immigration | KUOW News and Information


French security forces have started evicting the thousands of migrants living in a notorious camp known as "The Jungle" near the port of Calais.

Authorities intend to dismantle the squalid camp that, despite its poor living conditions, has housed thousands of people fleeing wars or poverty for a better life in Europe. Many hope to reach the U.K. — which lies just 26 miles away across the English Channel. Others are seeking asylum in France.

Rashid Abdi registers to vote for the first time
KUOW Photo/David Hyde

Amina Ahmed faces an uphill battle on a breezy Saturday morning in a neighborhood straddling Tukwila and SeaTac: She's running a voter registration drive.

Ahmed is up against power and influence in American politics. The wealthy have it. And they also vote at much higher rates.

Brent Harger of Washoe County, Nev., says he has always voted, but until this year, he'd never really gotten involved in politics.

"I've always been told my voice means nothing. I don't believe that," Harger says. "And there's a lot of people that are scared to even say anything today because they don't think their voice means anything."

Omar Ali with his family. Omar is standing fourth form the left holding his daughter.
Courtesy of Awal Ibrahim

Recently, my whole family got together to celebrate my sister’s graduation. Everyone was very excited.

But my family wasn’t always all together here in Seattle. My uncle Omar Ali is responsible for us being together at this exact moment.

Paige Parsons

Ross Reynolds interviews Arlie Hochschild, professor of sociology at the University of California Berkeley, about her new book, “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right", which has just been listed as a finalist for a 2016 National Book Award in Non-Fiction.

Hochschild spent five years among low income people in rural Louisiana in order to understand the conservative movement. 

Tu Tu - people from Burma don't have last names – at his cousin's two-bedroom apartment in Kent. His arrival upped the number of people living there to nine.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Tu Tu is his full name, because Burmese people don't use last names.

He is 20 when he arrives in Seattle. With his long bangs and torn jeans, he looks American.

It terrifies him that he can’t speak English. How will he get by if he can’t communicate? It’s a fear he pushes out of his mind. He’s not supposed to be a kid anymore.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman Friday introduced a proposal that would allow election officials to verify the citizenship of voters in the state. It comes in response to questions about whether the suspect in a recent shooting near Seattle voted legally.

Farmer Paul Sangha checks out blueberry plants on his farm. He is one of about 100 Sikh berry farmers in Whatcom County.
KUOW Photo/Sarah Eden Wallace

Two thirds of the raspberries grown in the U.S. come out of the soil in Whatcom County, Washington.  And chances are, the berries you ate this summer were grown by Sikh farmers there.

Paul Sangha learned the trade from his father. Sangha is one of nearly 100 East Indian Sikhs tilling the soil just south of the Canadian border. They’re adding their own centuries-old traditions of family farming – and transforming the region.

My dad's Cinderella story: Finding love in Somalia

Sep 28, 2016
Courtesy of Zubeyda Ahmed

My dad's life story is kind of like Cinderella’s. 

My dad, Abdul-Basit Hassan, grew up without a mom, worked for an evil relative and found his princess in the least expected way. 

The International Organization for Migration says more people are opting to voluntarily return to their home countries, rather than staying in host countries as migrants.

In a report released Friday, the IOM says it assisted more than 51,000 people leaving host countries, most of them leaving Europe, in the first six months of 2016. By comparison, the organization helped about 69,000 people in all of 2015.

A federal appeals court panel in Seattle has ruled that immigrant children under the threat of deportation may not sue the government for legal representation as part of a class action. The ruling is a significant setback for the legal rights of immigrant minors.

Osman Mohamed, of Somalia, and his three daughters, ages 2, 4 and 5. Osmon hoped to find paradise in Seattle, but in his first year, his family witnessed a shooting and he was hit by a car.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

For many refugees, the first year can feel like a race against the clock to set up a new life.

You get a little cash up front and a few months of help from a social worker.

Then, you’re mostly on your own.

Banda Vagas entertains the audience in Seattle's South Park Duwamish River Festival.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Only a whisper of a breeze drifts off the water on this scorching August afternoon, but temperatures in the 90s don’t wilt the South Park crowd.

Older couples, young parents with their children, even gum-cracking teenagers wait patiently in the shade for the main musical attraction of this year’s Duwamish River Festival: Banda Vagos, a Mexican big band that performs a traditional style of music known as banda.

The couple won't say why they left Iran.

Did something bad happen?

"Yes," Peiman Karimi, the husband, says. "Not me. To Neda.”

Neda Sharifi Khalafabadi says she doesn’t feel comfortable to talk about it because it would bring everything back. All she says is her case is religious. The rest is confidential.

The U.S. defines a refugee as someone with a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country. Iran is a majority Muslim country. Religious minorities face discrimination, surveillance and arrest.

“Sincerely, if I told you the truth, you cannot achieve or reach your aim if you don’t struggle. So now, I’m struggling.”

Those are the words of Osman Mohamed, a refugee from Somalia who settled in Washington this year with his wife and three children. He grapples with past trauma and with moving forward in a new country.

We followed Mohamed's story and also those of Tu Tu from Myanmar (Burma) and an Iranian couple, Peiman Karimi and Neda Sharifi Khalafabadi, for their first eight months in the U.S.