Según un estudio, Los Angeles tiene más que perder en el sub conteo del censo

By Mark Hedin, Ethnic Media Services | Translated by Oscar Arteta

California da la bienvenida a mucha gente nueva cada día, pero algunas regiones están creciendo tan rápido que pueden quitarle el poder político a las de crecimiento más lento. Los Angeles, el condado más poblado en la California actual, con más de 10 millones de habitantes, está perdiendo terreno frente al Área de la Bahía de San Francisco y los condados de San Bernardino y Riverside.

En su reciente informe: “Winners and Losers: The 2020 Census and California’s 2021 Redistricting,” el instituto Rose sobre Gobiernos Estatales y Locales (Rose Institute of State and Local Government) del Claremont McKenna College, observa las tendencias de población en todo el Estado y explica como esos cambios juegan un rol en el ámbito político.

En general, se proyecta que el Estado tenga un aumento de población del 8.7% respecto al que tenía en 2010, mientras que, en California, se espera que el Área de la Bahía de San Francisco muestre un crecimiento general del 11.9%, con los Condados de San Francisco en un 14%, Alameda un 14.5% y Contra Costa un 13.4%. Los condados de Santa Clara, Solano y San Mateo también están teniendo un crecimiento demográfico de dos dígitos.

En el sur de California, el Condado de Riverside aumentó un 15.2%, los condados de San Bernardino y Orange un 8.6% cada uno y San Diego un 11.2%. Pero la mayor parte de Los Angeles está creciendo a una tasa inferior al 5%.

Se supone que los distritos políticos deben incluir un número igual de personas. Así que cuando el Censo muestra que una región tiene más gente de la que solía tener, y otra tiene menos, se redefinen los límites de los distritos para equilibrar sus respectivas poblaciones.

Pero, así como Los Angeles está a punto de perder representación en Sacramento, los mismos principios que se aplican a las legislaturas estatales también entran en juego cuando se reparten los escaños en el Congreso de Estados Unidos. California, y el Sur y el Suroeste en general, han ganado escaños consistentemente. Pero en 2020, California podría, por primera vez, perder un escaño en el Congreso.

Cuatro distritos centrales del Congreso de Los Angeles – cada uno controlado por un demócrata de ascendencia hispana o asiática – se consolidarían en tres distritos para permitir que otro escaño en el Congreso vaya a un Estado de más rápido crecimiento, como Texas o Florida.

La metodología de cómo se distribuyen los escaños del Congreso es extrañamente complicada e imposible de explicar. Pero, básicamente, cada Estado obtiene un escaño y luego los 385 restantes se distribuyen según la población.

Los cuatro distritos del Congreso considerados como candidatos más probables para la contracción son el Distrito 27 de Judy Chu, en Pasadena; el Distrito 32 de Grace Napolitano, en El Monte; el Distrito 38 de Linda Sanchez, en Lakewood; y el Distrito 40 de Lucille Roybal-Allard, en Downey.

Mientras que en el pasado los esfuerzos de redistribución de distritos intentaron preservar la identidad étnica de tal distrito, esos cuatro distritos están rodeados por otros con una demografía similar, así que, si California perdiese un escaño en el Congreso, parece seguro que sería uno que pertenecería a un demócrata de ascendencia hispana o asiática, según lo que indicó Douglas Johnson, uno de los autores del informe, a Ethnic Media Services.

Sin embargo, dijo, una diferencia al contar tan sólo 40,000 californianos más en el censo podría evitar que eso ocurra.

Las proyecciones del informe se basan en datos recopilados por la Oficina del Censo en sus Encuestas Comunitarias Estadounidenses anuales hasta el 2017 y extrapolados de allí en adelante, luego comparados con los datos del Censo de 2010.

Los condados de Los Angeles, San Bernardino y Riverside se han comprometido a formar Comités de Conteo Completo para asegurar que todos sus residentes sean contados en el censo del próximo año.

Mark Hedin

Mark Hedin

Reporter

Mark Hedin is a reporter for Ethnic Media Services. He has spent a lifetime in the newspaper business, with extensive experience at the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Chronicle, the East Bay Times, Central City Extra, and SF State’s Golden Gater, as well as other papers.

Mixtec families stake claim to Oxnard coast

Arcenio Lopez (front, right) of the Mixtec Indigenous Community Organization Project and Lucas Zucker (front, left) of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy lead Mixtec families to Ormond Beach on a tour of the area, where activists are working to reclaim and restore the shoreline. (photo: Mark Hedin)

By Mark Hedin, Ethnic Media Services

OXNARD, Ventura County – Obsolete power plants, a paper mill and a busy trucking route serving nearby ports have long separated Oxnard’s Ormond Beach from the people who live nearby.

On a beautiful Saturday morning, a busload of Mixtec families visited Ormond Beach, many for the first time. Immigrants from southern Mexico, who speak Mixteco, were joined by representatives from environmental organizations and Oxnard City Council members working to restore the shoreline.

Chris Kroll, project manager for the state Coastal Conservancy agency, said the April 6 tour was part of the agency’s “current effort to develop a final restoration and public access plan” for the 630 acres of coastline it oversees with the Nature Conservancy and city of Oxnard.

