Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 28th
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Briefs: Carded by the Feds, Community Focus

Carded by the Feds

Immigration reform has taken a beating this year, and with the defeat of Eric Cantor in the Virginia GOP Senate primary, prognostications have turned even worse. In California, however, the biggest immigration battle right now isn’t even over policy—it’s purely cosmetic. Last month, federal officials rejected the design for licenses made possible by AB60—the California state assembly bill passed last year that grants special driver’s identification cards to undocumented immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security ruled that California’s design has the required language on the back of the card instead of the front—therefore, not in accordance with national standards—and that it looks too similar to the licenses of legal residents.

Assemblyman and former Watsonville mayor Luis Alejo presented AB60 to the State Assembly in 2013, and says that the initial language of AB60 did comply with the pre-existing federal requirements. But he tells GT he’s not surprised by the gridlock, since this is the first time Homeland Security has weighed in on a bill of this nature.

“We still disagree with [Homeland Security],” says Alejo.In looking at other states that have enacted similar legislation, Alejo maintains that AB60 was very clear on how to keep DP licenses distinct, while still avoiding problems feared by immigrant rights activists. Law enforcement officials would know the differences, he says, but they wouldn’t be so extreme that immigrants would be afraid of being discriminated against. Alejo is still optimistic; “I believe everything is still on track to start this program no later than January 1.”Anne-Marie Harrison

Community Focus

The colorful tiles that make up the new public mosaic at the Homeless Services Center (HSC) in Santa Cruz depict an array of fanciful and poignant images: smiley faces, a high-rise apartment building, birds and butterflies. Step back a few feet, and the 624 tiles that adorn the exterior wall of the Center’s Hygiene Bay lose their individuality, and are transformed into a glittering sunrise. Each of the tiles were made by local students, HSC staff and clients, while the sunrise design, symbolizing the promise of a new day, was submitted by a Center employee, said Kathleen Crocetti, county artist and middle school art teacher.

The 22 ft. x 7 ft. mosaic, along with a second smaller mosaic at the opposite end of the wall, is Crocetti’s 10th public art installation. You can find her mosaics locally at the Laurel Street and Water Street bridges, the Barson Stairs at Laurel Street Bridge and at Soquel Bridge over the San Lorenzo River. A large-scale mosaic with an agricultural motif is at the Corralitos Cultural Center. Since HSC funds can be used only for client services, Crocetti took to the online crowd-funding website Donors Choose, where 28 individuals gave $2,000 toward the project. Home Depot, Mission Tile, and Rinaldi Tile & Marble donated supplies. For her next public art project, Watsonville resident Crocetti is mulling something a bit more pedestrian: painting a traffic intersection with local students for National Night Out. “They do it in Portland!” she says. Roseann Hernandez

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