How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A Muslim NYC firefighter on the events of 9/11

This moving short video is part of a series of PSAs released at the beginning of this month by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Islamic civil rights group. The series of three videos is titled "9/11 Happened to All of Us." Two feature first responders, including the firefighter, and a third spot features a several religious leaders from different faiths. The video above was featured today in a post in ColorLines.

The PSAs were released in response to what news reports and polls have indicated is a growing sense of Islamophobia in the United States. The past several weeks have been marked by the highly-publicized public debate and protests over the construction of a planned Islamic cultural center near the site of the former World Trade Center (which, according to today's New York Times, had a Muslim prayer room), and the media circus in Florida over a pastor's now-cancelled plan to burn copies of the Quran.


Longest waits for immigrant visas: September

Source: Visa Bulletin for September 2010, U.S. Department of State

Nations with current longest waits for family-sponsored based immigrant visas: The priority dates shown are when applicants now up for processing filed their petitions.

Every month, Multi-American is posting the longest current waits as listed in the U.S. State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin.

For countries with the highest demand for family reunification, especially Mexico and the Philippines, there is a very long line to enter the country legally as an adult child or sibling of a U.S. citizen or legal resident, or as the spouse of a legal resident.

This is because every nation is allotted the same percentage from a pool of family and employer-based visas available each year, regardless of the demand or volume of petitions filed from from any individual nation. Immigrants defined as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, i.e. spouses, parents, and children under 21, are exempt from the limits.

But for the rest, the wait to come to the United States legally can take decades.


Immigrant poet captures 'The Art of Exile'
89.3 KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez recently interviewed Los Angeles writer William Archila about his new book of poetry, "The Art of Exile." Archila arrived from El Salvador with his family in 1980 after fleeing the country's brutal civil war. From the interview:

"I think what affected me the most was seeing my own school mates dead on the street or my own teammates from a soccer team dead the next morning or neighbors that you had built a relationship for years then one day, just like that, gone," Archila said.

Since he left El Salvador, Archila’s felt like a stranger in a strange land. That’s why he titled his book “The Art of Exile.”

"When I came to this country I think I, I just found myself, going numb, I remember shutting myself down a lot and just going through the motions, ‘this is what I have to do,” I have to learn this language, I have to learn this culture, I have to succeed, I have to go on and continue, what we have here is better than what we have there," he said.


The two big updates of the afternoon

Two updates to stories I've been linking to for the past few days, one national and one local, are making the rounds this afternoon.

The national story: The pastor of the Florida church that wanted to burn copies of the Quran on September 11 has called off the holy-book bonfire. In an interview earlier today with ABC's "Good Morning America," President Obama said that he hoped the Rev. Terry Jones of Florida would listen to "those better angels" and reconsider.

The local story: A witness who says she saw the fatal shooting of day laborer Manuel Jamines by police in Westlake on Sunday said today at a press conference that Jamines was not armed with a knife, as alleged, when he was shot. The shooting of the 37-year-old Guatemalan immigrant has sparked days of protests (which an immigration-restriction group is calling the "LA Machete Riots," after the totally unrelated film). Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has reported that the officer who pulled the trigger had been involved in previous shootings.