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Union-Tribune Documents Stories Of Immigrants In San Diego County

The San Diego Union-Tribune
A screenshot of The San Diego Union-Tribune's collage of photos submitted by San Diego immigrants.
Union-Tribune Documents Stories Of Immigrants In San Diego County
Union-Tribune Documents Stories Of Immigrants In San Diego County GUEST: Luis Cruz, video content director, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Immigration is a subject argued about defended and campaigned on. But how much do we really know about it. The San Diego Union Tribune has put together a multimedia project called our immigrant story. It tracks immigration in San Diego by the years the numbers and the personal stories of 60 immigrants who call our region home. Joining me is Luis Cruz video content director at the San Diego Union Tribune. Luis welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. How did the idea of this project develop. The project actually began with our arts editor Michael Roach who wanted to talk about the arts through the immigrant experience for the fall arts preview. Then our publisher Jeff flight decided why don't we talk about immigration on a grander scale. We always cover illegal immigration. We pretty much on a daily basis especially with President Trump and the emphasis on the border wall. So we started having a deeper conversation and talking about why don't we focus on the positive contributions that legal immigrants make here to our community. And so that's how the project began. What can you tell us about the history of immigration patterns in San Diego County. We hear a lot about waves of immigrants from one nation or another have immigrants always arrived here in waves. Well just to give you a brief snapshot of immigration Mexicans who have been living here were granted citizenship after the Mexican American War and the Treaty of Waterloo open 1848 when the U.S. annexed 25000 square miles. There have been times where Mexicans have been invited to actually work in the U.S. during times of war and that there has been a labor shortage. So they need the labor force. Filipinos began arriving in large numbers in the late 1400's and eventually established a pipeline through the U.S. Navy and then waves of call audience came from Iraq in the 1960s then a decade later Vietnamese came here as refugees after the war ended. And then more recently we've seen Somalis Eritreans and people from other parts of Africa come here as well in recent years. Are most of our immigrants from Mexico. Yes. So we looked at the data and nearly 800000 immigrants called San Diego home. That's according to the most recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. The largest share is 44 percent of those were born in Mexico. Twelve percent were born in the Philippines five percent come from China and another 5 percent come from Vietnam. Well as part of the interviews that you did with people who are immigrants in San Diego you interviewed many high achieving immigrants like UC San Diego's President Prade Costilla from India. Immigration attorney does say Garcia of Mexico who happens to be suing the Trump administration over its plan to end Dokka in those interviews did you hear any common themes about why people keep coming to America. Yeah the common themes everybody comes here for opportunity for education. They want to feel safe. They want to they want a better future for their children. And so one thing that struck me is that people come from all over the world and they see America as that common place where they can attain all of those things. Did you also find that many immigrants in San Diego are still living in the shadows. So about 20 percent of the county's foreign born residents are undocumented. Thats more than a hundred and sixty three thousand people for our project. Of course it was I did not specifically ask people about their immigration status. Once we got into the conversation when they came in for the project then the subject did come up. So for example the dreamers the the students that received that are Dokka recipients. I actually did not know that they were Dokka recipients until they came forward with that information once we were doing the project and I was interviewing them. Now I understand you have your own immigrant story. Can you share it with us. Yes. Thank you for asking actually I was born in San Francisco. But shortly after I was born my parents moved back to Mexico and so I actually started school in Mexico. And then when I was about five years old my parents moved back to Mexico and I caught the tail end of kindergarten. And I remember doing a math test and I had to write out the alphabet but I did not know English and I thought the I thought the whole world spoke Spanish. So I was a huge culture shock and I think for the first five years of school I was a very quiet kid. I was still traumatized by having to learn a new language not understanding so much what was going on. But then as I got older I became the interpreter for my parents. And you know my dad was a janitor for 40 years before he retired. My mom was a cook before I came along they raised my three older brothers and I in a small studio apartment in San Francisco. And I mean you talk about the immigrant story. I went on to UC Berkeley. I went on to have a career in television at the age of 17. I've won four regional Emmys and now I'm giving the news in English. So once again as cliche as it sounds only in America now where can people read and hear more immigrant stories. You said they'd be online. But isn't there. Do you have an association with the new American Museum as well. That's right. So people can read our stories and view the videos on San Diego Union Tribune dot com slash immigrants and there also be a special display at the New Americans museum and that'll be from October 19th through February 3rd. Also like to thank the folks over at the New Americans museum they provided us with some leads for for our series. They were very helpful. Also like to thank the folks over at as well as the Mexican Council and various community groups. And of course our creative director Beto Alvarez created this nice presentation online. And Lauren Flynn added it all 76 videos. I've been speaking with Luis Cruz a video content director at the San Diego Union Tribune who most recently worked on the multimedia our immigrants Stories Project. Louise thank you so much. Thank you for the opportunity.

San Diego County is home to nearly 800,000 foreign-born residents, according to the most recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. Immigrants in San Diego come from all over the world and have become part of an integral part of the region.

As part of a new multi-media project, The San Diego Union-Tribune has documented the personal stories of 60 immigrants who call San Diego County home. Through a series of videos and audio stories, immigrants open up about everything from the journey they took to get here, to their struggles and successes.


Luis Cruz, video content director at the Union-Tribune, discusses the project and shares his own immigrant story, Wednesday on Midday Edition.