How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Must-see photo slideshow gives haunting glimpse of a darker side of Ellis Island

Photo by Vilseskogen/Flickr (Creative Commons)

An interior shot, by a different photographer, of an abandoned medical building on Ellis Island, June 2008

There is the most gorgeous photo slide show on the NPR website today of the abandoned hospital buildings of Ellis Island, the work of photographer Stephen Wilkes. From NPR:
Wilkes' photo project, Ellis Island: Ghosts Of Freedom, shows the somber side of immigration — the side you don't see while on island tours. For many, the dream of a better life terminated in Ellis Island hospitals, where they were detained at any sign of disease. In one of Wilkes' images, the Statue of Liberty is reflected in a mirror. "I suddenly imagined a petite Eastern European woman rising out of her bed every morning," he writes in the caption."Seeing the reflection would be the closest she'd ever come to freedom."

The hospitals were closed in 1954 and basically left untouched, except by the elements of nature, and unseen, until Wilkes came along. Empty rooms, peeling paint, a lonely shoe left on a table — this deterioration is what Wilkes finds beautiful. His meditative studies of light and composition guide the viewer through Ellis Island's dark side, oddly illuminated by an afternoon glow.


In the news this morning

It's day two of my experiment with the new link roundup tool. Still tweaking it (so please pardon the difference in font sizes, etc.), but it seems to be working well enough. Without further ado, here are some of the top immigration and related stories today.

Many Say Coverage of the Poor and Minorities Is Too Negative - Pew Research Center (

The Associated Press: 'Dangerous drugs' tops criminal deportations list (

Immigration law efforts expanding - The Hill's Pundits Blog (The Hill)E

Mosque Near Ground Zero Stirs Mixed Feelings for Local Muslims - (The New York Times)

Behind the Numbers - Obama is a Muslim - 18%, 24% or ? (

The Associated Press: Kenya says Obama aunt was not in danger (

Arizona Sheriff's Tough Tactics on Immigration Face Federal Scrutiny - Newsweek (Newsweek)


L.A. Latino International Film Festival starts


Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival

A still from the documentary "Immigrant Nation! The Battle for the Dream"

The 14th annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival kicked off last night in Los Angeles at Mann’s Chinese in Hollywood. And now that the red carpet has been walked and the luminaries have made their appearances, it’s time for the rest of us to dig into some terrific offerings as the festival begins in earnest today.

There are a number of films this year that deal with immigration and related themes, something to be expected, but not always as one might expect.

The more straightforward among them are “Immigrant Nation! The Battle for the Dream,” a documentary involving the activist deportee Elvira Arellano, who took shelter in a Chicago church for several months between 2006 and 2007 and was eventually returned to Mexico – taking along her U.S.-born son – after immigration authorities caught up with her in L.A. Another film, “Harvest of Loneliness,” documents the Bracero program that brought million of Mexican workers to the U.S. between the early 1940s and early 1960s, foreshadowing the back-and-forth over guest workers in recent years and the immigration debate in general.


The DREAM Act and the military


Photo by Herald Post/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A Hispanic heritage celebration at a military installation in Heidelberg, Germany, October 2009

A post on the LA Eastside blog this afternoon regarding a town hall meeting on DREAM Act, scheduled to place tonight in Echo Park, is worth highlighting in that it brings up an aspect of the bill which garners relatively little attention: That college wouldn't be the only way for undocumented youths to earn legal status under the proposed legislation. They could also earn legal status by joining the military, and this worries some folks, among them people of color who don't want to see their community's kids - already targeted by military recruiters - now marching off to combat for fear of otherwise being deported.

I reported on this issue during a previous incarnation of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, otherwise known as the DREAM Act. Now, as pro-DREAM Act student activism has reached new heights, and the Obama administration has quietly spared some young people from deportation who would be affected by the bill if it were to pass, the "backdoor draft" concern is again bubbling to the surface. Supporters of the DREAM Act, meanwhile, argue that the good outweighs the bad, and that no one would be forced to enlist.