How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Mr. Colbert goes to Washington (and testifies on immigration)

Stephen Colbert took his "vast expertise," as he put it, gleaned from a day spent working alongside full-time farm workers picking beans and packing corn, to Capitol Hill this morning to testify on migrant farm labor before the House of Representatives.

The Comedy Central funnyman's speech was an interesting mix of in-character performance art, with Colbert in character as his grandstanding "Colbert Report" television pundit, and the occasional moment of sincerity, including one moment during which he seemed to choke up as he described the farm laborers' work as "really hard."

Of course, the in-character one-liners were great. One example:

"I don't want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan, and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian."


Quote of the moment: A blogger on the DREAM Act and outsourcing

"It doesn't make sense that in this country we have DREAM Act students now graduating from colleges, some with honors, who not only can't work but must sit on the sidelines and watch workers imported from other countries to do the work they can and should be doing."

- Marisa Treviño, publisher of Latina Lista

From a post today on the Latina Lista blog, titled "Without the DREAM Act, more U.S. jobs will be needlessly foreign outsourced." The post presented a seldom-explored take on the proposed legislation, which would have given a path to legal status to undocumented youths who attend college or join the military. It was derailed yesterday in the U.S. Senate after the defense bill it was attached to failed to win enough votes. Supporters are now pushing for a stand-alone bill.


In Bell, a recipe for exploitation?

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

On a window outside the entrance to City Hall in Bell, September 22, 2010

How much of a role did the city of Bell's ethnic and economic makeup have to do with the corruption scandal that landed eight city officials in jail yesterday? Plenty, if you ask those who live there.

Yesterday Bell's mayor, its former city manager, three council members and three other former city officials were arrested on corruption charges, and a newly released state audit begins to reveal just how much financial mismanagement took place, with exorbitant salaries for city officials and more than $50 million in bond money subjected to misuse.

Meanwhile, some of the discussion about the scandal has turned to Bell's population, as in how governing a majority Latino, working-class and politically disenfranchised community likely made it easier for Bell officials to operate with impunity.