“The purpose was to reach out to the Mixtec community in the immediately adjacent community of South Oxnard and get their input,” he said.

Cynthia Hartley, of the Ventura County Audubon Society, recalled when the beach was a popular spot for off-road vehicles, the sand dunes and tall grasses were blown away, and with them, the nesting sites for migratory birds and other wildlife that had visited the region for centuries.

But off-road vehicles have been banned from the beach since 2003, she said, crediting the Coastal Conservancy and pointing out where the dunes and wildlife have started making a comeback.

Hartley and the beach’s unofficial steward Walter Fuller welcomed passengers from the 40-foot school bus chartered by the Coastal Conservancy, which had dropped everybody off after winding past the acres of fenced-off fields of strawberries, cauliflower and turf grass under cultivation where some of the passengers work.

“It’s a critical place for special wildlife,” Hartley said, describing the California least terns, birds that winter in Brazil and fly 8,000 miles annually. The terns and snowy plovers, both endangered species, have visited the Ventura County shoreline for thousands of years.

With the formalities behind them, the group walked the last couple of hundred yards to the Pacific. The kids immediately began exploring and playing amid the driftwood, seaweed, shells and other typical beach detritus, or dipping their toes in the water as the waves ebbed and flowed and their parents looked on. Not far off, two red and white smokestacks jutted skyward above a now-shuttered power plant.

Next on the tour was a quick look at the north end of the beach, where
the most distinguishing feature was the stink of the still-operating paper plant a block or two’s distance from the road’s end.

Lucas Zucker, of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), spoke briefly about the competing interests in the community, such as the trucking industry’s hopes to use some undeveloped land for parking, where other people envision a park.

The brief stop was followed by a lunch at the Southwinds Community Center where local elected officials and environmentalists discussed the shoreline and their hopes for its future.

Oxnard Mayor Pro-Tem Carmen Ramirez described how, growing up in Los Angeles, “it was my everyday dream to go to the beach 20 minutes away. I think we went twice.” As an elected official she is hoping kids in her community will have more opportunities than she did to enjoy the natural beauty of the region.

“Our parents should have the right to walk with their children in an environment that is healthy,” said Arcenio Lopez, executive director of the Mixtec Indigenous Community Organization Project (MICOP), who came up with the idea for the tour. He called it “an opportunity for us to introduce our families to these two places – one known, but very contaminated, the other we didn’t know.”

“What’s surprising,” he said, is that the city of Oxnard is looking to restore the beach and have the community’s input on what they would like to see for the beach. For MICOP, it’s an opportunity to bridge the gaps, including language barriers, between the community, the city, the state Coastal Commission and other environmental agencies.

MICOP has developed strong communication with the city council on other projects and initiatives such as its “Safe City” initiative.

“We’re looking forward to doing that on Ormond Beach,” he said.

None of Ormond Beach is at risk of being mistaken any time soon for the protected beauty of wealthier communities such as Malibu to the south or Santa Barbara to the north, as Maricela Morales of CAUSE said at the community center.

“We are about environmental justice,” she said. “Ninety-eight percent of our environment across the state is less polluted than this area, so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The only difference between the local community and those of the cleaner beaches up and down the coast, she said, is that “they’re poor and they’re brown. We’re here today because of the families. This wall of pollution makes it virtually inaccessible to these kids. For many it was their first time.”

While the remaining power plants are slated for shutdown next year, Morales said, “right now we don’t have a path forward.”

The power plants are being decommissioned as part of the statewide phasing out of their cooling systems that rely on drawing water – and unlucky creatures – from the sea. But in the short term, the expectation is that the most likely next users of the site of the decommissioned plants will be the homeless.

Kroll said the Coastal Conservancy is hoping to have a draft plan ready within a few weeks and to present it at public meetings in June or July.

Mark Hedin

Mark Hedin

Reporter

Mark Hedin is a reporter for Ethnic Media Services. He has spent a lifetime in the newspaper business, with extensive experience at the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Chronicle, the East Bay Times, Central City Extra, and SF State’s Golden Gater, as well as other papers.

Governor explains death penalty moratorium: ‘I cannot do this’

By Mark Hedin, Ethnic Media Services

California Governor Gavin Newsom, in a telebriefing organized by Ethnic Media Services on Tuesday, March 19, described the reasoning behind his recent decision to grant reprieves from execution to the 737 people languishing on Death Row in California.

“No one is being released,” he said, but during his administration, “there will be no executions in the state of California.”

Although California hasn’t executed an inmate since 2006, 25 of the 737 people on Death Row, Newsom said, have exhausted all of their appeals.

The death penalty, he said, “is error-prone and racist … fundamentally unfair, unjust and wasteful.”

Newsom’s decision, announced the week before, applies only to his own term in office as governor of the state, but already the gas chamber and electric chair at San Quentin State Prison have been closed down and the state will not pursue new supplies of the chemicals used in executions by lethal injection. Asked whether people might continue to face death penalty prosecutions, Newsom said that he is exploring that option in conversations with state Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

As governor, Newsom has both the responsibility to sign off on executions and the discretion to grant reprieves. Allowing what he described as “a barbaric system” to continue, he said, “would contradict a lot of the values that I hold dear.” Newsom expressed his opposition to the death penalty during his 2017 campaign for governor and actively campaigned against ballot measures in 2006 and 2012 in which California voters expressed continued support for capital punishment.

