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.

Denise Sharify / Neighborhood House

Physical activity is good for the body and mind, though finding time to exercise can be a challenge. But for some people, time is not the only issue. Many Muslim women find that cultural constraints limit their options. A group of immigrant women in Seattle found a way to overcome that challenge.

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.

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.

South Lake Union
Image Courtesy/Vulcan

Seattle is nearing the end of a years-long process to rezone its South Lake Union neighborhood. One of the final points of discussion is whether to increase a fee paid by developers in order to build taller than the city’s height limits. The money pays for affordable housing in the city. Some Seattle City Council members support a fee increase, but opponents say it’s too late in the game to make changes and risk cooling off growth in one of Seattle’s fastest growing neighborhoods. We talk it over with Councilmember Nick Licata and developer A-P Hurd.

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

There are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants now in the US – around a quarter million here in Washington state. Unlike other parts of the country, the majority of immigrants in Washington are from Asian countries. Why aren’t Asian undocumented immigrants more visible in protests and in the press? Ross Reynolds talks with We Belong Together co-chair, Pramila Jayapal.

MABTON, Wash. - Most American families have some kind of immigration lore -- think Ellis Island, the Oregon Trail and slave ships. At dinner tables across the Northwest, some Mexican-American families tell their own vivid tales. They regale each other with stories of relatives swimming to better opportunities across the Rio Grande or crossing the desert at night.

Yes, these crossings are illegal, but they also are part of a family’s history. If the U.S. Congress adopts comprehensive immigration reform this year, these types of border stories could begin to fade.

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.

N3 Photo/Jessica Robinson

Who are the undocumented workers? Ross Reynolds sits down with KUOW's Liz Jones to discuss immigration policy and hear stories from undocumented workers in the region.

BREWSTER, Wash. - There's one word that politicians almost always use when they talk about the U.S. immigration system. That word is “broken.” But what does that really mean? Residents of the small town of Brewster, Wash., know. For decades, immigrants have come from Mexico, often illegally, to work the surrounding apple and cherry orchards. Bewster, it turns out, is a microcosm of how the immigration debate is playing out.

What Would Jesus Do About Immigration Reform?

Mar 18, 2013
Flickr Photo/DickMorgan

When it comes to immigration, people from all over the political spectrum seem to agree on one thing: the system is broken. Now, support for immigration reform is growing among an unexpected group.  Religious conservatives in Washington state, as well as all around the country, are coming out in support of immigration reform.

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.

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.

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.

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