How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

American snapshot: Bell

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/Flickr (Creative Commons)

What a supermarket snack aisle looks like in a town that is more than 90 percent Latino, September 2010

And no, this photo has nothing to do with Bell's political corruption scandal, even if that's what I was writing about when I took it.

Just enjoy the chicharrones and Charritos.

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The conversation over 'illegals' and 'illegal' immigrants continues

Photo by stay sick/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Graffiti in Munich, Germany, Feb. 2008

The debate this week over using the term "illegals" to refer to immigrants who have entered the country or overstayed their visas illegally continues. And reading the comments beneath a series of posts on ColorLines, The American Prospect, The Washington Post and other sites has been fascinating, a bit like being a fly on the wall at a gathering where a heated debate is taking place among the guests.

Yesterday, I linked to a first-person essay by Rinku Sen, publisher of the online magazine ColorLines, titled “Why I Don’t Use the I-Word – in ANY Form.” ColorLines, which covers communities of color and often takes on the issue of race, has launched a campaign called “Drop the I-Word,” urging media outlets not to use the word “illegals” in reference to undocumented immigrants.

Over the years I've been witness to many a newsroom conversation over what to call people who are in the country illegally. There is illegal immigration, yes, but what to call the immigrants themselves? In general, mainstream media outlets tend to go with AP style, which is “illegal immigrants.” The terms “undocumented” and “unauthorized” are also used, if less commonly. Is "illegals" a term that is used disparagingly? Yes, but then what about "illegal immigrants?" An act can be illegal, but can a person be referred to as such? It's an old conversation, but one that is refreshing to see again as part of a nuanced public discussion.

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Ozomatli's get-out-the-vote single

L.A.'s Ozomatli has jumped into get-out-the-vote efforts with a new bilingual single titled "Respeto," Spanish for "respect," released yesterday as part of a joint project with the National Council of La Raza. The song is part of NCLR's campaign to draw out Latino voters for next month's midterm elections.

"Vota por la justicia (vote for justice," the refrain goes, "vote for respect."

In a news release, lead singer Raul Pacheco provided his take: "The simple act of voting has proven to be an important tool in the shaping of my surroundings," he said. “As a modern American Latino, it is a meaningful step to counter the specifically hateful and hurtful rhetoric that has been aimed at Latinos throughout this country.”

The single is downloadable for free on both the Ozomatli and NCLR websites.

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In the news this morning: Bilingualism and brain power, hate crime conviction in PA, Secure Communities and 287(g), more

Can bilingualism improve your brain's multitasking power? - Los Angeles Times Weighing the benefits of raising children bilingually from an early age.

2 found guilty of hate crimes related to death of immigrant - CNN.com The two young men on trial for the 2008 beating death of an undocumented Mexican immigrant in Pennsylvania have been found guilty on all counts.

ICE Forces Counties to Join Controversial Deportation Program - ColorLines Local jurisdictions that have tried to opt out of Secure Communities, a fingerprint sharing program, have learned that it's not optional.

Hispanics/Latinos at higher HIV risk than Whites - foodconsumer.org Estimates of HIV incidence for 2006 indicated that Latinos had a rate of 29.3 per 100,000 population, compared with 11.5 for whites.

Immigrants Sue Over Local Immigration Enforcement Program - The Washington Independent Three immigrants in Georgia have filed what could be the first legal challenge to the federal 287(g) program, which allows immigration officials to delegate some enforement roles to local law enforcement.

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Quote of the moment: ColorLines publisher on why she doesn't use the term 'illegals'

Photo by Steve Rhodes/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A sign that reads "No human is illegal," San Francisco, July 2008


"There’s no conflict between honest reporting and dropping the i-word. I use undocumented and unauthorized regularly, as this is a matter of permission represented by a piece of paper. I never obfuscate how a source came to be in the United States, whether they overstayed a visa or crossed a border."

- Rinku Sen, publisher of ColorLines


The publisher of the online magazine, which tackles the thorny issue of race in its coverage of communities of color, speaks out in a first-person essay titled "Why I Don't Use the I-Word - in ANY Form." ColorLines has launched a campaign called "Drop the I-Word," urging media outlets not to use the word "illegals" in reference to undocumented immigrants.

Sen's essay gets at a complicated conversation that has been held in many a newsroom over the years: There is illegal immigration, yes, but what to call the immigrants themselves? In general, mainstream media outlets tend to go with AP style, which is "illegal immigrants." The terms "undocumented" and "unauthorized" are also used, if less commonly.

Read More...