“I didn’t come to this flippantly, lightly, over just a few weeks,” he said, and described how, 40 years ago, Judge William Newsom, his grandfather, helped clear the name of Pete Pianezzi, “The Bum Rap Kid” (the title of his autobiography) who had been framed in an organized crime murder case. As a boy, Newsom met Pianezzi.

“I understand that people have other points of view and I respect those,” Newsom said. “I want to hold people accountable for their crimes. I do believe in rehabilitation, and justice.”

He said he expects that there will be another ballot initiative on capital punishment, but believes perspectives on the matter are changing. Among the 30 other states that still have capital punishment on the books, he cited current efforts in Colorado and New Hampshire to end it.

The next step, he said, would be to consider commuting death sentences to life without the possibility of parole, something that, at least in some cases, might require state Supreme Court concurrence. Beyond that, he said, would be an effort “to work collaboratively with the attorney general’s office” to no longer prosecute crimes as death-penalty cases.

“There is an administration of death,” he said, that “consumes court time and the criminal justice system and exhausts the soul and the pocketbook.” The state has executed 13 people since the death penalty was reintroduced by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1978, while another 120 Death Row inmates in California have died either of natural causes or suicide. Five people have been found to have been wrongly convicted in California, another 159 have been exonerated nationwide.

Newsom cited studies concluding that not everybody on Death Row is guilty of the crimes that put them there, such as a National Academy of Sciences study finding that one in 25 is likely innocent. Given California’s current Death Row population of 737, that ratio suggests there are 30 innocent people languishing in “the biggest Death Row in the western hemisphere.”

Newsom mentioned Vicente Figueroa Benavides, released last year at age 68 after almost 25 years on Death Row in a Delano County case where doctors eventually recanted their testimony that a child’s death resulted from being sexually assaulted. Benavides’ step-daughter is now believed to most likely have been killed by a car.

All five of the people eventually exonerated of the crimes that sent them to California’s Death Row, Newsom said, were people of color.

The system is biased, he said, not only in terms of ethnicity – with 66.4% of Death Row inmates being people of color, and disproportionately black and Hispanic, but the system also victimizes people with mental disabilities or those who “can’t afford the right kind of representation.” Disparities also crop up based on crime victims’ ethnicity and there are inequities in the representation of communities where the crimes occurred.

“The entire criminal justice system treats people differently based on wealth, how they look and where they live.” Los Angeles and Riverside counties are over-represented on Death Row, he said.

“You’re better off being rich and guilty than poor and innocent.”

Newsom said he’s studied “in gruesome, horrific detail” 230 of the crimes that sent people to Death Row and had the “honor and privilege of spending time with victims outraged by my determination.

“I take that to heart,” he said. But other victims have counseled him that he’s powerless to provide what they want most, the return of their victimized loved ones, and argue that “more violence does not heal.”

Beyond the $150 billion in state spending tied to its death penalty, the governor said, “we’ve heard from (prison) guards that have been impacted forever, and also jurors. … The evidence is overwhelming that the death penalty is not a deterrent.”

“I think public opinion is shifting on this; people are moving in a more enlightened direction,” he said. “Voters didn’t want the governor to execute wrongly. Besides the responsibility to sign off on executions, he said, “the authority invested in this office gives the governor the right to reprieve, to make exactly the kind of determination I’ve made.”

Mark Hedin

Mark Hedin

Reporter

Mark Hedin is a reporter for Ethnic Media Services. He has spent a lifetime in the newspaper business, with extensive experience at the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Chronicle, the East Bay Times, Central City Extra, and SF State’s Golden Gater, as well as other papers.

Immigrant Rights in Limbo

By Jaya Padmanabhan, Ethnic Media Services

Thousands of immigrants who are asylum seekers, avail of certain government assistance programs, on temporary protective status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients find that there’s been no significant change in long-term legislative action to protect their rights to live and work in the United States.

Between the Muslim ban, the separation of families, terminating DACA, public charge and ending temporary protections for many, the immigrant community has had to face serious challenges since President Trump assumed office.

DACA

Nearly 800,000 have registered for the DACA program in the almost seven years since its inception in 2012. Allison Davenport, an attorney at Immigration Legal Resource Center, said at a national telebriefing on the status of key immigrant rights issues, organized by Immigration Legal Resource Attorneys and Ethnic Media Services on February 28, that “it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for DACA recipients because the future of the program has been on the chopping block over the last year and a half.”

The Pew Research reported in July 2018 that 73% of Americans favor granting legal status to children brought to the U.S. illegally (DACA recipients). Despite this overwhelming support the federal administration has not moved to re-instate the DACA program after rescinding it in the fall of 2017.

It is due to three lawsuits filed in federal courts that nationwide injunctions were issued requiring the USCIS to continue processing DACA renewals. The injunction will be valid until the DACA situation is fully decided.

The Trump administration has petitioned the Supreme Court to issue a judgement on the decision to terminate DACA, but it is not clear whether the Supreme Court will hear the case in its current term.

Whether the Supreme Court takes up the case or doesn’t, the injunctions will continue in place until fall 2019, which means that DACA renewals will continue to be processed until that time.

