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One Journalist’s Journey ‘Home’ To Mexico And Other News You Need To Know

A slightly faded photo of a Latino man with glasses, smiling. holding a little boy with a jacket, red pants and brown hair. He is flanked by a smiling Latina with a bob haircut and a black jacket, and another man with dark hair and a faint mustache.
How To LA podcast host Brian De Los Santos as a little boy. He is held by his father and mother.
(Brian De Los Santos
LAist )
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For many of us, if we have a grandparent out of town who is sick, all we have to do is buy a plane ticket and visit them.

But for more than 800,000 people in the U.S., it’s simply not that easy if they have a family member who lives in another country.

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Brian De Los Santos' personal DACA story

I am talking about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA, recipients. These folks can’t just pick up and travel outside of the U.S. and be able to return lawfully. They must apply for something called advance parole.

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Essentially, they have to ask the government for permission to leave the U.S. for school or work or to visit family. It might be granted. It might not. And even if the letter arrives that says they can go, it’s not guaranteed that they can come back into the U.S.

My How to LA colleague Brian De Los Santos has embarked on this journey. Brian is one of 80,000 DACA recipients who live and work here in Southern California and he is returning to Mexico for the first time since he left at age 2. He plans to visit his grandmother and other family.

A young Latino man with glasses in Mexico City in front of the Angel de Independencia
The author Brian De Los Santos visiting Mexico City for the first time stands in front of Mexico City’s Angel de Independencia
(Brian De Los Santos
LAist )

I spoke to him and another colleague who is a DACA beneficiary, LAist social media producer Chris Farias, about their fragile status in the U.S. and their outlook 10 years after the creation of DACA. And today, in the latest podcast episode of How to LA, they share the significance of what it means to be able to go back to the place where they were born.

Here’s an excerpt from Brian’s essay about his special, personal trip to Mexico:

The letter came without warning: “This document authorizes a single departure from the United States on or after…”

The visit to my “home country” that I had been waiting for all my life is happening — actually currently as I type this. I’ll get to visit my abuelas, see where I grew up for my first two years and get those chilaquiles I’ve always dreamed of.

Maybe I’ll get a whiff of the same minty, earthy smell my abuela carried in her sweater when she arrived at LAX during her visits. I would always tell her, “Hueles a México,” and hug her to take it in. She would always laugh.

“Pues tú eres de allá, nadie te lo va quitar,” she’d remind me.

“You’re from there, no one can take that away from you.”

Read the rest of Brian’s essay here and listen to our special How To LA podcast episode where Brian chats with Chris and José Muñoz, deputy communications director for United We Dream, an organization that advocates on behalf of young undocumented immigrants. You will find additional resources if you — or someone you know — would like to pursue advance parole.

There are 168,000 DACA recipients in California and about half live here in Southern California. Chances are you have a friend or colleague who is DACA. They are doctors, lawyers, artists and students. And, of course, journalists.

But DACA is on shaky ground. Currently, nine Republican-led states are trying to block DACA protections. In February, senators announced legislation that could create a pathway to legal residency

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

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We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

More News

(After you stop hitting snooze)

  • The union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers says non-criminal complaints should be handled by unarmed responders. It put out a list of 28 radio calls it believes officers should not have to respond to, including loud parties, welfare checks and non-criminal mental health issues. 
  • Relief may come soon to Southern Californian diabetics who struggle  to pay for insulin. My colleague Jackie Fortiér wrote about why drugmaker Eli Lilly’s decision to cut the price of insulin nationwide could be a lifeline for many in our region who rely on this medication.  
  • Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in 13 counties, including Los Angeles and San Bernardino, where mountain-area residents and visitors have been snowed in since Monday.
  • We got a lot of snow at low elevations and now Mount Baldy Resort area will also remain closed until further notice, due to to debris and avalanche danger. 
  • California businesses and government agencies have been dumping toxic waste into Arizona and Utah landfills. Now state lawmakers have said they are planning an oversight hearing to address this issue. 
  • There’s a new theory from the U.S. Department of Energy about where the coronavirus came from. NPR’s Michaeleen Doucleff reported on this and why there still hasn’t been any consensus on the origin of SARS-CoV-2. 
  • Even though we have three weeks until springtime, it’s been a really cold, wet winter season for us Southern Californians. It can be challenging to get back outside. My colleague Jessica Ogilvie shared five tips on how you can get out of a gloomy rut. 
  • *Checks this weekend’s forecast* Whew! This weekend will surely be a better time to go outside than the last. If you’re a huge Prince fan like me, grab your favorite vintage shirt (or outfit) and check out The Purple Xperience: A Prince Tribute Friday at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. Attend the Rolling Loud Festival at the Hollywood Park Grounds (I see that Lil Wayne will be a special guest.). Or learn about hip shaker extraordinaire Shakira in Shakira, Shakira at the Grammy Museum. Here’s more events happening here.
  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

Wait... One More Thing

Are You Sensitive To Gluten? Here's Five Places You Can Try

A grey box containing an assortment of six different donuts, some with brown chocolate stripes, dark purple frosting and black and white, light brown, white and pink.
An assortment of donuts at fōnuts in Los Angeles.
(Brian Feinzimer
LAist )

When Melanie Lockert found out she had celiac disease, she went through a grieving process. Lockert said goodbye to her favorite foods in order to stay healthy. She had to change her whole diet because of her body’s reaction to gluten.

Lockert is one of more than 2 million Americans who are diagnosed with celiac disease and, according to John Hopkins Medicine, as many as 1 in every 133 Americans may be sensitive to gluten, which is a type of protein primarily found in wheat, rye and barley. This can make dining out with friends difficult — people who are gluten-sensitive often struggle to find food they can eat in most eateries.

Well, guess what, my friends? Lockert has a list of five places in L.A. you can try with great gluten-free options. Ever hear of a gluten-free churro? Well, you can try one 401k gluten-free Wine Bar + Eatery in Venice. If you LOVE bagels, you should check out Modern Bread and Bagel in the Woodland Hills. There’s more! Read Melanie’s article to get some recommendations for pancakes, donuts and Japanese food.

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