, detaining these immigrants costs the government – and taxpayers - millions a day.


LA city council calls for granting Filipinos protection from deportation

Philippines Typhoon 100 Days

Bullit Marquez/AP

In February, typhoon survivors were still living in temporary shelters they built around cargo ships that were washed inland by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban city in central Philippines

Los Angeles has joined the roster of major cities calling on the US government to grant Filipino immigrants protection from deportation in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

The LA City Council voted Tuesday night for a resolution that urges the Department of Homeland Security to designate the Philippines for Temporary Protected Status, which allows immigrants to live and work in the US for a finite period of time.

An estimated 280,000 Filipinos in the U.S. who don't have legal status stand to benefit from TPS.

Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell authored the resolution, at the encouragement of the Pilipino Workers Center which is based in his district.

O'Farrell said in a statement, “It would be irresponsible to deport those Philippine nationals back to their native country which has limited resources after Super Typhoon Haiyan delivered such a devastating blow."


In immigration news: U-Visas and domestic violence, tech industry lobbied on comprehensive reform

Immigration High Tech

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is asking the high-tech industry to support comprehensive reform, not just legislation that would increase the number of visas for high-tech workers.

Activists set out for immigrant detention center in Arizona - Fox News Latino Calling for a stop to deportations, activists have begun a march that will end April 5 at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. The group left from Phoenix and includes Guatemalan immigrant Anselma Lopez who says her son has been held at at the detention center for two years. Activists have been ramping up pressure on Washington, and hoping that President Obama will change his deportation policy.

Committee Votes Down Immigration Reform as Budget Booster - NBC News Democrats on the House Budget Committee forced Republicans to go on record as to where they stand on immigration reform. They did this by forcing a roll call vote on an amendment to include money for an immigration overhaul in a budget bill. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif, had offered the amendment knowing that it would likely fail as it did on party lines.