The big takeaway, according to Davenport, is that those who have DACA status or have had DACA status in the past are eligible to submit applications for renewal in order to get a new two-year period of DACA status as well as a work permit. Davenport advised DACA holders to pursue the renewal process six months in advance of the expiration date.

When it comes to new applications, “unfortunately, the orders from the federal court do not allow for new DACA applications,” Davenport said. In other words, those who’ve never had DACA status are not eligible to apply.

Urging immigrants to get legal help to figure out other options, with or without DACA, Davenport said that “there have been some studies of people who’ve applied for DACA and when they’ve gone for consultation, between 15% and 25% of them have been eligible for some other form of immigration status or protection and they just didn’t know it.”

TPS

About 300,000 TPS holders are in the same holding pattern as DACA holders. Temporary protected status is assigned to nationals from designated countries for humanitarian considerations. A majority of TPS holders have been living in the United States for close to two decades.

Julie Mitchell from CARECEN, the Central American resource center, explained that the Trump administration has taken steps to terminate TPS for all designated countries “except those with ongoing wars.”

Multiple lawsuits have been filed across the country to protect the rights and privileges of TPS holders affected by the termination. On October 2018, one of the lawsuits, Ramos v. Nielsen enjoined the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing the termination of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador. Mitchell said that another case filed this month is taking on the case of TPS holders from Nepal and Honduras.

“Parents once protected by TPS are wondering whether to leave their children behind or take them to countries reeling from disaster,” said Mayra Alvarez, president of the Children’s Partnership, a California advocacy organization.

Asylum Seekers

In an effort to dissuade those from Central America to seek refuge in the United States, several steps have been taken by the administration to limit the numbers making their asylum case at the borders.

There was a major attack on private actor persecution policy, that is threats from private individuals, making asylum virtually impossible for those trying to evade domestic violence or gang violence situations. This, in effect, was “rewriting 38 years of asylum law,” remarked Mitchell.

Turning away asylum seekers, including minors, at border checkpoints has been common as is “metering of asylum applicants.” Metering is a policy designed to limit the number of asylum applicants entering the United States each day. The applicants are required to wait at makeshift migrant shelters, often bursting beyond capacity. Handwritten lists of people are alleged to be recording and preserving places of people waiting in line to be seen and heard by a US immigrations officer.

The Remain in Mexico rule, was put into place a few weeks ago, according to Mitchell. This policy requires that asylum seekers remain in Mexico while their cases are processed in US immigration courts. The Mexican government has agreed to go along with this policy and it is being implemented at the San Ysidro border with the expectation that it will be expanded to other border sites.

Furthermore, according to Mitchell, US attorneys and journalists are being denied admission to Mexico to cover or help the human rights cases of migrants in central America. In essence, the government is severely handicapping asylum seekers by forcing them to stay in Mexico and at the same time limiting access to attorneys while their cases are being adjudicated.

Public Charge

A public charge determination examines whether an immigrant is or is likely to be dependent on the government for support. On Oct 10, 2018, there was a proposal to change the public charge rule. The changes would affect non-US citizens who apply for a visa to enter the country or lawful permanent status — a green card. At both these process junctures, a determination will be made as to the likelihood of whether the person is or is likely to be a “public charge,” based on the person’s age, health, family and financial status and educational skills.

The change in the public charge substantial broadens the definition of public charge to include previously excluded housing, health and nutrition programs, including California’s Medi-Cal and food stamps program (SNAP).

This is just a proposal to change the public charge policy, at the moment, “however the damage is already done,” warns Alvarez. “Too many families are living in fear and confused about what policies have or have not changed and they’re reacting in response,” she said.

If the proposed public charge policy moves forward, many immigrant parents “may dis-enroll their children from health insurance, food stamps and other federally subsidized programs.”

Alvarez said that based on analysis with kidsdata.org, it was estimated that between 113,000 and 300,000 children in California could be withdrawn from food stamps and between 269,000 and 628,000 children could be withdrawn from healthcare programs. “We run the risk of increasing our uninsured children from 3% up above 88%,” she added.

The public charge policy proposed is likely to affect far more than its intended recipients, and stoke widespread panic among immigrants.

In a gratifying move, thousands of people recognized the harmful effects of the proposed public charge change and came forward to make their voices heard. “Before the Trump administration can finalize the proposed rule, the government must review more than 266,000 comments submitted on the proposal. Thus far about 64,000 comments have been reviewed,” Alvarez summarized. So it will take a few months, at the very least, before anything on the proposed public charge is decided.

And as such, Alvarez urged immigrants to continue using health, housing and nutrition programs as they did before.

Even with the concerted efforts of the Trump administration to limit, prevent and pursue immigrant rights, experts at the telebriefing said that nothing has really changed. With the courts in play, many of the harmful policies are still to be implemented. Ultimately, it’s up to Congress to set the right tone and follow through on long-lasting policies that recognize the positive impact of immigrants in our communities.

Jaya Padmanabhan

Jaya Padmanabhan

Jaya writes an immigration column for the SF Examiner and contributes to Bay Area publications on race, politics, immigration and mental health. She was the editor of India Currents, an Indian American monthly magazine started in 1987, from 2012 to 2016.

