How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

DREAM Act supporters are back at it after bill is reintroduced

Photo courtesy of Cyndi BePhoto courtesy of Cyndi Bendezu, UCLA Downtown Labor Center

DREAM Act supporters hang a banner over the 101 Freeway downtown before the Senate vote last Tuesday, September 21, 2010

After the failure last week of a Senate bill carrying the DREAM Act to gain sufficient votes for cloture, supporters of the long-running proposed legislation have been granted what they wished for, more or less: a stand-alone bill. And while it's unlikely that it will come up for a vote this legislative session, supporters are once again trying to rally legislative votes in case it does.

On Wednesday, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act, which had been attached to a defense authorization bill that came up for a vote last Tuesday, failing 56-43. The proposed legislation, versions of which have existed for almost a decade, would grant legal status to undocumented youths who arrived here at age 15 or younger if they attend college or join the military.


Disney employee allowed to wear hijab, may set precedent for others

Photo by TK/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Two women in hijab at a Southern California picnic, June 2008

A decision by Disney to allow a female Muslim intern to wear a traditional religious head scarf, or hijab, at work could set a precedent for other Disney employees who make an argument to wear the head scarves as part of their work uniform.

According to the greater Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Islamic civil liberties organization, the decision involved a young woman from the Chicago area who had interviewed by phone for an internship job as a Disney vacation planner in Anaheim.

In a press release today, CAIR-LA stated that when the unidentified intern arrived in California, she was informed by her new employer that she would have to take a different position with limited guest interaction, a stockroom job, while a customized uniform was created for her. The wait for a customized uniform was five months, according to CAIR-LA, the length of her internship.


Quote of the moment: Loretta Sanchez vs. "Los Vietnameses"

“Los Vietnameses y los Republicanos están con una intensidad de quitar este puesto, este puesto que ya nosotros hemos hecho tanto para nuestra comunidad, quitarnos este puesto y darselo a este Van Tran, que es muy anti-inmigrante y muy anti-Hispano.”

- Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez, 47th Congressional District, during an interview on Univision Sept. 12

Translation, from an excerpt in both languages of Sanchez' statement in the Orange County Register:

“The Vietnamese and the Republicans are, with an intensity, (trying) to take this seat – this seat (from which) we have done so much for our community – to take this seat and give it to this Van Tran, who is very anti-immigrant and very anti-Hispanic.”

Understandably, Orange County and beyond is abuzz with what has become the political gaffe of the moment. Sanchez's comment, circulated by political bloggers in recent days, is especially notable coming from a Latina whose landmark defeat of incumbent Rep. Bob Dornan in 1996, a Republican, symbolized the county's ethnic shift away from its past as a mostly white conservative stronghold.


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."