How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Guelaguetza: The next generation

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Photo by Jeroen Elfferich/Flickr (Creative Commons)


Inside one of the Guelaguetza restaurants in Koreatown


The Los Angeles Times has a great story today on Bricia and Fernando Lopez, the scions of L.A.'s venerable Guelaguetza restaurant empire. The siblings, 25 and 23, have helped reinvigorate the 17-year-old family business started by their immigrant parents, a chain of restaurants whose name is synonymous with Oaxacan food in this town. Among other things, they've opened a Huntington Park eatery and a new juice bar on 8th Street, next to the original Guelaguetza restaurant.

It dawned on me while reading this article that Bricia and Fernando must be the reason why I'm now able to follow Guelaguetza on Twitter. From the story:

It helps that they are well connected — with bloggers, chefs, bartenders, other restaurateurs — mostly because they're just interested. "Food, drink, art, sports, these are the things that bring people together," Bricia says. And when she brings people together, she really brings people together. She bought a 150-inch TV screen for the huge Guelaguetza on Olympic Boulevard in Koreatown, and legions of soccer fans — including chef Ludovic Lefebvre and LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold — and six TV stations showed up for the World Cup games.

To think that their father — Fernando Lopez Mateos, who opened the first Guelaguetza in 1994 — had said airing the World Cup was a bad idea. "He didn't think anyone would come," Bricia says.

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Quote of the moment: A Latina blogger's take on "anchor babies"

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Photo by Victoria Bernal/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A baby at a May Day rally in downtown Los Angeles, May 1, 2010


From a powerful and angry post on VivirLatino that is making the re-tweet rounds, the opinion of blogger Maegan "la Mamita Mala" Ortiz on the 14th Amendment/birthright citizenship/"anchor babies" discussion:
"...our wombs are worded as weapons of mass destruction and our beautiful babies as objects stuck into the earth to keep us here...this comes down to where ethnicity and gender meet. That now Latina mujer = anchor baby factory."

Here is the entire post, published last week.

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In the news this morning

Buenos días. Here are some of the top immigration-related stories this morning, along with a couple of other good reads.


  • The Associated Press reports that $600 million border security bill, which had been temporarily put on hold due to a procedural glitch, is now is on its way to President Obama's desk after the Senate convened a special session.



  • In addition to spending on border security, the Obama administration also continues to deport record numbers of people, the Christian Science Monitor reports.



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Coming soon to Koreatown: Little Bangladesh

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


A stretch of 3rd Street within Koreatown, soon to be part of Little Bangladesh.


It's known now as a part of Koreatown, but a four-block stretch of West 3rd Street will soon be known officially as Little Bangladesh.

On Wednesday Afternoon, the Los Angeles City Council's Education and Neighborhoods Committee approved naming a strip along 3rd between New Hampshire and Alexandria avenues for the Bangladeshi immigrants who began settling in Koreatown about two decades ago.

The committee also approved formal boundaries for Koreatown, which will now consist of a roughly one-square-mile area bordered by Third Street to the north, Olympic Boulevard to the south, and Vermont and Western avenues to the east and west. Koreatown, whose community representatives had sought formal recognition for a much larger area, will also retain a commercial strip of Western Avenue from 3rd Street to Rosewood Avenue.

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Pew Hispanic Center report: Unauthorized Immigrants and Their U.S.-Born Children

In a newly-released report, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were born to undocumented parents.

From the report:

Unauthorized immigrants comprise slightly more than 4% of the adult population of the U.S., but because they are relatively young and have high birthrates, their children make up a much larger share of both the newborn population (8%) and the child population (7% of those younger than age 18) in this country.

The figures are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's March 2009 Current Population Survey. The report comes at a time when much political attention is being focused on the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, with some Republican leaders stating that they would like to revise the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution so as to not grant these children automatic U.S. citizenship, a constitutional right for people born in this country.

The complete report can be viewed here.

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