Liz Jones | KUOW News and Information

Liz Jones

Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2006

Liz reports on immigration and emerging communities for KUOW. Her work covers issues within our region’s growing immigrant and refugee populations, as well as stories connected to minority groups with a longer history in the area.

She comes to KUOW after several years at an online news startup, which was later bought by Oxygen Media in New York.  Her last position there was health editor for the network’s website.

Liz has also lived in Spain and Peru and speaks Spanish. She is a graduate of the University of Washington, with a degree in communications.

Liz’s work for KUOW has taken her to Mexico and India. Both those reporting trips produced award-winning documentaries. In 2009, Liz received a regional Murrow award for a documentary about indigenous Mexicans who migrate to the Seattle area. In 2014, she won a national Gracie award and RTNDA’s Kaleidoscope Award for a series that focused on immigration-related links between India and the Puget Sound region.

Her work has also been heard on national shows including NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now, PRI's The World, Latino USA, Marketplace, The Takeaway and BBC News Service.  

Ways to Connect

Liz Jones / KUOW

The mood was upbeat Wednesday afternoon as supporters of immigration reform gathered in Seattle for a press conference. Students, union workers and immigrant advocates cheered the long-awaited arrival of a proposed bill in Congress. But many at the event also voiced mixed feelings about a few things the bill includes and a few things it leaves out.

USCIS

Attorneys with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle say they’ve reached agreement with federal officials on a nationwide class action lawsuit.  The case was filed on behalf of immigrants requesting asylum in the US who say they face persecution or harm in their home countries. The settlement aims to speed up the process for asylum seekers to get a work permit.

Liz Jones / KUOW

Supporters of immigration reform call the outside of the Federal Building in downtown Seattle their patio. That’s because they’ve gathered here so many times in the past decade to push for an overhaul to the country’s immigration system, including a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants who are in  the US illegally.

Flickr Photo/Dave Herholz

Supporters of a bill dubbed the Washington Dream Act plan to make one more uphill push in Olympia Tuesday. The measure would extend state financial aid to eligible college students who are in the US illegally. Hopes for the bill dwindled this weekend as a key state senator spoke out against the measure.

Liz Jones / KUOW

A new mega-hotel proposed for downtown Seattle aims to draw more big conventions to the city. The developer posted its official public notice with the city Thursday, as a first step in the approval process. The proposal is to build a 43-story tower on the block that’s currently home to the Greyhound bus station.

King County Jail in downtown Seattle.
King County Photo

If you’re booked into a King County jail, you’ll stay an extra month on average if immigration officials want to review your file. That’s even if you haven’t been charged with a crime.

Courtesy Photo

At the Duwamish Longhouse in West Seattle, Cecile Hansen traces her finger down a plaque of names. “Look at all our leaders, starting with the chief here,” Hansen says.

Immigrant restaurant workers
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Next time you go out for a nice dinner, give a listen near the restaurant’s kitchen. Amid the bustle, there’s a decent chance you’ll hear chefs, cooks or dishwashers speaking Spanish.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Seattle schoolteacher Sandra Aguila became a US citizen through the last major immigration reform bill, which President Ronald Reagan signed in 1986. Aguila had arrived in the US one year earlier at age 25. She spoke almost no English. “I could only say ‘good morning,’” she laughs.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

On a recent night at El Centro de la Raza, in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, undocumented workers show up with folders of paperwork. They’ve come to this Latino-focused non-profit to get help with their tax returns.

Flickr/Common Language Project

Sequestration has apparently led to a “get out of jail free” card for some detainees at an immigration lockup in Tacoma.

Flickr Photo/rwoan

The Seattle Sonics' basketball season is penciled-in at Key Arena for next year. During a Seattle City Council briefing Monday, city officials said game days have been set aside at Key Arena starting in November.  

A campaign is mounting to switch up how Seattle City Council members are elected. Currently, members can live in any part of the city and their job is to represent the whole of Seattle. A campaign called Seattle Districts Now aims to divide the city into seven smaller districts with a council seat based in each one. Voters in each district would then elect a council member to represent their specific neighborhoods and interests.

Liz Jones / KUOW

If you want to marry someone from another country, and you’re a US citizen, chances are your spouse could also gain citizenship through marriage. That is, if the marriage is between a man and a woman.  This path to citizenship is not available to gay couples because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Next month, the US Supreme Court is set to hear a challenge to this federal law. It’s a case Seattle resident Otts Bolisay is anxious to watch unfold.

