How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Immigration and nativism, in historical context

Photo by beestar/Flickr (Creative Commons)

An 1893 editorial cartoon by Joseph Keppler from Puck magazine with the caption, "They would close to the new-comer the bridge that carried them and their fathers over."

Author Peter Schrag has an interesting piece published today in the Immigration Policy Center's "Perspectives" series, narratives written by academics and researchers on the topic of immigration.

The essay is taken from Schrag's book, "Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America."It puts the current immigration debate into historical context, taking a look at anti-immigrant sentiment, rhetoric and politics from the time of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to the post-/911 era. From the article:

American nativism and our historic ambivalence about immigration—at times vigorously seeking newcomers from abroad, at other times shutting them out and/or deporting them—is deeply entangled both in economic cycles and in the uncertainties of our vision of ourselves as a nation. A self?proclaimed “city upon a hill,” a shining model to the world, requires a certain kind of people. But what kind? Do they have to be pure Anglo?Saxons, whatever that was, which is what many reformers at the turn of the last century believed, or could it include “inferior” Southern Italians, Greeks, Slavs, Jews, or Chinese of the 1800s, the “dirty Japs” of 1942, or the Central Americans of today? Can America take the poor, the “tempest?tost,” the “wretched refuse” “yearning to breathe free” and make them a vital part of that city? If we began in perfection, how could change ever be anything but for the worse?

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Back in the spotlight: The 14th Amendment

Photo by Victoria Bernal/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A baby at a May Day rally in downtown Los Angeles, May 1, 2010

The back-and-forth over the 14th Amendment has recently bubbled back to the top of the immigration-debate cauldron. Until now, the talk of eliminating the constitutional right to U.S. citizenship for all those born in this country or naturalized had stayed in the realm of talk, more or less. Now, legislative efforts to either repeal birthright citizenship outright or force a federal court review are apparently gaining steam.

From a story in Sunday's Arizona Republic:

There are two emerging tracks to challenging the longstanding tenet that almost any baby born on U.S. soil is an automatic citizen. One is a traditional constitutional amendment asserting that one or both parents must be U.S. citizens or at least lawful permanent residents for a baby to qualify for citizenship. The other would be to pass federal or state legislation that could provoke a court battle over the amendment's citizenship clause.

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For the late-morning second cup: Croatian mariachi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG69jcIUqrY&feature=player_embedded

While checking the Twitter feed after a morning meeting, I came across this, courtesy of @ThinkMexican: a video of Los Caballeros de Croatia, who bill themselves as the "first Croatian mariachi band."

Here is their version of "Cucurrucucu Paloma." Sure, the accent could be ever so slightly better, but altogether, it's not bad.

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Five great reads this week, in case you missed them

A few stories and essays stood out this week, providing insight on recent news events, such as the tragic migrant slayings near the Texas border in Mexico, or shedding light on the little-known, as did a standout NPR piece on a new book that analyzes the onetime iconic film character Charlie Chan through the lens of the cultural and racial politics of his era. If you haven't read these yet, enjoy.

Investigating The Real Detective Charlie Chan : NPR (NPR)

Hector Tobar: Immigrant slayings in Mexico: Where's the outrage? - latimes.com (Los Angeles Times)

Why Something So Trivial Can Be So Dangerous - National - The Atlantic (The Atlantic)

Essayist: Before Burning Quran, Know What's In It : NPR (NPR)

People-Smuggling: No safe passage (The Economist)

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