Amnesty prospects: Where do they come from, and where do they live?

IMPERIAL, Calif.—The first day of Senate debate on immigration reform ended in Washington today with several proposed changes accepted and several tossed by the 18-member committee poring over the merits of the almost 900-page S. 744, the proposed ‘‘Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.’’

The bill would offer conditional amnesty and a path to citizenship to an estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S., among other provisions, all of which will require months of debate and amending before adoption. In the meantime, fundamental questions like where those millions of people come from and where they live in America beg some answers. Statistics in the following video come from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Public Policy Institute of California.

The “Caveman diet” is catching on among health-conscious gym enthusiasts

IMPERIAL, Calif.–Brittany Weiderman doesn’t look like a caveman, but she sure eats like one.  This five-foot tall, 115-pound beauty gets her muscle by push-pressing nearly half her weight and following one of the latest popular diets, the Paleo. “Going Paleo helped everything from my mood to my digestive system. I really noticed a difference in how I felt in a matter of days,” the 25-year-old El Centro hair stylist said. “I’ve had less bloating and more energy that lasts throughout the day instead of just spurts of energy.”

Weiderman converted to the Paleo lifestyle, which is gaining popularity like the previous fads such as the Atkins or South Beach diets.  Paleo has become famous all over the map, even in the Imperial Valley. The Paleolithic diet, also known as the Caveman diet, gets its name from the idea that our bodies are made to digest foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed.  The paleolithic era was before the agricultural revolution, which proponents claim caused “diseases of civilization,” such as obesity, hypertension, and inflammatory diseases.

Calexico native wins prestigious prize to study credit dependency among recent immigrants

IMPERIAL VALLEY, Calif. – Calexico native and former Imperial Valley College student Luis Flores has been awarded the Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate prize to pursue a hands-on solution to educating new immigrants to the U.S. about credit dependency. The $25,000 Stronach award will fund Flores’s “El Valle y la Recesion” project, a visual documentary that will focus on illustrating the difficulties Imperial Valley residents, mainly recent immigrants, struggle with when faced with credit and mortgage decisions. “Rather than blaming immigrants for borrowing too much [money], or for not being educated enough, I want to suggest that there were larger forces compelling immigrants to live a life of credit dependency,” said Flores.  “This project wants to show that the typical explanations of the recession in the region are limited, because they do not look at the history of economic policies in both the Mexicali and Imperial valleys since the 1980s.”

The ultimate result of “El Valle y la Recesion” is to develop an educational and service website, and possibly a bricks-and-mortar service, that will aid border consumers in credit decisions, something that does not exist at this time. Flores, 22, a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with undergraduate degrees in political economy and history, will return to Calexico in August to start his project, which he envisions as a collaboration with IVC, San Diego State University Imperial Valley campus, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California in Mexicali, and the University of Texas El Paso’s student journalism website Borderzine.com.

Winning customer service rep on four legs inspires animal rescue and adoption

EL CENTRO, Calif.–Sitting in the window of Dobson’s Antiques here, a six-year-old basset hound-dachshund mix named Lulu is the target of smiles from onlookers and customers as they walk down Main Street. Little do they know how much time, money, and most of all love, that it took for her owner, Cathy Dobson, to rescue Lulu along with approximately 100 other stray and abused dogs she has rescued in the past 20 years. Saving forsaken pets started when she was living in Los Angeles.  “I found a dog lying in the trash can that was only a couple hours old. And that was my first rescue,” Dobson said. She nursed the puppy to health and after a few months found it a home.

Imperial Valley College On Immigration

IMPERIAL, Calif.– With Congress drafting out a concrete plan for immigration reform, students and staff at Imperial Valley College shared their opinions on the matter. About 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. who entered illegally could be offered amnesty and a path to citizenship.

Child-abuse prevention month celebrated in Imperial Valley

EL CENTRO, Calif.–An estimated 15,000 people packed Bucklin Park throughout the day on Saturday April 13, to celebrate Child Abuse Prevention Month at the 34th Annual Children’s Fair. “We hope that families were able to enjoy a beautiful day outside with their children and learn about the resources available to strengthen their families in Imperial County,” said Yvette Garcia, executive director of the Imperial County Child Abuse Prevention Council, the organization that co-sponsored the event with the Imperial County Office of Education. More than 70 businesses and organizations helped entertain and inform attendees young and old alike. Imperial Valley College journalism students spent the day recording the festivities. The following slideshow is a compilation of their work.

Former MLB player gives back to Imperial Valley

IMPERIAL, Calif.- After playing 24 years of professional baseball for nine different teams and 13 major organizations and being a 2008 World Series champion for the Philadelphia Phillies, Imperial Valley native Rudy Seanez returned to his home to help inspire young and old alike. “I’ve always lived here. This is home. I grew up in Brawley. My family is here, so that was factor number one,” said Seanez in an interview at his Seanez Sports Academy.

Xeriscaping at Imperial Valley College

IMPERIAL, Calif.—Imperial Valley College had a growth spurt in the last three years with a techno-new science building, expanded parking facilities, updated classrooms, and water-friendly landscaping. While the science building is impressive, parking is now abundant, and learning in 21st century classrooms is a reality, it’s the often-overlooked things like one small, bright desert flower, a lush green lawn, or a 40-foot tree providing relief from the heat that might help to nurture pride and performance in study-weary students, faculty and staff. With this facelift came the new philosophy of landscaping the campus with a more “green-friendly,” energy-efficient technology—xeriscaping. Here is a closer look:

The real assets in Calexico High’s ASSETs program

CALEXICO, Calif.–Jovan Rojas had a lot of trouble making friends on his high school campus. For a lot of adolescents, painful insecurities can be a repellant to their peers. “I was not very mature and had problems socializing with anyone,” said Rojas, now 18 and a senior at Calexico High School. “After joining the program I have felt improvement in myself and I am told from tutors that I have improved a lot.”

That program, the After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens, or ASSETs, a grant-based project provided under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and administered by California’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, was launched at Calexico High in February 2010 with a five-year $1.5 million grant. ASSETs is aimed at involving latchkey kids, or at-risk teens who have no place to go and nothing to do when that final school bell rings for the day.

Stemming the strays through Imperial Valley’s S.A.N.D.S.

IMPERIAL VALLEY, Calif.–It is difficult to commute from town to town here without encountering any number of dead animals on or near the roadway on any given day; some motorists swerve around the remains, others seem to deliberately aim at the already-decimated animals—dead pigeons on city streets, rabbits or coyotes on rural roads, and countless other carcasses on the I-8 freeway heading east and west between Arizona and San Diego. But most of the time, the heart-wrenching sight of small furry victims on any local street or major byway are stray dogs or cats whose owners might, or might not be wondering where their pets have gone. “From June to November, 500 dogs were picked up (both alive and dead), 169 cats (both alive and dead),” according to Beatrice Palacio, animal control supervisor for the Imperial County Public Health Department, which is charged with policing a 4,500-square-mile realm outside of the county’s cities’ limits. “Live roosters and chickens, dead raccoons, dead skunks, coyotes, and a live sheep, for a total of 707 animals.” And that’s only what Palacio has been able to log in a five-month period of 2012, unknowing if the animals were abandoned, lost, or feral. Holiday generosity and a bad economy

Usually this time of year animal rights organizations often use statistics like those about stray animals to illustrate to holiday revelers how ill-advised impulsive buys of pets as Christmas gifts can be for recipients who may or may not want a furry or feathered friend; who may or may not know how to care for them, or cannot afford to.