How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

In the news this morning: Undocumented with a law degree, green light for a disputed mosque, honoring a Boyle Heights culinary hero, more

Undocumented UCLA law grad is in a legal bind - Los Angeles Times In May, Luis Perez became the first undocumented immigrant to graduate from the UCLA School of law. But because he has been here illegally since age 8, he may not be able to practice, even if he passes the bar.

Planners recommend building mosque - The Desert Sun City planners in Temecula are recommending the construction of a much-disputed, proposed 25,000-square-foot Islamic center.

Many in LA's Koreatown decry island attack - The Washington Post Reaction from the city's Korean-American community over the North Korean shelling of South Korea's tiny Yeonpyeong island, near the two nations' disputed maritime border.

Study: Latinas Are Economic Engine of Arizona - New America Media According to a study by the state's Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Latinos represent more than 30 percent of Arizona’s population and bring more than $31 billion to the state’s economy. Latinas spend big on fresh food and other items.


A Thanksgiving retweet

Photo by Lane & Anne/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The table is set, November 2007

RT @NeffStarr Turkey with my white family @1pm Then my mexican family @6pm

I caught a retweet of this little gem from someone in Houston yesterday. I liked it because it captures, in less than 140 characters, the transitioning between cultures that is also a big part of Thanksgiving Day for many in Southern California, where families are of mixed ethnicity, mixed race and mixed status.

For recent immigrants who celebrate it, the holiday is part of their adaptation to a new culture. For those who have been here a long time and have raised children here, it is a tradition that captures a cross-generational blend of voices, attitudes and languages at the table.

And for those of us raised here, the second and third generations (and the 1.5s like me), it's a day of transitioning between the old and the new, the families that raised us and the families we have perhaps married into, which, in this part of the country, might be from a different culture altogether.


Remembering those who put food our our tables, and those who can't afford it for their own

Photo by Donna Sutton/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Agricultural workers in a field near the California coast, August 2007

A couple of reports released in the past week are good food for thought as many of us head home early tonight to start Thanksgiving preparations.

One gives us a reason to consider ourselves lucky if we're in a position to indulge at the holiday table; the other, a sense of understanding of the difficulties faced by the people who grow and prepare our food, in particular the female workers who make up a large segment of the food industry.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that around 15% of U.S. households, 17.4 million altogether, didn't have enough money for food at some point last year. Of those, 6.8 million households had chronic financial problems that forced them to miss meals on a regular basis. Minorities, along with single parents, were among those who had it worst. From the report:


California, meet Arizona: A proposed SB 1070-style ballot initiative moves forward

Photo by Patrick Dockens/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Last month, I posted a brief list of similarities between Arizona's SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law and a proposed ballot initiative in California that aims to put a closely related law on this state's books.

At the end of September, Tea Party activist Michael Erickson filed a proposal for the "Support Federal Immigration Law Act" with the state attorney general's office in Sacramento. Yesterday, the California secretary of state authorized a signature drive for the initiative.

Erickson, a Bay Area activist who describes himself as a business consultant, drafted the proposed initiative with help from attorneys and worked with veterans of the Proposition 187 campaign, though he did not want to disclose names of individuals or groups he worked with when we spoke.

Like the Arizona law, the California initiative would empower local law enforcement to check the legal status of anyone they suspect could be in the country illegally. However, while the initiative is patterned after SB 1070, Erickson said precautions were taken to avoid some of the rough spots that led to parts of the Arizona law being blocked by a federal judge last July, leading to a pending appeal from the state in federal court. Among the provisions similar to those of SB 1070:


In the news this morning: DREAM Act update, an AZ-style initiative moves forward in CA, more

Congress eyes DREAM Act: Fair to illegal immigrants or back-door amnesty? - Christian Science Monitor Back-and-forth from both parties as vote nears on legislation that could provide path to legal status for undocumented college students and military hopefuls. A vote could take place next week.

Push in Iowa and California For Arizona-Style Immigration Laws - Fox News Latino Ballot initiatives are moving forward on both states on measures that would allow local authorities to check immigration status.

USCIS - USCIS Introduces First-Ever Fee Waiver Form - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has introduced a standardized form for requesting waivers of the fees charged for immigration-benefit processing.

Gold Strike in East L.A.! - LA Beez A year into the Metro Gold Line's extension through Boyle Heights and East L.A., the line has been embraced by locals, who use it regularly.