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.

It’s a dilemma many American families confront: when to ask mom or pop if they’re ready to move into an old folks’ home. For newer Americans, the very idea often clashes with cultural expectations.

Washington Lt. Governor Brad Owen traveled to China last year and touted a company that’s now at the center of a federal fraud investigation.

The Washington Attorney General's office has taken action against Orona & Associates in Everett, the business advertised here.  A consent decree assessed $8,000 in civil penalties and $1,500 in costs and fees.
courtesy Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

A crackdown on scammers offering fraudulent immigration services found hundreds of victims, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday in announcing action against four businesses.

Ferguson said fraudulent “consultants” known “notarios públicos” as are preying on new, vulnerable immigrants.

I'm The Kid In Your Honors Class Who Crossed The Border Illegally

Aug 14, 2015
Luis Angel Gomez-Castillo lives in Seattle with his family. He is entering his sophomore year at the University of Washington.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Hoping for a better life and education for my younger brother and me, my mother decided we should migrate to the U.S.

I was only 9 years old when we crossed the border illegally. With only a two-liter water bottle, we walked through the desert at night for two hours.

The scene in the New Holly neighborhood after a drive-by shooting killed Zakariya Issa on Friday, July 31.
Courtesy of Salaxley TV

People in Seattle’s New Holly neighborhood say the killings of two young Somali men have shaken their faith in the police and they want more to be done to protect them.

'Hispanic Immigration': What Pops Up In Mind?

Jul 29, 2015
RadioActivians Gerardo Ramos and Rogelia Sanchez.
KUOW Photo

In the latest edition of the RadioActive podcast, Rogelia Sanchez and Gerardo Ramos hear from people about their perspectives on Hispanic immigration. They also ask their fellow RadioActive teammates what pops in their mind when they hear the phrase Hispanic immigration and they share responses to a speech from a presidential candidate who has a lot to say on the subject.

When undocumented immigrants move through government-run detention centers in the U.S., it can take months before they find out if they'll be deported or allowed to stay in the country.

During this long wait, many become frustrated. And some turn to religion.

It's the job of the in-house chaplain to help connect detainees to religious services.

Keith Henderson, chaplain at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., says, "I love it. I love the job," partly, he says, because he likes challenges.

An interesting immigration case is winding its way through a federal court in Austin, Texas: A group of mothers has filed suit against the chief of the state's Department of State Health Services Vital Statistics Unit, because it has refused to give their U.S.-born children birth certificates.

The issue here is not whether or not these children are U.S. citizens. They are and that's made plain by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which says most people born in the U.S. are automatically citizens.

A moose browses along a bicycle path in the Anchorage, Alaska, area this week.
Seattle Globalist Photo/Alex Stonehill

Reporting in Alaska comes with special challenges: There are the vast distances, the fickle weather, the moose on the bicycle path …

Pramila Jayapal talks with former Washington GOP head Chris Vance at a taping of KUOW's 'Week in Review' at Columbia City Theatre on June 5, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

David Hyde speaks with Senator Pramila Jayapal, the former leader of the immigrant rights organization OneAmerica who now represents Seattle's 37th Legislative District, about what it's been like to transition from activism to elected office.

Most aspiring chefs long for the white hat, the gleaming kitchen, the fancy menu.

But Nigeria-born Tunde Wey stumbled into a different version of the (American) chef's dream. He wanted to see the country and share the food of his West African childhood with friends and strangers along the way.

So a few months ago, he packed up his knives and his spices at his home in Detroit and started crisscrossing the U.S. by Greyhound bus.

A farmworker in Western Washington.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Hundreds of farm workers from Mexico are now making their way to the Northwest after a major delay.

A computer glitch crippled the U.S. visa system, including a guest worker program that Northwest farmers increasingly rely on.

Officer Michelle Vallor and community leader Vung It.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Seattle police officers don’t get involved in immigration issues as a rule – but that doesn’t mean their relationship with refugees is easy.

The city wants to change that by bringing together officers and people who often avoid them – like Officer Michelle Vallor and 19-year-old Vung It.

The Department of Homeland Security says it is changing its family detention policies, but critics say the steps don't go far enough.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin releasing families now being held at ICE facilities who are "successful in stating a case of credible or reasonable fear of persecution in their home countries."

The families will have to post a monetary bond or other condition of release.

Ta Kwe Say, 23, says this drawing in the book 'Forced to Flee' depicts how Burmese army recruits are programmed to choose violence over justice.
Courtesy of Erika Berg

What would you do if you were forced to leave your country and couldn't go home? For refugees in Washington state, that's more than a hypothetical question.

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