How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Coachella Valley High settles on new 'Mighty Arabs' mascot

Coachella Valley Mascot

The new face of the 'Mighty Arabs' (l.) replaces the retired 'Arab' mascot that triggered complaints by Arab-Americans.

Coachella Valley mascot

Coachella Valley High School

A physical education uniform available for $15 through Coachella Valley High School's web store shows "The Arab" mascot, which has become the center of a controversy over demeaning stereotypes.


Yager 91/Flickr Creative Commons

An image of the Coachella Valley Arab mascot.


Michele Sabatier/Flickr Creative Commons

A view of Coachella Valley High School in Thermal. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee say the image of the Arab mascot on a carpet with a woman is an example of "gross stereotyping."

Out with the sneering, hook-nosed 'Arab' mascot of old.

In with the new face of the "Mighty Arabs" — an ethnically ambiguous-looking man sporting a manicured beard and a kaffiyeh, the traditional Arab headscarf.

"The new mascot is a distinguished-looking Arab gentleman in historical dress," Superintendent Darryl Adams Coachella of the Valley Unified School District told KPCC. "It's a stoic figure but a very classy figure. It symbolizes pride and leadership for the football team, or just the school in general." 

The district's Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved the new mascot and name in a 5-0 vote.

The decision comes nearly a year after the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee protested the mascot in a Nov. 2013 letter, bringing national attention to an area best known for date farming and hosting the Coachella music festival.


Reports of anti-South Asian bias, violence higher in California

sikh temple

Courtesy SALDEF

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department is looking for whoever vandalized a Sikh temple in Riverside with the word 'terrorist.'

California trails only New York when it comes to the number of suspected hate crimes against South Asians, Muslims and Arabs, according to a new report from a civil rights group.

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) has tallied 76 reports of violence and harassment against members of these communities between 2011 and April 2014.

Thirteen of those reported incidents occurred in California — a surprise to executive director Suman Raghunathan given the state’s diverse make-up which includes one of the largest South Asian populations in the country.

She was also taken aback that some of the incidents took place in “long-standing South Asian communities such as Ontario, Fresno, Stockton, Hayward.”

They ranged from beating deaths to verbal threats and graffiti.

“It instills a profound sense of fear, lack of security and instability,” Raghunathan said.


In immigration news: Reform on backburner, Latinos sour on Obama, midterm elections

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (center) speaks to members of the media Saturday, alongside Sens. Mark Udall (left) and Michael Bennet, after touring flood-damaged areas by army helicopter.

Brennan Linsley/AP

Sens. Mark Udall (left) and Michael Bennet (right) are less likely than other Democratic candidates to benefit from Obama's decision to postpone executive action. Here they're pictured with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (center).

Immigration reform just went from extremely unlikely to impossible - Washington Post A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows 27 percent of Americans strongly oppose "a new path to citizenship for illegal immigrants" — topping the 21 percent who "strongly support" such a path. This is close to the reverse of survey results taken in April 2013. What's changed? From the story: "...the recent controversy over the southern border and Obama's delayed executive action appear to have only made real reform less possible."

NBC/WSJ/Telemundo Poll: Latino Voters More Sour On Country, Obama - NBC News  Pollsters for NBC/WSJ also found that a growing number of Latino voters "think the country is headed in the wrong direction" and are growing disillusioned with Obama — 47 percent approve of his performance, compared to 62 percent in April 2013. Latinos remain the only group in which a majority "favor legislation or executive action to change the current laws and policies."


In immigration news: Fewer migrant deaths, backlash over executive action delay, sanctuary churches, more

Andres Rafael Luevano/New America Media

A grave marker for an unidentified migrant. Fewer migrant deaths are being reported north of the U.S.-Mexico border this year, with the number of people known to have died crossing into the U.S. down significantly from a year ago.

Migrant Deaths Decline Along Border - Wall Street Journal Fewer migrant deaths are being reported north of the U.S.-Mexico border, "even as the number of people attempting to sneak into the country has risen amid a surge of Central American migrants." According to the U.S. Border Patrol,  284 people are known to have died crossing the border between last October through August; there were 420 deaths during the same period the previous year.

President Obama’s halt on immigration reform spurs backlash - Southern California Public Radio President Obama's decision to hold off on taking promised action on immigration until after the November elections "comes as a blow for many immigration reform advocates. His executive action is expected to prevent up to 11 million people from being deported."


In immigration news: Executive action delay, fewer Central American migrants, Oregon driver's licenses, more

Immigration Worker March - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

An immigration reform supporter rallies in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Aug. 27. White House officials announced over the weekend that President Obama will delay taking executive action on immigration until after the midterms, a move that's prompted an angry reaction from immigrant advocates.

Obama Delays Immigration Action, Yielding to Democratic Concerns - New York Times White House officials announced over the weekend that President Obama will delay executive action on immigration, something Obama had at first indicated could happen by the end of the summer. Any action will be delayed now until after the midterm elections, with Obama "bowing to pressure from fellow Democrats who feared that acting now could doom his party’s chances this fall."

Exclusive: Obama Blames Immigration Delay on Political 'Shift' - NBC News In an interview with Meet the Press, President Obama defended his decision to hold off on executive action, tying it to the political climate after a summer during which large numbers of unaccompanied child and teen migrants arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. From the story: “The truth of the matter is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem,” Obama said in the interview.