Immigration Reform

As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.

Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.

Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

The Obama administration is implementing changes — voted into law by Congress late last year — that tighten the visa waiver program, specifically targeting Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. But the administration is reserving the right to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

The Supreme Court of the United States has decided to review a challenge to President Obama's executive actions on immigration.

As we've reported, back in November 2014, Obama announced plans to shield from deportation up to 5 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Even before his plans got off the ground, lower courts put them on hold.

Seattle resident Ignacio Lanuza
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

A former government attorney in Seattle pleaded guilty Friday to falsifying documents in a deportation case. KUOW’s race and culture reporter Liz Jones has been following this lawsuit.

Trinidad Vidal says fears of deportation have weighed on her for 22 years.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Immigrant advocates have scheduled several workshops in the Seattle area due to concerns about immigration raids. It comes on the heels of a federal operation to deport families from Central America.

During World War II, thousands of Americans lied about their age to enlist in the military. During the Iraq war, Daniel Torres lied about something else.

"I didn't want to be just another Mexican living in the U.S. I wanted to say I'd done something for the country," said Torres.

The United States is planning an operation to deport recently arrived Central American families who have ignored removal orders from immigration judges, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the plan.

The operation would at least in part affect Central Americans who fled violence in their home countries but were denied asylum in the United States.

Ranj Abudlsamad in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

Bill Radke speaks with Ranj Abdulsamad about coming to Seattle as a refugee in 2012 and how he now helps other refugees adjust to live in America. 

Woody Auge and Irv Friese, the original Chubby and Tubby.
Rainier Valley Historical Society

Chubby and Tubby started selling goods out of a metal hut in 1946 in Seattle’s Rainier Valley.

Low overhead costs helped the business owners get started. Later, they built a store on an old landfill on Rainier Avenue South.

This Iranian refugee family was resettled in Kent this year. It's their first Christmas in the U.S.
KUOW photo/Liz Jones

Princess dolls, race cars and bicycles with training wheels. Those are a few of the gifts handed out to hundreds of families in Kent this week. Many were immigrants and refugees, and for some it will be their first Christmas here in the U.S.

The national debate about whether or not to welcome refugees from the war-torn Middle East was hashed out again in Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate. In Twin Falls, Idaho, conservative activists are not just talking about the issue, they're taking action.

Mario, an 18-year-old refugee from Eritrea, outside his host home in Burien. Mario and his siblings each picked out a bike of their own, thanks to a donation to World Relief.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

A pot of lentils simmers in the kitchen of an upscale home in Burien. Two teen brothers and their two younger sisters keep watch.

They’re Eritrean refugees, part of a family of nine staying with Carleen Kennedy. Kennedy has opened her home to refugees since 1975.

The Obama administration has announced some changes to the visa waiver program, which allows travelers from some 38 countries including France, Belgium and other European countries, to come to the U.S. without a visa.

The White House announced several steps, including attempting better tracking of past travel, fines for airlines that don't verify passport data, assisting other countries on the screening of refugees and with border security.

'Tribal fishing below Horn Rapids Dam'
Flickr Photo/Scott Butner (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1Of6aXq

Bill Radke speaks with Maria Hinojosa, host of NPR's Latino USA, about the recent episode "Reservations," which features the Yakama Nation in Eastern Washington. Yakama tribal members there are now outnumbered three to one by Latino immigrants. Hinojosa said the increasing number of Mexican farm workers are pushing the tribe toward an existential crisis.  

Latino USA airs on KUOW Tuesdays from 11 p.m. to midnight. 

Syrian refugees Yazan Al-Salkini, 19, center, and brother Nabil, 14, left, hand out water to the homeless in downtown Seattle.
KUOW photo/Liz Jones

The debate about resettling Syrian refugees has some people asking, “Why don’t we use that money on homeless veterans instead?”

We asked homeless veterans in downtown Seattle what they thought.

Ezra Stoller.

Mayor David Bowers of Roanoke, Virginia, doesn't want any Syrians resettled in his community. He suggested US officials draw inspiration for how to deal with Syrians from how Japanese Americans were treated during World War II. He even lauded the internment camps many Japanese Americans were confined to during the war.

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