San Jose makes its plans for Coyote Valley – Voters OK’d millions for green space, water quality

Coyote Valley (Photo from Greenbelt Alliance).

By Mark Hedin, Ethnic Media Services

Under the watchful eyes of dozens of community activists who hours earlier had rallied outside on the plaza, San Jose’s City Council held a study session Jan. 22 to discuss plans for Coyote Valley.

The valley is a 7,400-acre swath of farms and undeveloped land extending south from San Jose to Morgan Hill, between the Santa Cruz Mountains on the west and the Diablo Range to the east.

By an overwhelming margin ꟷ 71% ꟷ voters in November endorsed Measure T, which authorized the city to float $650 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements throughout San Jose, including up to $50 million to buy land in Coyote Valley for conservation purposes.

Among the expected benefits are natural flood mitigation, enhanced groundwater protection and wildlife habitat and open space for recreational purposes.

The city must now decide how to spend the bond money. Besides Coyote Valley, the city is looking at what to prioritize with the other $600 million of bond money, intended to be spent fixing roads and bridges and upgrading fire stations and emergency operations.

But the Jan. 22 study session was all about how to proceed in Coyote Valley. And although the voting public spoke clearly in its 71% support of Measure T, developers and Coyote Valley property owners are holding out hopes of making more money by building there. The city could opt to spend less than the $50 million voters authorized, or look for options that would still allow some Coyote Valley development. But, Greenbelt Alliance program director Brian Schmidt told Ethnic Media Services, doing so would “not be following the spirit of the measure.”

Over the course of four and a half hours, the City Council heard presentations organized into three categories: “Land Use Planning,” “Environmental Perspective” and “Development Perspective.” Then, for 45 minutes, the public was allowed a chance to address the council, in one-minute increments per speaker.

Opening the land use planning portion of the discussions, Chris Burton, deputy director of the city’s Office of Economic Development, reminded the council that Coyote Valley development had long factored into the city’s planning as an “employment lands growth area.” As such, it has been expected to deliver tens of thousands of jobs, primarily from an industrialized northern sector of the valley. San Jose land with that designation is in relatively short supply and job opportunities are limited for those without higher education degrees.

The environmental panel emphasized the hope of creating a wildlife corridor so animals can range freely between the mountain ranges. By restoring the valley’s Laguna Seca wetlands and taking full advantage of unpaved ground’s ability to absorb rainfall, the city will be protecting and replenishing the aquifer, they argued, safeguarding the source of a third of the city’s drinking water. Doing so would also help prevent catastrophic flooding such as the city experienced in December 2017 ꟷ and is continuing to remediate, at a cost surpassing $100 million. They also emphasized the value of protecting a natural habitat for people’s recreational use and reminded the council that aesthetic values also can provide economic benefits.

Burton also led the development presentation, with representatives of real estate developer Scannell Corp, real estate investment firm Jones, Lang LaSalle, and Kate Sofis, of SFMake and Manufacture: San Jose.

Collectively, they argued that Coyote Valley represents the city’s best opportunity to attract businesses that can’t afford downtown rents and would otherwise find Newark, Fremont, Tracy or Livermore more attractive options.

In the question-and-answer period that followed, Mayor Sam Laccardo asked them about the added cost developers face due to the state’s VMT ꟷ vehicle miles traveled ꟷ assessment. The VMT factor is a product of the state legislature’s SB 743 from 2013, which San Jose chose to implement in 2018. It will apply statewide by July 2020, part of the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases, it imposes a fee on new projects based on their anticipated traffic impacts.

A 200,000- to 500,000-square-foot facility, employing 1,000-1,200 workers, would incur about $17 million in transit fees, the Scannell Corporation representative calculated.

“No matter how much they want to be near San Jose, they’re going to move to Tracy or Livermore,” he said.

“The state (California) may have just decided this for us,” Laccorda replied.

District 10 council rep Johnny Khamis asked how much flooding might be prevented by preserving the open space, and had some pointed questions about the effect of surrendering possible job creation by declining to industrialize Coyote Valley.

An unofficial appraisal of the privately held Coyote Valley lands is about $130 million. The Peninsula Open Space Trust has pledged to pony up what the city cannot and already begun the process.

Other possible sources of funding include FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the Army Corps of Engineers, which support flood mitigation efforts.

Dozens of people filled out public comment cards for the opportunity to voice their opinions at the conclusion of the session. Some called for “a balanced approach.” Others bemoaned a “short-term pursuit of tax revenue,” saying “the jobs are not going to be coming full force” because changes in technology, for example, are likely to alter the economic landscape.

Others emphasized the special qualities of the land in its natural state. “This is unique, irreplaceable and also a flood plain,” one said. “Coyote Valley is doing its actual, natural job. Just protect the land and stick with the voters.”

The next City Council meeting, on Feb. 12, will feature more comprehensive discussions about Measure T. Three council members were absent for the Coyote Valley study session: District 4’s Lan Diep, District 5’s Magdalena Carrasco and District 8’s Sylvia Arenas.

The worst possible outcome, Schmidt told Ethnic Media Services, would be if proposed warehouse development were approved. Such spaces, which provide only a few jobs, would avoid the disincentive posed by the VMT assessment but have an outsized environmental effect by paving over the natural sponge that open land provides.

