How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A fond farewell to a vestige of Latino Silver Lake

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Adios, Restaurante y Pupuseria - the empty storefront on February 13, 2011

I was driving through Silver Lake the other day when I saw something I'd expected to see eventually, but hoped I wouldn't: an empty storefront at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Hyperion Avenue where a tiny Salvadoran pupuseria had stood for years, tucked between an upscale gelateria and a dentist office.

It was a little closet of a place, marked only with an awning reading "Restaurante y Pupuseria," which in recent years had been updated from a lighter color to a hipper black, perhaps to blend in with the adjacent gelateria's dark color scheme. Its passing seems to have gone largely unnoticed. Searching for an obituary of some kind, I found only a mention in Urban Spoon, which posted a simple notice advising "Closed: Pupuseria." I called the dentist's office next door and they told me that it closed about a month ago, and that the space is being prepared for another restaurant. A German place, they thought.


In the news this morning: Iranian American reactions, the Lakers and Latinos, Oklahoma immigration bills echo Arizona's, more

Unrest in Iran: SoCal Iranian-Americans weigh in on protests - 89.3 KPCC Siamak Kalhor, the host of Radio Iran in Los Angeles, joined KPCC's Madeleine Brand show this morning.

Lakers, NBA are reaching out to fast-growing Latino market - Los Angeles Times The Lakers have inked a 20-year agreement with Time Warner Cable to create the first Spanish-language regional sports network in the country. The Lakers will be its centerpiece.

Convicted Minuteman Border Vigilante Maintains Innocence - Talking Points Memo An Arizona jury decided yesterday that Shawna Forde, convicted for the 2009 murder of a Latino father and his 9-year-old daughter, is eligible for the death penalty.

Feds Probe Mexico Shooting of U.S. Agents, Murder of Jaime Zapata - ABC News U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime J. Zapata, who was based in Laredo, Texas, was killed Tuesday in an apparent ambush.


A Presidential Medal of Freedom for Sylvia Mendez, the girl who made civil rights history

One of today's recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom was Sylvia Mendez, a woman who first stepped into the civil rights movement when she was a young schoolgirl in Orange County. Mendez, who lives in Fullerton, was the child behind the landmark 1945 case known as Mendez v. Westminster, which challenged school segregation in California.

The decision in 1947 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals signaled the end of school segregation in the state, setting a precedent for Brown v. Board of Education seven years later. A story in the Orange County Register described the conditions that prompted Mendez's parents to file suit:

Mendez was just 8 years old when her parents, Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez, sued Westminster School District for turning their children away from an all-white school.

The children were sent instead to the “Mexican” school, a two-room wooden shack with worn, wobbly desks and chairs, and tattered textbooks – hand-me-downs from other campuses.


No hearing on birthright citizenship bill, but some good reads anyway

Photo by johnwilliamsphd/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Plans for a hearing today on an Arizona senate bill whose proponents hope to deny birthright citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants were temporarily put off until next week, with legislators giving priority to a tax-cut bill.

Perhaps to coincide with the hearing that didn't take place, several news outlets today featured pieces on birthright citizenship and the 14th Amendment, which as now interpreted guarantees it as a constitutional right. Here are a few of today's related reads:

CNN had a couple of essays, one written by Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana who recently introduced a federal anti-birthright citizenship bill. He wrote:

I don't believe that the 14th Amendment to our Constitution grants birthright citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. In fact, all we have to do is use history as our guide. It reminds us that this amendment was specifically designed to address the horrible injustice of slavery -- not to grant citizenship to children of people living in our country illegally.


In the news this morning: Arizona hospital bill, Tunisian migrants, birthright bill hearing postponed, a conviction in border murders, more

Arizona bill brings hospitals into immigration fray - Politico The state bill would require hospitals to check on whether a patient is in the country illegally. It's the first of its kind on the country, and has drawn heavy criticism from doctors.

BBC News - Tunisia influx problem 'serious' for Europe says Italy - BBC The big immigration story in Europe right now comes after the fall of Tunisia's dictator, with thousands of migrants leaving the country on boats headed for Italy.

Birthright bills won’t be heard this week - Arizona Capitol Times A state  senate hearing on a bill proposing to deny birthright citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants has been tabled until next week as a tax-related bill takes top billing.

Vigilante Member Found Guilty of Murder in Arizona; Could Face Death Penalty - New America Media Jurors begin deliberation today on whether or not to impose the death penalty on Shawna Forde, the leader of a Minuteman splinter group. She was found guilty for the 2009 murders of a 9-year-old Latina girl and her father in a rural Arizona border town.