How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Quote of the moment: An aspiring soldier without papers

"A Navy recruiter came to my high school, and I told him about my status. I told him that I was his next Navy SEAL (the best of the best). He chuckled, and I did, too. I told him I didn't have a Social Security number and asked if that would be a problem. He answered yes."

- Jose Patino, Phoenix

From a letter published over the weekend in the Arizona Republic from Patino, who wrote about how he first began dreaming of joining the military after watching his action heroes on film as a young boy. The recruiter told him that joining "would be a problem," he wrote.


DREAM Act campaign heats up before vote tomorrow

Photo by DreamActivist/Flickr (Creative Commons)

DREAM Act supporters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, March 2009

With a day to go before a Senate vote on the DREAM Act, proposed legislation that would allow a path to legal status for undocumented youths who go to college or join the military, student groups and other supporters are pulling out all the stops in their campaign to secure votes.

Makeshift phone banks have been set up all over the country, including one at the UCLA Labor Center in Westlake and another at Cal State Northridge, from where students and supporters are calling legislators. Political and school leaders in Los Angeles plan a press conference this afternoon in support of the measure, and rallies, vigils and campus activities are being planned for throughout the week.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, one of several local groups promoting the legislation, said the measure must first clear an initial vote tomorrow, with two subsequent votes that would then take place in the coming weeks.


DREAM Act 101: The basics of the bill

Photo by DreamActivist/Flickr (Creative Commons)

DREAM Act supporters outside L.A. City Hall, June 2009

Since Tuesday, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that he would attach the DREAM Act to a defense bill and move it toward a vote next week, the proposed legislation has been perhaps the biggest story involving the children of immigrants - in particular, young 1.5 generation immigrants here illegally after having arrived with their families as minors, many as young children. It is estimated that as many as 65,000 undocumented youths graduate from high school in this country each year, according to a fact sheet put out last year by the National Immigration Law Center.

So just what is the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, and what is its intended efect?

The proposed legislation itself is not new. Several bipartisan versions have been introduced in Congress since 2001, always falling short of the requisite support to move forward. It was last voted on in 2007. The current version of the bill was introduced in March of last year.


'Liberty for All' online comic strip makes rounds as DREAM Act moves toward vote

Art courtesy of Julio Salgado

Libertad, the heroine of Julio Salgado's "Liberty for All" comic strip

An online comic strip about an undocumented college graduate named Libertad, nicknamed Liberty, has achieved unexpected notoriety in recent weeks, with art from the comic circulated on Facebook and on fliers distributed by supporters of the DREAM Act.

"Liberty for All" follows the story of Liberty, a young woman who arrived with her family illegally as a child, has finished college, but can't get a regular job because of her status. She finds herself working for her aunt doing housekeeping, a maid with a college degree.

The strip is the work of Julio Salgado, a Cal State Long Beach student who himself is undocumented, here since he was 11. It has been making the rounds online after debuting six weeks ago on Facebook, with regular installments posted on Salgado's Notas From the Beach blog. Until last year Salgado drew cartoons for the campus newspaper the Daily 49er, including another comic strip.