How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A sneak peek at one 'Corrido of L.A.' entry

Art by Gajin Fujita, courtesy of LACMA

In late September, I wrote about an unusual songwriting contest for the "The Corrido of L.A."

The contest, put together by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the University of Southern California, encouraged 7th through 12th-grade students from throughout the city to write and submit songs in the traditional Mexican narrative ballad style that best captured the essence of Los Angeles, in any language. Contest judges would include the band Ozomatli, which was to perform the top ten entries in a concert this month.

The deadline for submissions was in mid-November, and since then, KCET's website has provided a sneak peek at one of the songs submitted. The station's Departures hyper-local project recently posted audio and video from a group of students at the Los Angeles Leadership Academy who, calling themselves Los Geekz, have produced a haunting, stylized rap about urban life in "the sickest part of Cali," as they put it. The group calls the piece "Change is Coming," and while it sounds nothing like traditional corrido, no matter.


Bloggingheads debate takes on DREAM Act

Over the weekend posted an interesting back-and-forth on the DREAM Act between Josh Bernstein, immigration policy director for the Service Employees International Union, which supports the bill, and Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C. organization that advocates immigration restrictions.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would provide conditional legal status for undocumented young people who attend college or join the military. To qualify, they must have arrived in the United States before age 16 and be of "good moral character," among other things.

In the split-screen debate, the pair discusses the rationale for the proposed age limit (Krikorian would like to see it lowered), whether or not legalizing young people brought here illegally as minors encourages further illegal immigration, and what the bill's chances are of passing during the lame-duck session.


Blogger El Random Hero and Superman: Something in common?

Photo by Gareth Simpson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Clark Kent's secret identity, January 2007

Zócalo Public Square has posted a bittersweetly humorous essay by L.A. blogger El Random Hero, aka Erick Huerta, who also happens to be undocumented.

Huerta, a 26-year-old journalism student, describes his trip here as he recalls it: "Once, when I was seven, I fell asleep in Michoacan and woke in Boyle Heights. No joke."

I'd never thought of Clark Kent in this way, but Huerta draws the following parallel as he writes about juggling multiple identities of his own:

I guess I should be inspired by Superman, arguably the most accomplished of all “illegal aliens.” Literally, in his case, as he came from another planet as an infant because his parents wanted to give him a better life when his home world was annihilated. He landed on earth and was raised in the Midwest by a loving couple to become a symbol for truth, justice and the American way.

Last time I checked, he was still working at the Daily Planet, getting by under the name of “Clark Kent.” I hope that the e-verify system doesn’t catch up with him someday; where would ICE deport him?


In the news this morning: DREAM Act updates, GOP in CA split on proposed immigration law, behind the record deportations, more

Immigration vote set for this week - Scott Wong - Politico Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to file a cloture motion on the DREAM ACT Monday night, setting up a Wednesday vote.

Short goodnight expected for the DREAM Act during lame duck- The Hill But the legislation, which would provide a path to legal status for undocumented youths who attend college or join the military, faces a great deal of opposition in the lame-duck session.

California Republicans are split on possible anti-illegal immigration measure - Los Angeles Times A proposed ballot initiative that would give California a law similar to Arizona's SB 1070 is dividing Republicans who fear further alienating Latino voters.

Unusual methods helped ICE break deportation record, e-mails and interviews show - The Washington Post Some background on the methods used by Obama administration immigration officials to deport more people than ever before.


Tamales, champurrado, a cold December night

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Cold revelers, hot tamales. December 3, 2010

Tonight I braved the southbound I-5 to make it to a favorite annual holiday event in San Diego, December Nights, which draws what seems like half the city to Balboa Park for two nights to eat, take in the lights, duck into the museums and listen to carolers. Mostly, though, to eat.

My favorite tamales cart was parked near the same spot where it was last year. There's nothing like an outdoor meal of steaming tamales and hot champurrado on a cold, damp night.