Liz Jones | KUOW News and Information

Liz Jones


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

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 /

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.

Liz Jones / KUOW

The countdown is on. At 12:01 on December 6, King County will start handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Hundreds are expected to show up for this historic, once-in-a-lifetime event. County staffers are working around the clock to pull off an unprecedented, all-night operation.

A Very Long Engagement

Dec 4, 2012
Liz Jones / KUOW

What’s the opposite of a shotgun wedding? Try a 15-year engagement.  Seattle couple Kate Schubert and Liz Newman joke they’ve waited that long for the right to get married in their home state.  The wait is almost over. On December 6, same-sex marriage will be legal in Washington.  Now, Kate and Liz are eager to take the next step.

Maybe you’ve heard of the car-sharing service, Zipcar. It’s like a club where members can borrow cars for a set fee. On Monday, the Seattle City Council is expected to approve another similar car-sharing service to launch in the city next year.

erin m / Flickr

On the first day same-sex couples can get married in Washington state, Seattle City Hall will serve as a wedding chapel.   Mayor Mike McGinn's office is playing the role of planner. On Monday, it posted the itinerary for a historic wedding ceremony on Dec. 9.


Seattle city officials will soon begin sifting through applications for police watchdogs.  Last month, the city put out a call for citizens to serve on a new community police commission.  It’s being created as part of an agreement with the US Department of Justice  to reform the Seattle Police Department.

Gus Melonas / BNSF

People who ride the train between Everett and Seattle got a familiar taste of winter this week. Due to mudslides, Amtrak and Sound Transit canceled service on that route until at least Wednesday.

Darcyandkat / Flickr

King County plans to pull an all-nighter on the first day marriage licenses are available to same-sex couples under Washington state law. On Thursday, Dec. 6, at 12:01 a.m., the county is scheduled to open its licensing office in downtown Seattle.

Felicitas Flores and her daughter Claudia
Liz Jones / KUOW

Immigrants and advocates rallied in Seattle today to highlight their priority for the President Obama’s second term:  comprehensive immigration reform.

Catrena Hampton / KUOW

Supporters of same-sex marriage in Washington are celebrating victory. The campaign to approve Referendum 74, Washington United for Marriage, says it's now confident their four-point lead will hold.

Flickr Photo/prensa4 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Audio Pending...

Correction:  In the original story Steve Sarich was referred to as an attorney.  He is not an attorney but a medical marijuana consultant and an opponent of I-502.

Hold off on that trip to Amsterdam. It appears recreational marijuana will soon be legal for adults in Washington, at least under state law.

The mood was jubilant at the official I-502 party at the Hotel Andra in downtown Seattle. In attendance was Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, a primary backer of the measure. He says this law change is about good government.

Dey / Flickr

Marijuana legalization and same-sex marriage are hot-button issues on the Washington ballot. Even after the measures are decided, the debate will likely continue and changes won't happen overnight.

Darcyandkat / Flickr

The latest TV ad from same-sex marriage opponents in Washington focuses on school children, warning “schools could teach that boys could marry boys.”

The ad mirrors those that ran in other states when gay marriage came up for a vote, notably when Prop 8 was on California’s 2008 ballot. Campaign strategists on both sides agree the “schools ad" has been a game changer.

ballot drop box ballot box
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Procrastinators. That’s how a lot people described themselves while waiting in line Monday for voter registration. It was the final deadline for Washington residents to register for the Nov. 6 election. Hopeful voters had to fill out the paperwork in person since the deadline had already passed to register by mail or online.

Boeing Company

After months of stalemate, Boeing and its engineering union say contract talks have taken a positive turn. In fact, both parties sent out identical statements Thursday saying talks are “productive.”

AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey

President Obama is formally throwing his support to Referendum 74, which asks Washington voters to decide on same-sex marriage.

Tacoma resident Jason Puracal says his fight against the Nicaraguan justice system is still not over. Puracal was recently exonerated of drug charges in Nicaragua and returned to the Northwest. Now, Nicaraguan prosecutors are appealing his case to that country’s high court.

Jason Puracal arrived in Nicaragua about a decade ago as a Peace Corps volunteer. He left there last month from a maximum security prison. He was serving a 22-year sentence following a conviction for drug trafficking and money laundering. He was freed in September after winning an appeal.

Boy Scout badges
Flickr Photo/rocket ship (CC BY-NC-ND)

A court-ordered release of the Boy Scout’s so-called “perversion files” lists 25 men in Washington state.  The complete files identify more than 1,200 Scout volunteers who were accused of child abuse and banned from the organization. These once-secret documents give the pubic an unprecedented look inside the scouting organization.

Liz Jones/KUOW

Washington is one of four states that will vote on same-sex marriage in just a few weeks. History is on the line, as one of these states could be the first to approve gay marriage by a vote of the people. The campaigns on both sides are intensifying efforts to connect with voters but there’s a stark contrast in their strategies.

Here, gay marriage opponents have set up their campaign headquarters in a quiet strip mall just off I-5 in Lynnwood. Their office is tucked in next to a hair salon, a dry cleaners and a chain pizza restaurant.

Mailer about Referendum 74
(Photo/Liz Jones)

Some senior citizens in Washington recently got a flyer in the mail from same-sex marriage supporters. It says approval of Referendum 74 will preserve domestic partnerships for seniors. Gay marriage opponents call the ad a misleading scare tactic.

The campaign backing same-sex marriage paid for the mailer. It’s targeting seniors because Referendum 74 touches on domestic partnerships between straight couples who are are 62 or older and living together.

Flickr/Bellevue Fine Art Repro

Applications are now available to serve on Seattle’s new, court-ordered Community Police Commission. This citizen oversight board is part of the city’s agreement with the Department of Justice about police reforms.

This is not exactly a new idea. Seattle’s created civilian panels in the past to monitor police and propose changes. But City Council Member Nick Licata says this new one has a key difference.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

People who ride the bus around Seattle are adjusting to major service changes this week. One huge shift is the end of the ride-free zone downtown.

In its place, the city’s paying for a free shuttle to help low-income people get around.  It runs in a loop downtown Seattle to seven stops near services for homeless and low-income people.

Derek Mitchell got on after his appointment at the WorkSource employment office. “It’s convenient," he says. "It’s very comfortable — a little lightweight jazz in the background. I love it.”