Mark Hedin

Mark Hedin

Reporter

Mark Hedin is a reporter for Ethnic Media Services.

From womb to tomb—LA County Offers “Oasis of Support” to Immigrants

Supervisor Hilda L. Solis speaking at the January 18 briefing (Photo by Bryan Chan, Chief Photographer, LA Board of Supervisors).

By Jaya Padmanabhan, Reporter

If you’re an immigrant and reside in Los Angeles county, there are resources available for you, whether for legal needs or non-legal ones like food, health, environment or education. This was the message of support that came from L.A. county leaders who promised to serve immigrants in tangible ways at a briefing organized by Ethnic Media Services on January 18, 2019.

At a time when the federal government continuously re-defines who is an American, and who is entitled to the rights and privileges of being American, the L.A. county is an “oasis of services” for all its residents, regardless of immigrant status.

Supervisor Hilda L. Solis called out the federal government’s decisions to strip immigrants of their Temporary Protected Status, ending DACA, separating kids from their families and targeting Vietnamese and Muslim communities. “I, too, am a daughter of immigrants. They [My parents] sought their opportunities going through discrimination,” said Solis. They came through different pathways from different countries, fleeing poverty and civil unrest and met in America and fashioned a life together. Her parents’ experiences made Solis recognize the courage and hardship that are part of the migration process.

About thirty-five percent of the residents of L.A. county’s 10 million residents are immigrants. With this sizeable diverse population, it’s important that the county attends to its different voices and is able to communicate in a culturally competent and linguistically appropriate manner, according to Solis.

Rigo Reyes, executive director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, gave context to the demographics of L.A. county. The population of the county is larger than that of 42 states in the country; sixty percent of all kids have at least one parent who is an immigrant; on average, 85% of residents have lived in the county for more than 10 years; and forty-two percent of employed people are immigrants. “It behooves us to make sure to promote the success of immigrants,” Reyes said, adding that the county provides services “from womb to tomb.”

Making immigration one of its key priorities, Solis said that the L.A. county board of supervisors has voted on 34 motions to protect immigrants. And, through a public-private partnership, a Legal Justice fund has been set up to provide resources to immigrants in court. With a goal of $10 million in funding, the legal fund has acquired $3 million from the county, $2 million from the City and plans to get the rest from foundations and donors.

Using an analogy, Reyes demonstrated the importance of the Legal Justice fund. Imagine I go outside and steal a muffin and I get caught and charged. I don’t have money for legal fees, but I’m entitled to, and get a court-appointed lawyer. Now imagine that I’m a five-year old child who gets separated from my parents at the border and I’m sitting in front of a judge in deportation hearings. I don’t have the right to be defended in court, and hence have no lawyer and furthermore I speak no English. Who represents me? These are the kinds of cases that the L.A. Legal Justice fund will take on, Reyes said.

When it comes to health care, Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said that her department tries to ensure that “everyone has what they need to be healthy.” With 14 health clinics and mobile vans, free immunization is provided to all residents. This is important not only to protect each individual but all those around, too, from communicable and preventable diseases. Through education and training programs, healthy practices and hygienic food handling behaviors are emphasized. Most importantly, all children can access medical services, including dental care, through Medi-Cal.

With the changes to the Public Charge policy proposed by the federal government in October 2018, immigrants fear that if they access county services, they will be targeted. Joseph Nicchitta from the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, as well as other L.A. county representatives reiterated that changes, if enacted, will not be retroactive and residents should avail of the county’s services, including food stamps, medical benefits and public housing.

At the call center set up by the L.A. county’s Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), at least three calls are received everyday around Public Charge, explained Roxana Molina, the chief of DPSS. “Our message is that nothing has changed … if you are in need of cash assistance, medical assistance, you have the ability to get these services.”

With the government shutdown, DPSS was asked to issue the following week’s Cal Fresh benefits in advance. Molina advised immigrants on Cal Fresh to “budget their benefits wisely.”

County stakeholders from Human Rights First, Program for Torture Victims (PTV), Catholic Charities, Al Otro Lado, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) and CARECEN promised to supplement L.A. county’s immigrant initiatives.

“There is trauma in migration, there is trauma in loss, there is trauma in leaving home,” said Carol Gomez from PPV. People from all over the world are seeking asylum in the faith that America is a beacon of hope. Gomez thanked L.A. county for having safe spaces for refugees and asylees and for making the county “a safety net and a sanctuary.”

Nora Phillips from Al Otro Lado talked about her work in re-uniting separated children with their parents. “We find out where the parents are, we interview parents, we find out where the kids are being detained and work with the Office of Refugee Resettlement to get the kids to the parents” she said. The process takes about a week or less, and some of the problems that Al Otro Lado faces include missing data and parents living in rural areas and speaking indigenous languages. She estimates that 14,000 kids are currently being detained. There’s a lot of work still to be done.

Showing leadership to the rest of California and the nation, L.A. county leaders declared that they stand strongly together and in unison to combat the divisive and demeaning language and policies being used against immigrants.

The biggest worry of the moment is apathy, said Supervisor Solis. “We cannot afford to sit back. We have to stand up and speak.”

