How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

In the news this morning

With Arizona and SB 1070 mostly off the radar for now, there's a little more variety this week in immigration-related news, and the debate over the 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship is at the top of the list.


  • Politico has several reports on the movement to revise the 14th Amendment as more GOP lawmakers join in. Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce, who introduced SB 1070, in quoted in one story as saying, "it doesn’t take a constitutional amendment. It just takes a clarification.” In another story, Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal finds himself getting dragged into the debate on account of his own background as the U.S.-born child of Indian parents.



  • On the good-news front, Latino and Asian L.A. County residents can make a toast to health and long life: The Los Angeles Times has a story on a new county health report's findings that despite high numbers of uninsured, fewer county residents are succumbing to chronic illnesses. Among ethnic groups, Asians had the lowest death rate. Latinos had a lower death rate than black and white residents. A "Latino paradox" - in which less smoking and healthier eating (for the first generation, at least) outweigh low income and lack of insurance - is cited as a possible explanation.

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Emotional rally ends DREAM Act hunger strike

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


Students who participated in DREAM Act hunger strike at closing rally in Westwood


A two-week hunger strike by supporters of the DREAM Act ended tonight in Westwood, where a crowd of more than 100 gathered outside the Los Angeles office of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Educators, clergy, parents, and classmates of the undergraduate and graduate college students who participated in the strike attended an emotional candlelight rally in which strikers and supporters shared their stories. One young man who assisted the strikers with security said he'd become involved in immigration-reform efforts after his parents were deported two years ago; a woman whose son participated in the strike cried when she spoke of another son who was deported.

Jeff Kim, an undocumented graduate student who arrived from South Korea when he was 10, was one of several hunger strikers who spoke.

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MALDEF staying neutral on Kagan confirmation

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Photo by Talk Radio News/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Elena Kagan at a Senate confirmation hearing

In an unusual move, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) has decided not to endorse the likely confirmation of Elena Kagan as Supreme Court Justice, opting to take a neutral position.

In a Huffington Post piece published this afternoon, MALDEF president and general counsel Thomas A. Saenz wrote: "The decision to take a neutral position on the confirmation was not easy, and several prominent members of MALDEF's board strongly advised support for Kagan's confirmation."

The modern confirmation process is partly to blame, as is scant record of the U.S. Solicitor General's views due to her work in government service and academia, Saenz wrote:

The outcome arises largely from the way the Supreme Court confirmation process has developed over the last quarter century. Simply put, that process no longer elicits much in the way of useful additional information about a nominee; instead it has devolved into a predictable battle of partisan sound-bites, many of them resting on half-truth and unsupported assumption.

Added to this un-illuminating process is a nominee whose admirable legal career is marked by government service, where a public lawyer's own views are generally not recorded or retained; and a tenure in academia, where, aside from scholarly production in a limited subject-matter arena, views and activities also are not recorded. All of this means that, through no particular fault of the candidate's own, the record lacks an indication that Kagan has an understanding and appreciation of some of the major legal issues of concern to many in the Latino community, such as immigration, language services, and the use of race-linked proxies for discrimination.

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Picketers target Meg Whitman's East L.A. campaign office

adolfopicket

Photo by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC


Picketers outside Meg Whitman's new East L.A. campaign office


A crowd mobilized by labor unions picketed the opening today of gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's East L.A. campaign office, chanting "Meg, you're fake!" and criticizing the Republican candidate's tough stance on illegal immigration, 89.3 KPCC reports. Whitman discussed her plans to create jobs and other campaign details during the opening event.

The former eBay CEO, who has been courting Latino voters, has faced criticism from Latino and union groups for simultaneously campaigning on an immigration platform that includes tighter border security, a ban on admissions of undocumented students to state colleges and universities, and a stated opposition to bilingual education.

A Whitman ad targeting Latino voters, via YouTube:

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DREAM Act hunger strikers decide to quit

The students who began a hunger strike two weeks ago today outside California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office in Westwood have announced plans to end their strike with a vigil there tonight.

In a statement, the group that organized the hunger strike said, "Californians have been calling Senator Feinstein's office every day, and over 300 people visited the hunger strikers to show their support. The immigrant rights community has shown incredible solidarity with DREAM youth and they are ready to take the next steps forward."

The strikers' stated goal had been to convince Feinstein, already a supporter of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, to champion the legislation as a separate bill and push it toward a vote. The DREAM Act would create a path to citizenship for qualifying 1.5 generation undocumented immigrants who were brought here as minors if they attend college or join the military.

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