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May 30, 2012 | Steve Lopez
FRESNO - It was around 2 o'clock, temperatures rising under an arcing sun, when I met two workers on a peach farm near here recently. One had first entered the country illegally nearly 40 years ago but later became a U.S. citizen at a time when the process wasn't so difficult and politicized. He became a foreman, and he and his wife raised three children who went to California universities and got good jobs. The second worker, who was thinning peach trees, is here illegally from Mexico.
May 28, 2012 | By Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times
Rolando Zaragoza, 21, was 15 years old when he came to the United States, enrolled in an Oxnard school and first heard the term " Oaxaquita. " Little Oaxacan, it means - and it was not used kindly. "Sometimes I didn't want to go to school," he said. "Sometimes I stayed to fight. " "It kind of seemed that being from Oaxaca was something bad," said Israel Vasquez, 23, who shared the same mocking, "just the way people use ' Oaxaquita ' to refer to anyone who is short and has dark skin.
May 27, 2012 | Steve Lopez
DELANO, Calif. - "You'd think agriculture would have Republican politicians on our side, but on this issue we don't," Kevin Andrew was saying as we toured some grape fields north of Bakersfield, where farmworkers were thinning vines. Come harvest time, far more workers will be needed. And here's the problem, as Andrew sees it: There could be a looming labor shortage related to tight border security and other factors, including an improved Mexican economy. But GOP congressional reps, in particular, remain opposed to temporary legalized status and coming-and-going privileges for undocumented farmworkers.
May 23, 2012 | By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A 29-year-old farmworker was convicted Tuesday of the murder of South African white supremacist leader Eugene TerreBlanche, but his teenage companion was acquitted in the killing, which had sparked fears of racial violence. Chris Mahlangu was found guilty of killing TerreBlanche, his employer and longtime advocate of a separate state for white Afrikaners. Patrick Ndlovu, 18, who was 15 and present at the slaying, was found guilty of housebreaking with intent to steal.
May 20, 2012 | By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
Wearing jeans, green sneakers, a hipster straw bowler and a Buddhist symbol around his neck, the new poet laureate of California opened his weekly poetry workshop at UC Riverside with stretching and breathing exercises. "Let's detox our cluttered academic brain. That's what the poet does," said Juan Felipe Herrera, 63. "People call it daydreaming, detoxing our minds and taking care of that clutter. It's being able to let in call letters from the poetry universe. " Herrera then launched into poems by Federico García Lorca and other 20th century masters and had students recite their own compositions for group critiques.
May 16, 2012 | By Sandra Hernandez
The House GOP appears to have had a last-minute change of heart Wednesday, voting to restore some protections to a bill that helps victims of domestic abuse. Last week, the GOP-led Judiciary Committee approved a measure that called for changing the Violence Against Women Act, including eliminating protections for immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. Enacted in 1994, the act has been reauthorized twice with broad bipartisan support. The law allows an immigrant who is married to a U.S. citizen or green-card holder -- and therefore eligible to stay in the United States -- to file independently without having to rely on an abusive spouse.
October 10, 2011 | By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
The trial of two black farmworkers charged with killing South African white supremacist leader Eugene TerreBlanche opened Monday, underscoring the racial tensions that persist 17 years after democratic election laid apartheid to rest. As the trial began after months of delays, the two defendants pleaded not guilty. TerreBlanche, 69, was found beaten to death on his farm last year. Prosecutor George Baloyi told the court the pair found TerreBlanche asleep on his bed and beat him to death with a steel pipe in a dispute over wages.
October 1, 2011 | Patt Morrison
Here's a Hollywood pitch for you: Leading U.S. neurosurgeon started life as a struggling Mexican boy who made it from illegal-immigrant California farmworker to Harvard Med. Not buying it? You should. Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa was that kid and is that man -- associate prof, surgeon and head of the brain tumor stem cell lab at Johns Hopkins. His work puts him, passionately, on the cutting-edge of brain cancer research, and his life wedges him, reluctantly, into the immigration quarrel.
September 16, 2011 | By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times
Cesar E. Chavez's California retreat has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the designation of the site in the Tehachapi Mountains where the labor leader lived and led the farmworkers movement the last 22 years of his life. Salazar, who called Chavez "one of the heroes of the 20th century," made the announcement at a gathering of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington on Wednesday night. The 187-acre Nuestra Senora Reina de La Paz in Keene, southeast of Bakersfield, served as headquarters of the United Farm Workers union and Chavez's residence from 1971 to 1993.
September 14, 2011 | By Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Buttonwillow, Calif. -- At noon, when the morning breeze had faded and the temperature hit 95, a union representative walked into the sweltering field to check on dozens of farmworkers harvesting peppers. A middle-aged worker with a T-shirt placed under his cap to absorb sweat approached, whispering: "No hay sombra" (there is no shade). Only after the union man appeared did two foremen pull canopies out of their trucks and call the workers in for a break.
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