Jaya Padmanabhan

Jaya Padmanabhan

Reporter

Jaya Padmanabhan is a consultant for Ethnic Media Services, a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Archives

Categories

Camp Fire’s Toxin Runoff Poses Threat to Prized Salmon

By David Waddell, ChicoSol

Obscured by the staggering human losses in last month’s Camp Fire devastation are the potential consequences of the disaster for Butte Creek’s highly valued Chinook salmon. During a particularly vulnerable time in their lifecycle, the fish now will confront toxic runoff from the inferno.

The Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history, started Nov. 8 and quickly became a mega-blaze, engulfing more than 150,000 Butte County acres in Paradise, Magalia and Concow, destroying nearly 14,000 homes and in excess of 500 commercial structures, killing at least 86 people and displacing nearly 27,000.

Horrific though it was, long-term, the Camp Fire the blaze will benefit wildlife, biologists say. But in the near term, some species will struggle. Even birds, though able to flee the flames, will have short-term winners and losers: Raptors in grasslands are better able to spot prey whose ground cover was turned to ash, but other birds will starve from a lack of acorns and berries during the winter.

And as for the salmon, the timing of the Camp Fire couldn’t have been worse, fisheries expert Allen Harthorn said. But it will take about three years to know whether and to what extent that spring-run salmon population has been poisoned by a potential witches’ brew of toxins flowing from the extremely hot wildfire.
That’s when most of the surviving salmon that today are juveniles are due to return from the Pacific Ocean to spawn and die.

But for this year’s brood, Harthorn said, “The juveniles … are up out of the gravel and swimming around on their own. … They’re at their most vulnerable stage to toxic and excess sediment pollution.
And about those toxics: “I wouldn’t venture to guess what you’re going to find in a burned-out home,” Harthorn said. “Pesticides, paint, paint thinners, plastics. … Computers have heavy metals, and most everyone had a computer. … There was asbestos in a lot of the old buildings … Just a whole suite of potentially harmful chemicals.”

Less noxious but still a concern, excess sediment caused by erosion from denuded hillsides also could harm salmon habitat.

NAMED FOR THE SEASON
Spring-run Chinook salmon are named for the time of year that most begin returning to their fresh-water origins as adults from the ocean. In California, historically, the species was abundant from the now-parched San Joaquin River in the south to the northernmost waterways. However, a deep decline led to the species in 1999 being listed as endangered by the state and federal governments.

Today, spring-run salmon creeks have dwindled to a mere handful. Butte Creek is by far the Central Valley’s most robust and considered key to the species’ health. Last year, 2,100 adult salmon were counted in Butte Creek, compared with an average of about 500 per year each in Mill and Deer creeks in Tehama County.
“And that was a bad year for Butte Creek,” Harthorn said.

LETHAL FIRE
According to Henry Lomeli, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, the Camp Fire occurred in “predominantly chaparral and mixed conifer ecosystems” that contain a wide variety of wildlife. Although some miraculous survival stories[http://chicosol.org/2018/11/27/camp-firechanged-lives-survivors-story/] were reported, many animals, both domestic and wild, were killed in the intense, fast-moving, fire.

“Paradise contained numerous green belts that were home to a wide range of urban wildlife species … surrounded by … neighborhoods that burned and these animals had nowhere to flee. Urban populations of … deer, bears, skunks, squirrels, foxes, rabbits, raccoons and other smaller animals that were fortunate enough to survive the initial wall of fire will most likely face higher winter mortality.” Lomeli said.

But the ecosystem, he said, is “highly fire-dependent” and in the long term, both mammal and bird populations will benefit from the fire. “A majority of the natural landscape that burned in the Camp Fire … could not be healthy without burning. … If you truly believe in functional ecosystems, then the long-term impact on wildlife due to the fire is positive.”

MANAGE OR LOSE IT
Drawing on the practices of indigenous tribes, including the Mechoopda, Chico State geography professor Don Hankins is also a passionate advocate for prescribed and controlled burning.

“Most native animals have adapted to fire,” he said. His academic expertise includes pyro geography and land restoration. “A lot of species benefit from fire. … It’s not always doom and gloom.”

The prescribed burning he oversees in the university-managed Butte Creek Ecological Preserve, he said, is motivated by a desire to protect the creek’s Chinook salmon: “If we’re not going to manage the habitat around them, they’ll be lost.”

David Waddell

David Waddell is the news director for ChicoSol.

Elecciones a mitad de legislatura destacan el poder del voto latino

El recuento completo de lo latino aún no está completo, pero la información disponible sobre el voto latino a mitad de legislatura clarifica una cosa. El poder latino va en aumento.

Los informes preliminares indican que un récord de 29 millones de latinos (el 12.8% de todos los votantes elegibles y más del 11% de todos los votantes en todo el país fueron latinos, en lo que los analistas consideran un salto muy grande. Los resultados en un número de elecciones estatales en estados con grandes poblaciones latinas también indican que los votantes latinos ejercieron un poder aumentado este año, algunos con una inclinación a favor de Trump, la mayoría con una inclinación decididamente anti-GOP, anti-Trump. De los latinos que votaron la semana pasada, por ejemplo, el 69 por ciento votaron demócrata, mientras que el 29 por ciento a los republicanos, según datos de los sondeos a boca de urna del National Election Pool.

