Leslie Berestein Rojas

Immigration and Emerging Communities Reporter

Contact Leslie Berestein Rojas

Southern California is home to many new immigrants -- about a third of L.A. County residents are foreign born. Immigrants are creating an evolving definition of "American." I will deepen the understanding of how immigrants are changing the region and how L.A. changes immigrants.

Stories by Leslie Berestein Rojas

La Luz del Mundo church leader charged with child rape

The leader of the Guadalajara, Mexico-based church La Luz del Mundo was facing arraignment Wednesday in Los Angeles on charges including rape and human trafficking.

Migrants released by feds at Southern California bus stations

Border Patrol officials confirmed that they’ve recently dropped migrants off at bus stations in Southern California. The agency said large numbers in Border Patrol custody have "placed us at the breaking point.”

LA day laborers recognized on first 'Dia del Jornalero'

Last month, the City Council declared May 3 "El Dia del Jornalero," the day of the day laborer. We talked to workers at a nonprofit day labor center near downtown.

Lawsuit seeks to stop transfer of immigrant detainees from OC jails

The ACLU is suing to stop immigration officials from transferring detained immigrants out of Orange County jails. The lawsuit follows an announcement in late March by the county, which said it will end its contract to house detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

LA street vendors can sell legally now, but costs are a worry

Some street vendors who cheered the City Council's move to legalize sidewalk sales back in November are now worried about whether they'll be able to afford the cost of operating legally. Others are upset about having to leave the no-vending zones the city created, including the busy Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Nipsey Hussle's murder rattles LA's tight-knit Eritrean community

The murder last month of L.A. rapper, entrepreneur and community activist Nipsey Hussle focused attention on a small but tight-knit community of East African immigrants: Eritreans, who have lived in Southern California for decades.

How white supremacists are recruiting educated 'normies' around LA

"You're talking about people who have legitimate jobs, or college students, college graduates. And then, they try to use that base to legitimize their movement."

Adelanto pulling out of detention contracts, but ICE facility there may grow

The high desert city of Adelanto has decided to cancel its contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Geo Group, the company that operates a large immigrant detention center there.

Hate groups try for mainstream appeal as they recruit in SoCal

White supremacist propaganda has been showing up at an alarming rate throughout Southern California and around the country. It's been found on local college campuses, high schools, and in local communities. Experts say one reason is because some hate groups are eager to recruit new members.

With Census 2020 a year away, officials worry about an undercount

Los Angeles county and city officials talked up the 2020 Census at a downtown L.A. rally on Monday, a year ahead of when the decennial count is set to take place. They’re trying to spread the word that an accurate count is critical because census data helps determine how many federal dollars go toward things like public health services and public schools.

Orange County plans to stop housing ICE detainees

Orange County has announced that it will stop housing detainees from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to free up more space for inmates requiring mental health services.

Police investigating anti-Semitic posters at San Fernando Valley schools

Police are investigating anti-Semitic posters left around several schools in the west San Fernando Valley this week.

How one refugee family made it to LA after years stuck in Vienna

A year ago, 87 Iranian refugees bound for the United States who’d been waiting in Austria since 2016 were stranded there indefinitely, after the U.S. denied their applications. They had been waiting to come to the U.S. through a program for religious minorities since before the January 2017 travel ban. Last month, following a court order, about a dozen of them were admitted into the country.

'Are we white?': SoCal's Arab-Americans debate which box to check on the census

Plans had been moving forward to include a category in the 2020 census referred to as MENA, for "Middle Eastern or North African." But the Trump administration nixed that idea last year.

White or 'other?' With no census category for 2020, Arab-Americans debate which box to check

Until about a year ago, plans were moving forward to include a category in the 2020 census referred to as MENA, for "Middle Eastern or North African." It would have allowed a more accurate count of Americans of Arabic, Persian and other Middle Eastern or North African descent, who are now counted only as "white.