Advocate For Tijuana Deportees Dies At 67

Credit: José Pedro Martinez, used with permission Above: Micaela Saucedo fought to improve the lives of deported migrants living in Tijuana.

Credit: José Pedro Martinez, used with permission
Above: Micaela Saucedo fought to improve the lives of deported migrants living in Tijuana.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
By Adrian Florido

Men and women who land in Tijuana after being deported from the U.S. lost a great friend this week.

Micaela Saucedo was one of the city’s most vocal advocates for that city’s vulnerable deportee population. She died Sept. 1 after a battle with cancer.

Saucedo was a founder and executive director of the Casa Refugio Elvira, which began in 2007 as a shelter for women and children who found themselves stranded in Tijuana after being deported from the U.S.

More recently, she moved her old 10-bed shelter into a larger building and began housing men, who make up most of the deportee population on the streets of Tijuana.

The idea for the shelter was sparked when a Mexican immigrant named Elvira Arellano left the Chicago church where for a year, she’d been seeking safe harbor from deportation. She traveled to Los Angeles, but was arrested there and deported to Tijuana.

It was Saucedo, a retired nurse and activist, who greeted Arellano at the border. The shelter ultimately bore Arellano’s first name.

As the shelter’s director, Saucedo tried to differentiate Casa Refugio Elvira from others. She placed no limit on how long people could stay, realizing it often takes much longer than a week or two for a recent deportee to figure out what to do next.

“She saw a wrong, and she tried to fix it right away,” said Enrique Morones, a border activist who worked with Saucedo and La Hermandad Mexicana, a pro-migrant nonprofit, to establish the shelter.
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Movie Review: Elysium


★★★ | Ben Kenigsberg

August 9, 2013 | ☄ 21 Print Page
In a summer of antiseptic effects spectacles, “Elysium” stands out for its grime and intensity, as well as the bluntness of its class allegory. The movie won’t win many points for originality or logic. But when the blockbuster competition wants only new ways to repackage Wolverine and Superman, it’s weirdly refreshing to watch a film that seeks new ways to repackage “Mad Max,” “Blade Runner,” “Robocop,” and elements from Kathryn Bigelow and David Cronenberg.

The film is set in 2154, when the planet has been ravaged by disease, pollution, and overpopulation. The wealthiest now live on a space station called Elysium, which can be seen in the clouds from Earth below. Max (Matt Damon) has grown up watching Elysium from his rundown, largely Latino L.A. neighborhood. A reformed car thief now working in a grueling factory job—he’s lucky to have it, he’s sneeringly informed—Max is trying to keep things together in a society openly rigged against the poor.

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Sin Pais (Without Country, award-winning student video)

sin pais

Winner of a Student Academy Award, Sin País (Without Country) explores one family’s complex and emotional journey involving deportation. A co-presentation with Latino Public Broadcasting.

watch the 20 minute video here:

more resources:

If you tune into PBS’s P.O.V. on Thursday (as you should), you will see Short Cuts, a collection of short films, including 3 animated shorts from StoryCorps and the Academy Award-nominated The Barber of Birmingham. You will also see a film that hits close to home: Sin País, the story of the Mejia family, a mixed-immigration status family in San Francisco, trying to stay together after the parents are deported back to Guatemala. The film started as a thesis project at Stanford and has already won a Student Academy Award. The young director of the film, Theo Rigby, lives in San Francisco. In July, Theo, who is, not surprisingly a really nice guy, invited me to his studio in Dogpatch to discuss the film and what drew him to explore the human side of the immigration debate.

When Theo entered Stanford’s film program in 2008, he was already interested in the lives of immigrants. As a documentary photographer, he had traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border and immersed himself in the culture, learning about mixed-status families and the liminal lives they lead there. Theo became deeply involved in the stories of the people he was photographing, even helping one woman and her daughter raise money to get out of jail when they were caught by Border Patrol. His connection with that family went from being scientific to personal and Theo says: “After that whole experience, all these immigration issues that we read about and see in the news, kind of like talking point issues, became super real.”
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Asians Now Largest Immigrant Group In Southern California

New Suburban Dream Born of Asia and Southern California, from the NYT

 A bridal shop window in the San Gabriel Valley.

A bridal shop window in the San Gabriel Valley.

Published: April 28, 2013

SAN MARINO, Calif. — Beneath the palm trees that line Huntington Drive, named for the railroad magnate who founded this Southern California city, hang signs to honor families who have helped sponsor the centennial celebration here this year. There are names like Dryden, Crowley and Telleen, families that have lived here for generations. But there are newer names as well: Sun, Koo and Shi.

asian map

A generation ago, whites made up roughly two-thirds of the population in this rarefied Los Angeles suburb, where most of the homes are worth well over $1 million. But Asians now make up over half of the population in San Marino, which has long attracted some of the region’s wealthiest families and was once home to the John Birch Society’s Western headquarters.

The transformation illustrates a drastic shift in California immigration trends over the last decade, one that can easily be seen all over the area: more than twice as many immigrants to the nation’s most populous state now come from Asia than from Latin America.
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BOOK REVIEW: Lament in the Night by Shoson Nagahara, from Hyphen Magazine

"Lament in the Night" by Shoson Nagahara (Kaya Press: 452 pp., $19.95 paper

“Lament in the Night” by Shoson Nagahara (Kaya Press: 452 pp., $19.95 paper

It’s 1920 in Los Angeles, and Japanese immigrants are spending another restive night trying not to die an ignoble death in a foreign country. Ishikawa Sakuzo, a Japanese immigrant lies, begs, and gambles in order to survive his “good-for-nothing” life in Japantown. Osato, a newly arrived Japanese bride, struggles to survive after her gambling-addicted husband Ryosaku runs out on her. She works nights in a bar and eventually owns her own establishment only to find herself remarried to a dying man.

Such are the lives of the two main figures in two lost (that is, overlooked) novels of Shoson Nagahara, which have been translated by Andrew Leong and reissued under the title Lament in the Night. Nagahara’s work focuses on the lives of those attempting to escape poverty, whether through get-quick rich schemes played out in gambling houses or mining camps, or the bone-aching labor exerted in restaurant kitchens, or as house servants. In Nagahara’s work, these bleak lives are not portrayed for sentimental value, but as part of the raw urban reality of 1920s Los Angeles.
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How Queer Undocumented Youth Built the Immigrant Rights Movement

How did we build an immigrant rights movement? As undocumented queer immigrants, we learned from our own experiences.

Frank Sharry’s latest opinion piece in The Washington Post extols the gay rights movement for teaching the immigrant rights movement how to fight, and in doing so, he places himself in the center of the movement as someone who has learned and used the tactics of the gay rights movement to win immigrant rights. This is a naive and inaccurate thesis, which marginalizes the work and existence of queer immigrants.

Queer undocumented youth have been at the forefront of fighting for immigrant rights for more than a decade. We learned to fight for our own spaces based on our experiences of exclusion from the country where we grew up, from our communities, and from both the mainstream LGBT and immigration reform movements.
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