How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

In immigration news: No reform prospects, 'venue shopping' in immigration lawsuit, camera in border bathroom, more

Kitty Felde/KPCC

The 844-page comprehensive Senate immigration reform bill that was filed in April 2013, in a very different political climate. The idea of a broad, bipartisan approach to immigration reform has been set aside in Congress, at least for now.

Immigration reform looks dead in this Congress - Politico Some in Congress have talked of Senate GOP leaders bringing back the immigration reform issue, after the Department of Homeland Security was funded without limits on President Obama's immigration plan. But "few within the GOP expect any kind of immigration debate in the Senate in the foreseeable future. The issue has been relegated to the back burner as Republicans instead focus on the budget, trade deals and, possibly, tax reform."

California Border Patrol Supervisor Arrested Over Bathroom Camera - Reuters U.S. Border Patrol supervisor Armando Gonzalez, 46, is being held on charges that he hid a camera in the women's bathroom at the San Diego border patrol station. Gonzales had been under investigation since his arrest Jan. 9 by police. From the story: "San Diego police had responded to the border station after receiving a report that a camera had been discovered in the women's restroom, according to a police statement."


Why some immigrants with criminal convictions aren't deported

Charley Robinet [CROPPED]

Ventura County Sheriff's Office

A man now identified as Charly Leundeu Keunang was sentenced to 15 years in prison in connection with a bank robbery in Thousand Oaks in 2000.

Two years before he was shot by police on Skid Row, the man now identified as Cameroonian immigrant Charly Leundeu Keunang was released from prison and was up for deportation.

But unlike other immigrants convicted of violent offenses, Keunang was not deported, but rather remained in the United States. The reasons are complicated and unusual, but Keunang is not alone among convicted persons who face ouster but wind up staying for a variety of reasons.

Defense attorney Steve Cron remembers Keunang as the man he defended 15 years ago. He especially remembers the crime, a violent bank robbery in Thousand Oaks.
“It was a takeover robbery where guns were used, and there were three people involved, and there was a high speed chase," said Cron, who back then was appointed by the court to defend the suspect who went by the name Charley Saturmin Robinet and claimed to be a French citizen. "It just struck me that if ever there were a case where someone would get deported because of a felony conviction, this would be the type of crime that would lead to deportation.”
Cron was shocked to learn this week that his former client wound up on Skid Row after his release in 2013. Criminals convicted of violent offenses typically are deported once they serve their time. But there are exceptions.


So-called 'birthing houses' have become more commonplace in SoCal

Photo by johnwilliamsphd/Flickr (Creative Commons)

So-called "birthing houses" cater to foreign women who wish to have their babies in the United States so they'll have U.S. citizenship. In the San Gabriel Valley city of Arcadia, police say that about a dozen small-scale operations have been discovered in three years.

The so-called "birthing houses" that federal agents searched throughout Southern California yesterday are part of what some say is a growing phenomenon.

Authorities searched apartment complexes in Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties Tuesday, where suspected "maternity tourism" operators housed women from China who were intent on delivering their babies in the United States, for a hefty fee.

In the San Gabriel Valley, cops say these operations have become relatively commonplace.

"People within the city...will call and say they have been noticing a growing number of pregnant women walking around our neighborhood, and they seem to be coming and going out of this particular residence," said  Lt. Roy Nakamura with the Arcadia Police Department.

For about three years, the department has charged a detective with investigating these reports. Nakamura says that since then, cops in Arcadia alone have uncovered about a dozen small-scale operations in rental homes, housing five or six women, often Chinese nationals.


In immigration news: DHS gets funding, ICE had tried to deport man shot in Skid Row, executive action deportation fears, more

Skid Row protest

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

About 150 people protest fatal Skid Row LAPD shooting outside police headquarters Tuesday. The homeless man who was shot went by the name Charley Saturmin Robinet. But there are questions about his true identity, and questions about his nationality derailed efforts by U.S. officials to deport him in 2013.

House Votes To Fund DHS Until Sept. 30 — Without Immigration Curbs - NPR The House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that funds the Department of Homeland Security through the end of its fiscal year. The bill contained no restrictions related to immigration; earlier on, House Republicans tried to tie DHS funding to President Obama's executive immigration order in hopes of undoing it. Obama is expected to sign the legislation.

Skid Row police shooting update: ICE had ordered Robinet deported - Southern California Public Radio The homeless man killed in a recent altercation with police on Los Angeles' Skid Row went by the name Charley Saturmin Robinet. He had been convicted of bank robbery and was ordered deported in April 2013. But questions over his nationality presented problems. Plans were to deport him to France, where he claimed to be from; French officials discovered he was from Cameroon. U.S. officials said they tried to obtain travel documents from Cameroon but had no cooperation. He was released from ICE custody later that year.


In immigration news: DHS funding bill, ripple effect on local agencies, executive action and taxes, more

A cargo ship stands on Long Beach


A cargo ship at the Port of Long Beach. Ports rely on Department of Homeland Security grant funding to help pay for their own security operations. Congress has yet to agree on legislation that would fund the department beyond Friday. If there is a DHS shutdown, ports and other local agencies fear some of their grant money could be held up.

House to vote on bill to fully fund Homeland Security - Washington Post The House is prepared to vote Tuesday on a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security through the rest of the fiscal year, until the end of September. From the story: "The measure will not target President Obama's executive actions on immigration, giving Democrats what they have long demanded and potentially enraging conservatives bent on fighting the president on immigration." DHS funding has been hung up in this battle; its was set to run out after last Friday but was extended one week.

DHS funding crisis could have ripple effect on local ports - Southern California Public Radio Just as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach recover from months of slow operations after a labor dispute, the Homeland Security budget battle in Washington threatens possible funding snags. Port officials rely on federal grant money to help pay for their security operations. If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund DHS by the end of this week and the agency goes into partial shutdown, some grant money could be held up. Other local agencies could also be affected.