How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Honoring Jesse Valadez of 'Gypsy Rose,' legendary lowrider

Four years ago, Lowrider Magazine perhaps best captured the legacy of Jesse Valadez, a pioneer of lowrider culture and L.A. car culture in general who died at age 64 on Jan. 29, and was buried Saturday in Whittier.

In 2007 the magazine named Valadez, the owner of the iconic pink 1964 Impala known as "Gypsy Rose" (above, in action) as that year's recipient of its Lifetime Contributor award. From the piece:

Some of the greatest works of art haven't always been famous. Take for instance, Vincent Van Gogh, the now-famed artist who only sold one painting in his lifetime, but a century later, is recognized as one of the great artists in history. And just as Van Gogh became a well-respected pioneer of what we know as expressionism, our Lifetime Contributor Honor winner Jesse Valadez has that same influence and impact, except in the artistic discipline of lowriding.

Jesse's work has become internationally known, and his crowning achievements have pushed lowriding into a culture far beyond what anyone would have expected. And while it took decades to recognize Van Gogh's talents, it only took a few years for Jesse Valdez to be recognized for his.

Jesse's '64 Chevy Impala, "Gypsy Rose" is best known for its unique floral paint job and vibrant flow, and whether you saw it back in the day out on Whittier Blvd. or in the introduction of the '70s television show Chico And The Man, you know why people used to refer to it as "the world's most famous lowrider."

Gypsy Rose remains one of the lowrider world's most respected vehicles, and Jesse remains a true diplomat of lowriding and a respected veterano who always lends a helping hand. He's also an upholsterer, businessman and community activist, but more importantly, he's a lowrider who helped establish our culture as a force to reckon with.


As many Egyptian Angelenos rally for reforms, others are hesitant

Photo by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Ezabelle Attallah, a member of the mostly Egyptian-immigrant Holy Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in northeast Los Angeles.

For a second weekend in a row, Egyptian Americans in Los Angeles joined protesters in other U.S. cities to rally in solidarity with protesters in Egypt demanding that president Hosni Mubarak step down.

USC's Neon Tommy posted a slide show of photos from Saturday's rally outside the federal building in West Los Angeles, which drew hundreds. Another crowd gathered Sunday outside the Egyptian Consulate (video of the rally, above, via

Those attending the local rallies are calling for democratic reforms in Egypt and the end of three decades of rule by Mubarak, a close ally of the United States who in his country is considered a tyrant by many. But one group of Egyptian Coptic Christians in Los Angeles is saying not so fast, fearful that a sudden overturning of Mubarak's government might bring about changes that could put the country's Christian minority at risk.


In the news this morning: AZ border murder trial, (apologies to) Mexican Steelers fans, state birthright bill hearing, Egypt solidarity rall

Trial of immigration activist accused in killings spotlights tense climate along border - The Washington Post The attackers accused of killing 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father Raul in the rural Arizona border town of Arivaca were allegedly affiliated with an anti-illegal immigration militia group and were conducting raids to steal money.

Super Bowl: Why Mexico City is chock full of Pittsburgh Steelers fans - Christian Science Monitor In el D.F., the wildly popular team is referred to as “Los Acereros.” Lo sentimos, Acereros fans.

Undocumented worker who became quadriplegic is moved to Mexico against his will - Chicago Tribune Quelino Ojeda Jimenez had been working here illegally when he fell from a roof in a work accident and lost the ability to speak, breathe or move most parts of his body. Just before Christmas, he was flown to Oaxaca.


Five key things to know about the birthright citizenship debate

In recent months, the discussion over whether the United States should deny citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants has moved from the fringes of the immigration debate to center stage.

Emboldened by a recession-era political climate and the legislative victory of Arizona's stringent SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law, which has inspired multiple spinoffs even as parts of it remain hung up in court, federal and state conservative legislators have introduced a spate of proposals in the past month aimed at ending the longstanding U.S. policy of automatic citizenship at birth.

These measures seek to change how U.S. citizenship is defined under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, either by amendment or reinterpretation. Here is how Section 1 of the amendment reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


Many braceros still fighting for lost wages

KPCC's Brian Watt and Quyen Lovrich had a story last night about the continuing struggle of elderly ex-bracero guest workers trying to obtain lost compensation from the Mexican government.

Some 4.6 million Mexican workers were employed as agricultural guest workers in the United States between 1942 and 1964 through what was known as the Bracero Program.

A portion of the braceros' wages was set aside for them decades ago in savings accounts for when they returned home as part of a binational agreement. A 2001 class-action lawsuit to force the disbursement of these savings resulted in the court approval of a settlement in 2008. Some braceros have already been compensated, the organizers of a protest outside the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles said yesterday, but there are tens of thousands of former laborers who are still owed. From the story: