LA County vows support for immigrants

Supervisors will create a task force to help deferred action applicants even as Obama’s relief programs are halted.

Supervisor Hilda Solis announces the creation of task force to help immigrants applying for deferred action. | D. Solomon

Supervisor Hilda Solis announces the creation of task force to help immigrants applying for deferred action. | D. Solomon

Los Angeles County officials voted Tuesday to put resources in place to help immigrants apply for deportation relief, despite a federal judge’s ruling last week to halt an expansion of the Obama administration’s deferred action programs.

The Board of Supervisors decided in a 4-1 vote to create a task force that would ensure support for the nearly 500,000 county residents who qualify for work permits and legal residency under two new federal programs.

Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who proposed the task force along with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, said county agencies need to prepare for the likelihood that the federal court ban is reversed. [Read more…]

Healthcare fair comes to South LA

Volunteer Carmen Abalos enjoyed a healthy snack during a break.

Volunteer Carmen Abalos enjoyed a healthy snack during a break.

Los Angeles Trade-Tech College was abuzz with crowds, booths, colorful displays, food, and games being played under large white tents last Saturday afternoon. In one corner, children bounced in an air-filled castle, taking occasional breaks to drink bottled water and eat fruit cups. The adults moved from table to table, chatting, carrying reusable shopping bags filled with paperwork and hand sanitizer.

In spite of the carnival-like atmosphere, the event’s purpose was serious: to provide hundreds of L.A.’s lowest income families with healthcare before the day’s end. [Read more…]

Obama announces immigration reform


Obama addresses voters | Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama announced Thursday executive actions that will remove the threat of deportation and grant work permits to as many as five million undocumented immigrants. This will apply to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for five years or more. Obama also expanded his 2012 action which authorized young people who came to the United States as children to remain legally in the country, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Since Congress has stagnated for years on creating immigration reform that changes laws and a path to citizenship, Obama issued the reform with his own presidential authority. [Read more…]

Activists protest deportations of Central American immigrant children

Activists fast to advocate for immigrant rights. | Sinduja Rangarajan

Activists fast to advocate for immigrant rights. | Sinduja Rangarajan

Several human rights activist organizations gathered at Central American Resource Center near McArthur Park on Tuesday to send a message out to Congress: Don’t change current laws that protect children who emigrate alone from Central America.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2008, allows unaccompanied minors who cross the border from Central America to have their cases individually considered by a judge. The law is meant to protect children who are fleeing from violence and abuse in their home countries.

“[This law] gives them the right to explain why they have fled their country and what the consequences would be if they were returned,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, directing attorney at the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project.”If Congress does away with these hearings, many children could be forcibly returned to deadly situations after only a cursory screening at the border or through an inadequate court process that disregards recognized standards of justice.” [Read more…]

Workers march for better wages on May Day

MayDay2014On the occasion of May Day this year — International Workers’ Day — more than forty organizations gathered in Chinatown to support workers’ rights and advocate for wage increases. The workers began their day by demanding wage increases from the Burger King and WalMart on Cesar Chavez Avenue. They they marched to Broadway, where a massive rally and march took off with thousands of people representing workers’ rights as well as causes such as as gay marriage, women’s rights, and environmental protection.

See also: Activists call for May Day worker reforms

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News to hear the sounds of protest on the street:

Activists call for May Day worker reforms

Maria Elena Durazo announces the 2014 May Day March in Downtown L.A. | Daina Beth Solomon

Maria Elena Durazo announces the 2014 May Day March in Downtown L.A. | Daina Beth Solomon

Cries of “¡Sí se puede!” and “Yes, we can!” filled the air at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles earlier this month as a crowd of a couple of dozen activists and workers demanded minimum wage increases and the passage of immigration reform.

“We’re uniting the issues of workers and their right to living wages and the right of immigrants to be in this country in a way that they are treated with respect,” said Maria Elena Durazo from the L.A. County Federation of Labor.

She also announced the new route for the annual Workers’ Day march on May 1. It will begin at Cesar Chavez and Broadway, concluding at the Metropolitan Detention Center about one half-mile away.  [Read more…]

First person: Why I should get in-state tuition as an undocumented student

Obama offered me protection from deportation and the chance to get a job — But what about my education?

My Graduation

Miguel pictured with family at his high school graduation in June 2012

I am told I crossed the border to the United States when I was 2 years old, sitting in the back of a car. But my earliest memories are of South Los Angeles — of my parents staying up until midnight and then waking up every weekday and on Saturdays at 3:00 a.m. to check on the tamales and boil water mixed with maizena, blocks of chocolate and cinnamon, for champurrado, a traditional Mexican corn-based drink. My dad would load his yellow vendor tricycle with a huge olla , or pot, of tamales, utensils, and the freshly made champurrado. My mom would fill a grocery cart with the prepared foods, which she would push as she walked my sister and me to elementary school.

That changed the fall of my senior year in high school. My parents told me they were moving because they feared for their lives. They had reported to the police that a gang member was extorting money from them. When the gang member found out, he threatened to kill them. My parents wanted me to move with them, but I chose to stay to finish high school because I believed there were more opportunities for me in California as an undocumented student. The day before I sat for the SAT, I said goodbye to my younger siblings and my parents.  My father started to cry when I hugged him; I think that was the first time I saw him cry — and it made me cry. I then entered my house alone and lay on my bed until I fell asleep. [Read more…]

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes immigrant jury bill

Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill that will allow undocumented immigrants receive driver's licenses. Photo by Grace Lim.

Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill that will allow undocumented immigrants receive driver’s licenses. Photo by Grace Lim.

Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill on Monday that would allow legal immigrants who are not citizens to serve on juries, saying that such a privilege, like voting, should be reserved for citizens.

Immigrant rights advocates such as Nora Phillips, an immigration attorney at the Central American Resource Center, and Jorge-Marco Cabrera, from CHIRLA, argue that the passing of this bill would have helped incarcerated immigrants because they would have been tried by a jury of their peers.

To hear more from Phillips and Cabrera about the veto’s implications, listen to this audio story from Annenberg Radio News:

[Read more…]