Los temores republicanos del votante latino están empezando a manifestarse. Más de 1 de cada 4 votantes latinos votaban por primera vez. La emoción demócrata con el futuro, sin embargo, puede que no se realice lo suficientemente rápido para el 2020, gracias, en buena medida a la continuada falta de inversión en el voto latino por los demócratas.

Aún así, a pesar del hecho de que la mayoría de los latinos declararon que no habían sido contactados por un partido principal acerca de registrarse para votar, a pesar de la falta histórica y continua de inversión que muchos llaman el “problema latino” de los demócratas, los demócratas parecen ser los benefactores del aumento del poder de votos latino.

Un número de indicadores, como los picos en los números de votantes latinos votando en estados de contienda y competencias políticas, los aumentos récord de latinos en elecciones congresales, un aumento en los oficiales estatales latinos elegidos en competencias políticas en 36 estados, una disminución en los miembros latinos republicanos del Congreso, un aumento en la participación de mujeres latinas y en el número de latinos elegidos, parecería indicar una realización del momento latino anti-Trump que algunos predijeron.

La inclinación anti-Trump es indiscutible en las competencias congresales. La mayoría de los latinos en el siguiente congreso serán anti-Trump, ya que el número de miembros latinos demócratas en la Cámara de representantes subió de 27 a 32, mientras que se mantuvo estable en el Senado. Muchos de los candidatos latinos compitieron directamente en contra de Trump. Al mismo tiempo, el número de republicanos latinos cayó de siete a cinco.

Similarmente, los resultados a mitad de legislatura en los principales estados latinos también favorecieron a los demócratas, con los latinos formando una gran parte de los votantes en competencias competitivas del Senado. En la competencia del Senado en Tejas, por ejemplo, el 64% de los latinos votaron a Beto O´Rourke, demócrata mientras que el 35% votaron al republicano en funciones, Ted Cruz, en lo que fue una participación latina sin precedentes en el mayor estado del país. Un análisis de la participación de votantes anticipados en algunos de los condados más grandes y más diversos en Tejas encontró grandes aumentos en la participación latina, lo que igualó los niveles vistos en las elecciones presidenciales de 2016 (participación en las competencias presidenciales normalmente es mucho mayor que en las elecciones a mitad de legislatura).

Los indicadores locales en Tejas dieron un resultado parecido. En el condado de El Paso, la tierra natal del candidato Beto O’Rourke, la participación de votantes aumentó en un 168 por ciento desde 2014. Hidalgo, Webb, Travis, Cameron y varios otros condados de Tejas vieron subidas mayores del 100% en la participación de votantes latinos.

En Florida, un récord de 2.2 millones de latinos se registraron para votar en 2018, un aumento del 8.4% más que en el 2016. De los latinos que votaron en la competencia del Senado aún disputada, el 54% de los latinos votaron a Bill Nelson, demócrata y el 45% apoyaron a Rick Scott, republicano, mientras que el 54% de los latinos votaron a Andrew Gillum, demócrata y el 44% votaron a Ron DeSantis, republicano. Muchos analistas creen que estos resultados señalan una continuación en el descenso y caída del voto cubano más conservador que antes reinaba en el estado del sol.

En Nevada, el 67% de los latinos que votaron a Jacky Rosen, demócrata en la competencia del Senado, tuvo un papel importante en la derrota de Dean Heller, republicano, que perdió por poco menos que 50,000 votos. Los sindicatos de Las Vegas, muchos de los cuales son más del 50% latino, desempeñaron papeles definitivos, registrando decenas de miles de nuevos votantes latinos.

Y en California, cuya mayoría de latinos hace que sea el mayor estado latino del país, los votantes latinos impulsaron a los candidatos ganadores, e incluso a los perdedores. Aunque perdió, Kevin de León, senador estatal, superó expectativas en su competencia contra Dianne Feinstein, la poderosa Senadora de EUA en funciones, que gastó más que él por millones, pero solo le ganó por menos de 10 puntos de porcentaje, en lo que a duras penas se podría llamar la gran derrota que muchos esperaban. Los votantes latinos desempeñaron un papel definitivo en la campaña y subida de de León.

Tan revelador como cualquier indicador en el país son los resultados de la cuna del republicanismo Reagan y bastión republicano de hace mucho tiempo conocido como la “Cortina naranja”. En el Condado de Orange, los demócratas, con la ayuda del electorado latino de rápido crecimiento, probablemente representará a cinco de los siete distritos congresales en el condado y sus alrededores, lo que sería una vuelta completa de la tortilla política allí.

En lo que se podría considerar una vista previa del futuro del voto latino con respecto al partido republicano, los asombrosos resultados en la tierra de Reagan movieron a Gustavo Arellano, periodista del LA Times, a escribir un artículo llamado, “Un obituario para el antiguo Condado de Orange, muerto a la edad de 129.”

Roberto Lovato

Roberto Lovato

Contributor

Roberto Lovato, a member of the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto, recently completed a 3-year commitment as a Visiting Scholar at U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Latino Research.

Archives

Categories

CONTACT: INFO@ETHNICMEDIASERVICES.ORG
(415) 533-0765; (415) 626-1650; (650) 248-9522 1663 Mission Street, Suite 310, San Francisco, CA 94103