Seattle Housing Authority

Watch out for scammers. That’s Seattle Housing Authority’s warning to people who are going online this week to apply for the city’s Section 8 housing lottery.  Agency officials caution that some misleading sites have been set up to  trick people into submitting their personal information to the wrong place.

wisetechcolleges / Flickr

On Wednesday, hundreds of immigrants and advocates plan to gather in Olympia to lay out their priorities for lawmakers. One top issue is called the Washington Dream Act, which state Senator Ed Murray, D-Seattle, introduced today. Under the measure, undocumented college students would become eligible for state financial aid.

A proposed bill in Olympia aims to crack down on employers who shortchange their workers. The measure would create harsher penalties for business that skimp on minimum wage, overtime pay, or just flat out fail to hand over a paycheck.

This type of  underpayment is often referred to as “wage theft.” Advocates of the bill, HB 1440, say the victims of wage theft tend to be low-income workers and undocumented immigrants.

Shannon Dininny, File / AP Photo

This week, something new is sprouting in the Northwest’s fields and fruit orchards: optimism about immigration reform.

Ed Yourdon / Flickr

In the pre-dawn hours this Friday, hundreds of volunteers will fan out across King County to look for people sleeping in alleys, parks, shopping centers and city busses. The effort  is part of the county’s annual One Night Count, which aims to get an annual head-count of people who are homeless.

A view from inside a Boeing factory
Courtesy of Boeing

Outside the Boeing plant in Everett, newly assembled 787s sit ready for delivery. The lineup includes new planes for LOT Polish Airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.  Inside, the production line rolls on despite this week’s setbacks for the company’s newest jetliner. Dreamliner number 94 stands at the front of the line. It’s an order for Thomson Airways, which is set to be the first British airline to fly the Dreamliner.

Clark County, WA

Some lawmakers in Olympia want to make the Department of Licensing an immigration checkpoint.
A proposed bill would require people to prove they are lawfully in the United States in order to get a driver’s license.

myJon / Flickr

Do people vote based on race? That’s a question the Washington Legislature will likely tackle this session, as supporters of a state Voting Rights Act prepare to push the measure again this year. The law would aim to strengthen minority representation in places with a large population of Latinos or other racial group.

Sheri Collins and her dog
Liz Jones

On Sunday nights, you can find Graham Pruss under the Ballard Bridge, serving up a hot meal. A recent menu included ham and potato soup, locally baked bread and apple cobbler. He calls this weekly dinner a bridge to connect with people who live in their cars. They’re often referred to as car campers or mobile homeless, but Pruss prefers the term, vehicle residents.

Pruss is one of many homeless advocates who’s pushed Seattle to provide more services to this group of people. In response, last year the city launched the “safe parking” program, which opens up church lots where people can park and connect to housing services. The pilot program is modestly increasing this year, in a step toward what advocates hope will be a citywide expansion. 

Washington DOL

In 2012 the Washington state Legislature passed a law that sponsors called the “driving while poor” bill. The law aims to help people who end up with suspended licenses because they failed to pay traffic tickets.

sarah sosiak / Flickr

Immigrant advocates are cheering a change in federal policy. New guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security offer a small break to people who entered the country illegally and now have a spouse or child who is a US citizen.

Liz Jones / KUOW

People who earn minimum wage in Washington state are about to get a small raise.  On New Year’s Day, the hourly rate increases by 15 cents to total $9.19.

Washington’s minimum wage is higher than any other state. But studies show it’s still far below the minimum cost of living here.

Liz Jones / KUOW

To many people, the holidays are about family tradition. Tradition is what brings Barry Ford and his wife, Shirley Babilya, to Seattle every December. They drive their RV across country from Iowa to do a job they love in the town where Ford grew up.

This year, the couple is 1,849 miles apart. Shirley is home in Iowa recovering from a heart attack and Barry is on his own in Seattle this season. When some Seattle neighbors found out, they stepped in to help fill the void.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection / cpb.gov

When a police officer needs to question someone in Spanish, or any other language, they can no longer use US Border Patrol agents as interpreters. This change in federal policy comes after a group of attorneys and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) in Seattle filed a complaint earlier this year. 

Married At Last

Dec 9, 2012
Michael Clinard

Wedding bells rang throughout Washington state Sunday as hundreds of same-sex couples said “I do.” December 9 was the first day gay couples could legally marry here, after voters upheld the state’s marriage equality law in the November election.

Liz Jones / KUOW

Gay and lesbian couples across Washington woke up to a new reality today: Same-sex marriage is now legal in this state. Hundreds of couples lined up in downtown Seattle Wednesday night to be among the first to receive marriage licenses. The honor of “first couple” went to Jane Abbott Lightly and Pete-e Peterson, ages 77 and 85.

“I never thought this day would come, but here it is," said Peterson. After 35 years together, Lightly and Peterson plan to make it an official marriage this Sunday.

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