How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The road to U.S. citizenship, on today's Patt Morrison show

Photo by US Army Korea-IMCOM/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A cake at a U.S. military naturalization ceremony in Korea, December 2008

This afternoon's Patt Morrison show on 89.3 KPCC will be examining the process of becoming a U.S. citizen: how long it takes, how expensive it is, and what it takes for immigrants to navigate a complicated legal system.

The show airs from 1 to 3 p.m. At 2 p.m. an immigration expert will be in the studio to answer questions about how to surmount barriers to naturalization. If you’re going through the naturalization process, or if you recently obtained citizenship, KPCC would like hear your questions and experiences.

Share your story here on the Multi-American blog, or privately at

(In 2008, a record 1,046,539 people took the citizenship oath. The number of new citizens for every year since 1907 can be found in the Department of Homeland Security's 2009 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.)


Quote of the moment (circa 1751): A Founding Father on immigration

"Why should Pennsylvania ... become a Colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us, instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion?"

-- Benjamin Franklin, Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc., 1751

In keeping with the anti-immigrant screed news today, this quote that has long been attributed to Benjamin Franklin (as part of a longer anti-German screed) dates to a period when immigrants from central Europe were discriminated against and racialized. Discrimination against German immigrants was still strong a hundred years after the date attached to Franklin's statement; in 1851, Germans immigrants renting a cricket ground near Hoboken, New York were attacked by a nativist gang


Gunman's rant referred to 'immigration pollution'

Photo by TK/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Police outside hostage standoff at Discovery Channel headquarters in Maryland today

So while I was driving this afternoon, I missed the start of biggest national crime story so far today, an armed hostage crisis at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland that ended with the gunman killed during a stand-off with police.

What does this have to do with immigration? Well, as it turns out, deceased gunman James J. Lee, 43, took issue with immigrants, among other things. Various blogs and news outlets have been linking to the list of eleven demands that Lee had put up online with the heading, "The Discovery Channel MUST broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet and to do the following IMMEDIATELY."

Among them:

"5. Immigration: Programs must be developed to find solutions to stopping ALL immigration pollution and the anchor baby filth that follows that." The rant gets uglier from there.


Another report: New immigrants do, in fact, assimilate

Photo by Samantha Decker/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A girl waves the flag at a naturalization ceremony, July 2010

I promise that I won't post any more reports after this, but one released today by the Center for American Progress is pretty interesting. It's a report on immigrant assimilation that points to key benchmarks being met by relatively new immigrants. From the executive summary:

Integration is occurring fastest in the areas of citizenship and homeownership, with high school completion and earnings also rising. The share of foreign- born men earning above low-income levels in our country, for example, rose to 66 percent in 2008, the last year for which complete data is available, from just 35 percent in 1990 when the immigrants were recently arrived.

And Latino immigrants in the first 18 years of U.S. residency swiftly attained the hallmark of the “American Dream“—homeownership, with 58 percent achieving this feat in 2008, up from only 9.3 percent in 1990. This is a substantial leap. While lower than the 66.6 percent homeownership rate for non-Hispanic native born men, the homeownership levels for Latinos and other foreign-born immigrants rises as their time in the United States lengthens.