How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Quote of the moment: On the need for Asian voices in the immigration debate

"It is really frustrating to be mostly left out of the conversation. Mostly it's because the Asian-American vote is missing — the media do not sample the Asian vote to tell what we're really voting on."

- Karen Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, D.C., quoted in an opinion piece in the Seattle Times

Syndicated columnist Esther Cepeda's piece from yesterday has hit a nerve, making the rounds extensively on Twitter today. The column begins: "If I were a member of the third-largest minority group in the United States, I'd be really frustrated that the immigration issue continues to be discussed almost exclusively with Latin Americans in mind."

Too true, for a number of reasons. Narasaki, whose civil rights organization advocates for Asian and Pacific Islander immigrant communities, estimates that the Asian vote represents only about 5 percent of eligible voters, while Latino voters represent about 9 percent. Both political parties have failed to invest in Asian voters and don't understand them very well, Narasaki said.


Heated reaction to news of court ruling upholding in-state tuition for undocumented students

Photo by CSU Stanislaus Photo/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Students at a commencement ceremony, May 2008

The California Supreme Court today issued a unanimous ruling that allows undocumented students to continue receiving in-state tuition at California colleges and universities, reversing a lower appeals court's decision. The ruling affirmed that the policy did not conflict with a federal ban on giving undocumented immigrants educational benefits based on residency.

Known as AB 540, the California policy allows for in-state tuition, as opposed to costlier out-of-state tuition, for undocumented students who graduate from and attend California high schools for at least three years. Several other states have similar policies, giving today's decision some weight beyond the state.

The challenge to AB 540 began with a lawsuit that sought to invalidate the California policy, upheld in the lower court. And in the hours since the state Supreme Court ruling was announced, the reaction to the news has been heated.


A last-minute reprieve for student Steve Li


A photo of Steve Li, from a Facebook page set up by friends

San Francisco college student Steve Li will not be boarding a plane for Peru today as planned, his deportation stalled following a last-minute reprieve.

Late yesterday afternoon, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that while the 20-year-old Chinese-American nursing student remains in custody at an immigrant detention center in Arizona, his Monday deportation to Peru was put off. Li's attorney Sin Yen Ling told the Chronicle that an immigration officer advised her of the change, but did not provide her with details as to why or what happens next.

From the story:

"Why? I don't know," said Ling, whose client is at a detention center in Florence, Ariz. "In terms of when he's going to be put on a plane, I don't know that either. They wouldn't provide me with additional information but I do think it has a lot to do with the advocacy work that's been happening."


In the news this morning: DREAM Act vote promised, student facing deportation stays, Islam used as political cultural wedge, more

Senate Vote on DREAM Act, Immigration in Lame-Duck Congress? - ABC News Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised a vote this year on the proposed legislation that would allow undocumented students and military hopefuls to obtain legal status, though prospects of it passing appear slim.

Feinstein seeks to block Steve Li's deportation - San Francisco Chronicle The deportation of a Chinese-American student to Peru, where he was born, has been put on hold following the senator's intervention.

Stigma haunts mentally ill Latinos - CNN Cultural and socioeconomic factors have long gotten in the way of seeking professional help for individuals suffering from depression and other mental illness.

Immigration Reform Outlook in New Congress: Bleak - Capitol News Connection After the midterm election's GOP victories, there appears to be little likelihood of Congress passing broad, comprehensive immigration reform.


Tamales mania in El Sereno

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Tamal vendors in action at the L.A. Tamale Throwdown, November 12, 2010

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Tamal vendors in action at the L.A. Tamale Throwdown, November 12, 2010

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Tamal vendors in action at the L.A. Tamale Throwdown, November 12, 2010

Tamales! What can be better this time of year? I ventured over to the L.A. Tamale Throwdown in El Sereno after it kicked off this afternoon to take a few photos and, well, eat tamales.

Like most other people who make tamales for the holidays, I make them once a year - just once, because it's hard work - and am usually sick of them by the day after Christmas. But it's been almost a year, as I'm sure it has for many tamalistas, so now is the time to start indulging again.

The event itself was a hoot: vendor stands selling tamales, aguas frescas, pupusas and other staples, great music, artesanias, and a trophy-laden table of lucky judges onstage, eating steaming plates submitted by the city's tamal purveyors. (Don't know what the grand prize is, but I'll bet it's not a year's supply of masa.) Best thing is that it runs through 10 p.m. Saturday.