How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

An interactive map of Latino voters

Screen shot of interactive map showing percentage of Latino registered voters (Source: Pew Hispanic Center)

The Pew Hispanic Center has released a new interactive map of the Latino electorate, illustrating the percentage of eligible Latino voters by state.

Moving the cursor over each state brings up details, including how many Latino voters there are and what percentage of the overall electorate they make up. California ranks first, with close to 5.4 million eligible Latino voters based on the available data, which was taken from the 2008 American Community Survey.

The center recently released the results of a survey on Latino voter attitudes, which showed strong support for Democratic candidates but weak voter motivation.

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In the news this morning: The PA hate crime conviction, the EPA and communities of color, a birthright citizenship bill, more

Soul-searching in Shenandoah - Opinion - The Times-Tribune On the conviction last week of two young Pennsylvania men for the hate-crime beating death of undocumented immigrant Luis Ramirez in 2008.

Smuggler who used Lynwood 'drop house' can get 10 years - Long Beach Press-Telegram When a search warrant was served on the Lynwood house, 37 undocumented immigrants were found inside.

EPA's "environmental justice" tour comes to California - Los Angeles Times New EPA chief Lisa Jackson: “Too often it's the poor and minority communities who have little voice in environmental decisions, but live in the shadow of the worst pollution."

Disney should lead the way on acceptance of Muslim clothing and customs - Los Angeles Times An interesting take on Disney and the two female Muslim employees who have pressed the company on their right to wear hijab at work.

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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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