How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Audio from today's Patt Morrison show: The DREAM Act and student activism

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A sign outside a DREAM Act rally in Los Angeles last summer.

In recent weeks I've posted several stories and updates related to the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow a path to legal status for undocumented young people who attend college or enlist in the military. A House vote is expected soon, possibly later this week.

Part of the reason that the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which has been introduced and failed several times over the course of nearly a decade, is getting so much attention this time is because of unprecedented activism among the very undocumented students it would benefit.

During previous DREAM Act vote cycles, the bulk of these youths remained in the shadows. But since the bill was introduced again last year, a growing number of students who have been here illegally since they were children have been coming out publicly about their immigration status to make a statement in support of the bill, attaching their names and faces to it, and generating publicity. Some have risked arrest and deportation by participating in rallies and sit-ins; others have stuck their necks out as well-known student leaders.

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A DREAM Act vote is coming, but when?

Photo courtesy of Cyndi Bendezu

Student protesters at a DREAM Act "die-in" in downtown Los Angeles, November 17, 2010

Speculation that the U.S. House of Representatives might take up the DREAM Act early this week - even as early as today, as some outlets had reported - turned out to be a bit premature.

The earliest date now being discussed for a possible House vote on the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is this coming Thursday, said Frank Sharry, executive director of the Washington, D.C. immigration advocacy group America's Voice, which has been following the proposed legislation closely.

It's also likely that a House vote could take longer, Sharry said in a phone interview today. A blurb two weeks ago on CapitolWirePR cited New York Democratic Rep. Nydia Velasquez as saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had announced a tentative vote date of Nov. 29.

That date was a misquote, Sharry said. However, the hope of advocates is still that the House will vote on the measure first, he said, as this could help pave the way for success in the Senate. While there still no set date for a Senate vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to take up the measure in the lame duck session. The DREAM Act would provide access to legal status for qualifying young people who attend college or enlist in the military.

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Shots, anyone? Latino Dems ponder a Tequila Party

Photo by Sheep "R" Us/Flickr (Creative Commons)

All kinds of Cuervo, October 2008

Seriously.

Some disgruntled Latino political leaders are "quietly debating whether to sever their traditional Democratic ties and form an independent grass-roots political group," the Las Vegas Sun reports. Its proposed name: the Tequila Party.

From the story:

The idea, born of frustration over the party’s inaction on immigration reform and fears that as a voting bloc they’re a political afterthought, Latino leaders have discussed the idea among themselves locally and in conference calls with colleagues across the country.

The unlikely model for the movement they would like to launch is the Tea Party — not in substance, of course, but in its grass-roots organizational style. Acknowledging the source of their inspiration, Latino leaders have dubbed the proposed movement the “Tequila Party.”

These Hispanic leaders have noticed that while the Tea Party has had spotty electoral success, it has called attention to its concerns and values and put the establishment on notice.

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In the news this morning: What's in a name, the upcoming DREAM Act vote, an immigrant private eye, undocumented student leaders, more

Little Bangladesh must grow into its name - Los Angeles Times Most businesses in the tiny hard-won district, approved by city officials earlier this year, still cater to a mostly Latino or Korean immigrant clientele.

Vote on illegal-immigrant students bill possible this week - The Orange County Register A possible vote nears on the DREAM Act, proposed legislation that would provide a path to legal status for undocumented youths who go to college or join the military.

Eddie Zhao is on their side - Los Angeles Times Great piece on a Chinese immigrant turned private investigator in the San Gabriel Valley.

Embassy cable tells of elderly American's escape from Iran - The Guardian The harrowing story of a 75-year-old Iranian-American Los Angeles man's daring escape from Iran after being stuck there for months. The escape involved riding a horse over a frozen mountain range into Turkey.

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Got masa?

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Dry masa mix on the shelf in a Westlake grocery store, November 2010

Now that the turkey thing is behind us, it's officially tamales season, the time of year when bags of dry masa mix begin flying off grocery shelves. Ready for your tamaleadas?

I'm not, but I'll be hitting the grocery store this weekend for my Maseca and hojas.

See you back here Monday. In the meantime, I've tracked down a couple of good tamal-making videos, one for Mexican-style tamales (starring a hip hop-loving chef), and one for Central American-style tamales. No language comprehension necessary - the demonstrations are easy to follow.

A good holiday weekend to all.

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