How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Immigration politics: What to expect next

Photo by Eric White/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A stretch of border fence through the desert, Imperial Sand Dunes, California.

As the 111th U.S. Congress heads out the door without an immigration overhaul to its credit and a new Republican-led House takes over in January, what happens now?

In recent days, a series of requiems have emerged for the broad reforms that were promised by the Obama administration, as have predictions of two years of enforcement-based immigration measures.

Here are a few selections:

The Washington Post published an essay by University of Southern California journalism and public policy professor Roberto Suro, former director of the Pew Hispanic Center, titled "A lost decade for immigration reform." From the piece:

Like so much else about the past decade, things didn't go well. Immigration policy got kicked around a fair bit, but next to nothing got accomplished. Old laws and bureaucracies became increasingly dysfunctional. The public grew anxious. The debates turned repetitive, divisive and sterile.

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In the news this morning: More migrants kidnapped, a 2010 immigration timeline, tighter laws expected, paisa bars and more

El Salvador: 3 migrants abducted in Mexico, 5 flee - The Associated Press El Salvador's foreign ministry reports that nine migrants were kidnapped from a train in Mexico last week; five escaped, one died and three are missing.


What Happened in 2010: Immigration - WNYC A timeline of immigration-related milestones from last January to the present.


Rep. Peter King to Ramp Up Immigration Crackdown - Fox News Latino The New York congressman and soon-to-be chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee plans to push for tighter border security.


More States Seeking to Follow Arizona's Push for Tougher Immigration Rules - Bloomberg Dozens of state legislators around the country are drafting laws that empower police to check for immigration status, similar to Arizona's SB 1070.


U.S. must provide incapacitated immigrants with lawyers, judge rules - Los Angeles Times A U.S. district court judge has ruled that two mentally disabled immigrants from Southern California who are fighting deportation must be given lawyers.

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Top five immigration stories of 2010, #5: The Tamaulipas migrant massacre


Immigration has been one of the biggest topics in the news this year, pretty much as it has been nearly every year during the past decade. This year was of special interest, however, not only in terms of what happened (as in Arizona's partial enactment of its precedent-setting SB 1070), but also because of what didn't happen, as in the recent defeat of the Dream Act.

This week I'll be highlighting the top five immigration stories of 2010. This is only my list - everyone who is affected by or follows immigration issues will likely have his or her own list of the most important stories, as there are many of them. But here are the biggest stories as I've observed them this year, starting with this one:

#5: The Tamaulipas migrant massacre

Last week, when the Mexican government admitted that it was investigating the reported kidnapping of 50 Central American migrants earlier this month in the southern state of Chiapas, the news recalled a disturbing story from earlier this year: The tragic kidnapping and mass murder of 72 Central and South American migrants last August by drug cartel soldiers in the border state of Tamaulipas.

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More gratuitous lunchtime tamales

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Cuban-style tamales on Noche Buena, December 24, 2010

The holidays aren't over yet, right?

I'm close to hitting the wall, but not until I finish the leftover Cuban-style tamales that graced my parents' Noche Buena table the other night. These are sweet corn tamales with pork, mushy and slightly crumbly and very good, though not easy to make (to do it right, one has to grind the corn).

I usually make Mexican-style tamales, which can be whipped up from dry masa mix and still taste spectacular. But this year my mother sought out the work of a professional, i.e. a woman in Bell who makes Cuban tamales and sells them underground via one of the local carnicerias. So to the unnamed tamal lady, mil gracias. They were delicious. I only wish I'd had more room for them amid the lechón, yuca, black beans and rice.

For anyone who is feeling ambitious and has yet to completely burn out on tamales, here are a couple of Cuban tamal recipes. One calls for either fresh corn or frozen kernels and requires a food processor, unless grinding corn by hand is your thing. Another employs a shortcut mix of canned creamed corn and cornmeal. The latter trick is something my late grandfather adopted after grinding corn became too much of a chore, and the results weren't bad. Some people have been known to add a little boniato (sweet potato) to sweeten the masa, but the corn should do.

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Dissecting culture's role in decision-making

Photo by Anthony Albright/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Choosing among the dozens of brands in the bread, peanut butter and jam aisle, February 2010

On the heels of weeks of Christmas shopping in stores filled with far too many perplexing choices, New American Media published a great Q&A this weekend with Columbia University business professor Sheena Iyengar, author of the book "The Art of Choosing."

Iyengar, who was raised as a Sikh, spoke with Sandip Roy on the program New America Now. She discussed how one's cultural background plays a bigger than expected role in the way decisions are made. An excerpt from the interview:

It’s not just about how choice is regarded from culture to culture—does culture affect what we regard as choice in the first place?

Absolutely. I give you a set of 10 sodas. Do you see that as one choice or 10 choices? That varies tremendously as a function of your culture. Asians wouldn’t see that as a choice, because they are wondering what is the host expecting me to choose. Americans see that as 10 choices. Members of ex-communist countries see that as one choice: soda. They see the differences between the brands as utterly meaningless.

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