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.

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Path To Citizenship
6:15 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

What Have We Learned From Past Immigration Reform?

Kindergarten teacher Sandra Aguila works on math skills with a Vietnamese student.
Credit 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.

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Undocumented Taxpayers
2:05 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

No Citizenship? No Problem For IRS

Eva Rubio-Reboca helps undocumented workers file tax returns at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle.
Credit 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.

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Surprise Release Date
12:54 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Sequester Frees Immigrants From Tacoma Detention Center

Holding cell at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.
Credit 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.

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Marriage And Citizenship
7:42 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Gay Couples See New Hope For Immigration Benefits

Ken Thompson and Otts Bolisay at their home in Seattle.
Credit 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.

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Science of Politics
12:15 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Is Social Anxiety Impacting Your Political Views?

What shapes your political views?
marsmet481 Flickr

Both state and federal lawmakers have been debating over how to approach immigration reform. Immigrants themselves tend to favor paths to citizenship and educational opportunities for their children. But how do non-immigrants formulate their opinions on the subject? A recent academic study says that maybe our genes play a key role in shaping our political views. According to the research, people with a predisposition to social anxiety and fear are more likely to be critical of the unfamiliar and therefore more likely to support things like anti-immigration policy. David Hyde talks to lead author and political science professor Pete Hatemi to get the details.

Immigration
12:20 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Coming To America

Happy participants in the military naturalization ceremony, Yongsan, Korea, Dec. 2008.
US Army Photo by Edward N. Johnson

According to the Migration Policy Institute as of 2011, 13.3 percent of Washington’s population was born in another country. Today on The Conversation, Ross Reynolds hears stories about traveling to the US in search of a new home.

Financial Aid Eligibility
5:40 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Legislators Consider College Aid For Undocumented Students

Credit 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.

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Immigration
12:32 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

E-Verify: A Verifiably Good Or Bad Idea?

E-Verify protesters march in front of Congressman Peter King’s office, Massapequa Park, New York, Sept. 2011.
longislandwins Flickr

President Obama thinks E-Verify should be mandatory as part of his plan for immigration reform. Is this a good idea? How accurate is E-Verify? What happens if someone comes up negative? Is immigration contacted immediately? Ross Reynolds talks with CEO Roy Beck of Numbers USA, and Policy Analyst David Bier.

Immigration
12:20 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Does Microsoft Need More Temporary Worker Visas?

Big changes to US immigration policy could mean more temporary work visas for people with skills like computer programming. Employers in the Northwest including Microsoft say there aren’t enough US workers to meet demand. Now, a bipartisan group of Senators wants to expand the number of temporary worker visas from 65,000 to 115,000. But critics say those jobs can and should be filled by qualified US workers. Ross Reynolds talks with public policy advocate and political strategist Maria Cardona and president of the Programmers Guild, Kim Berry about the ongoing issue of temporary worker visas.

Agriculture Workforce
9:03 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Washington Farmers Encouraged By Senate Immigration Plan

In this Oct. 21, 2011, file photo Margarito Calderon picks apples at an orchard in Tieton, Wash.
Shannon Dininny, File AP Photo

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

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Immigration
10:00 am
Tue January 29, 2013

The Politics Of Federal Immigration Reform

Sen. Robert Menendez and Sen. Charles Schumer join a bipartisan group of leading senators to announce that they have reached agreement on the principles of sweeping legislation to rewrite the nation's immigration laws, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. The deal covers border security, guest workers and employer verification, as well as a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country.
Credit AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite


There appears to be a bipartisan deal in Congress to reform the country's immigration policy, as Democrats and Republicans dance a delicate dance in the hopes that neither party jeopardizes the agreement. The proposal by a Senate "Gang of Eight" creates a path to citizenship for 11 million people living in the US without documentation, creates a more secure border and, the GOP hopes, could reshape the political calculations of a growing segment of the electorate. We look at the policy and the politics of immigration reform with University of Washington pollster Matt Barreto.

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