How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Wanted: National Latino leader

Illustration by Jared Rodriguez, Truthout.org/Flickr (Creative Commons)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Do Latinos lack national leadership? Yes, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report released yesterday. In terms of an identifiable national "leader" for the nation's vast and disparate Latino population, there isn't one.

When asked to name the person they considered "the most important Latino leader in the country today," nearly two-thirds of the 1,375 respondents in a national survey of Latino adults conducted by Pew said they did not know. An additional 10 percent answered "no one."

From the report:

The most frequently named individual was Sonia Sotomayor, appointed last year to the U.S. Supreme Court. Some 7% of respondents said she is the most important Latino leader in the country. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) of Chicago is next at 5%. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa draws 3%, and Jorge Ramos, an anchor on Noticiero Univision, the national evening news program on the Spanish-language television network Univision, drew 2%.

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In the news this morning: Steve Li case still pending, taunting a religious minority in Oklahoma, DREAM Act discussed, more

Illegal Immigrants Can Get Reduced Tuition, California Court Rules - New York Times More on the California Supreme Court's ruling yesterday upholding an in-state tuition policy for state residents regardless of immigration status.

College Trustee Appeals to Peru for Steve Li - The Bay Citizen The Chinese-language World Journal has reported that a San Francisco Community College District trustee is trying to convince Peruvian consular officials to reject the deportation of the Chinese-American, Peruvian-born student to Peru.

Baiting a faith in Oklahoma - The Washington Post On the victory of State Question 755, the Oklahoma "pre-emptive strike" initiative banning Islamic law in state courts: "This is a novel use of American law - not to actually address a public problem but to taunt a religious minority."

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Quote of the moment: On the need for Asian voices in the immigration debate

"It is really frustrating to be mostly left out of the conversation. Mostly it's because the Asian-American vote is missing — the media do not sample the Asian vote to tell what we're really voting on."

- Karen Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, D.C., quoted in an opinion piece in the Seattle Times


Syndicated columnist Esther Cepeda's piece from yesterday has hit a nerve, making the rounds extensively on Twitter today. The column begins: "If I were a member of the third-largest minority group in the United States, I'd be really frustrated that the immigration issue continues to be discussed almost exclusively with Latin Americans in mind."

Too true, for a number of reasons. Narasaki, whose civil rights organization advocates for Asian and Pacific Islander immigrant communities, estimates that the Asian vote represents only about 5 percent of eligible voters, while Latino voters represent about 9 percent. Both political parties have failed to invest in Asian voters and don't understand them very well, Narasaki said.

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Heated reaction to news of court ruling upholding in-state tuition for undocumented students

Photo by CSU Stanislaus Photo/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Students at a commencement ceremony, May 2008

The California Supreme Court today issued a unanimous ruling that allows undocumented students to continue receiving in-state tuition at California colleges and universities, reversing a lower appeals court's decision. The ruling affirmed that the policy did not conflict with a federal ban on giving undocumented immigrants educational benefits based on residency.

Known as AB 540, the California policy allows for in-state tuition, as opposed to costlier out-of-state tuition, for undocumented students who graduate from and attend California high schools for at least three years. Several other states have similar policies, giving today's decision some weight beyond the state.

The challenge to AB 540 began with a lawsuit that sought to invalidate the California policy, upheld in the lower court. And in the hours since the state Supreme Court ruling was announced, the reaction to the news has been heated.

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A last-minute reprieve for student Steve Li

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A photo of Steve Li, from a Facebook page set up by friends

San Francisco college student Steve Li will not be boarding a plane for Peru today as planned, his deportation stalled following a last-minute reprieve.

Late yesterday afternoon, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that while the 20-year-old Chinese-American nursing student remains in custody at an immigrant detention center in Arizona, his Monday deportation to Peru was put off. Li's attorney Sin Yen Ling told the Chronicle that an immigration officer advised her of the change, but did not provide her with details as to why or what happens next.

From the story:

"Why? I don't know," said Ling, whose client is at a detention center in Florence, Ariz. "In terms of when he's going to be put on a plane, I don't know that either. They wouldn't provide me with additional information but I do think it has a lot to do with the advocacy work that's been happening."

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