How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'Are you part of the shadow economy?'


Photo by Nathan Gibbs/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Unauthorized workers are often on the payroll, but cash fuels the underground economy.

An interesting business story in the Arizona Republic poses this question, with a link to an online mini-poll that asks: "Have you, as an adult, participated in the 'shadow economy' by receiving payment in cash for your work, and not reporting it?

It's a good question, as is the flip side, which wasn't asked: Have you, as en employer, paid cash for the services of your gardener, housekeeper, handyman or other worker? As the Republic story reads, "Arizonans often pay cash to handymen, painters, landscapers, babysitters and other odd-jobs workers, who may or may not be legal residents."

It works both ways, and everyone has a hand. And not just in Arizona. There will be more to come on the role of employers in illegal immigration as this blog develops.?


Patt Morrison explores 'food deserts' in South L.A
Navigating LA's Food Deserts: Airs 7/26 @ 1 PM from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.
The lack of healthy food options in low-income communities, where cheap fast food is often more easily found than fresh produce, has been blamed for a variety of public health problems, including a higher prevalence of diabetes among racial and ethnic minorities. Earlier this month, KPCC's Patt Morrison hosted a special event at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena, a combined farmers' market and town hall discussion on the scarcity of healthy food available to residents of South Los Angeles. An edited broadcast, Navigating LA's Food Deserts, airs Monday at 1 p.m. on 89.3 KPCC.


Border series explores economic and other facets of illegal immigration


Photo by Andrew Hecht/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Farm workers near the Central California coast.

In light of the revitalized debate over illegal immigration in recent months, colleagues at San Diego's public radio and television outlet KPBS have put together a terrific series tackling various components of the illegal immigration story.

This past week, Crossing the Line: Border Stories featured radio and television reports examining the economic costs vs. benefits of illegal immigration, one of the most hotly debated issues surrounding the topic; a radio interview with a one-time undocumented immigrant from Oaxaca, now working on an irrigation project for his hometown in the hope that it will create jobs and entice people to stay put; another radio report on how some kids' lives have unraveled after their parents were deported. Earlier this month, there was a report on demographic shifts that stand to affect immigration from Mexico. Transcripts and clips are online.


While eyes are on Phoenix, a grim story unfolds to the south

Border fence at Imperial Sand Dunes, California

Photo by Eric White/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A stretch of border fence through the desert, Imperial Sand Dunes, California.

As the news media prepares to focus on Phoenix next week, when the state's controversial SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law is set to take effect, a grim aspect of the illegal immigration story is unfolding to the south.

Several Arizona media outlets reported last week that by mid-July, the bodies of 40 illegal border crossers had been brought to the office of the Pima County Medical Examiner in Tucson, so many that some of the bodies had to be stored in a refrigerated truck for lack of space. Officials there said that if the trend continues, the deaths could top the single-month record of 68 in July 2005, the highest number since the medical examiner's office began tracking them in 2000.