immigration

Sarah Alvarez

In honor of July 4th, we asked immigrants across Michigan what America means to them. Abdo Najy shared his story.

Abdo Najy has just recently completed his PhD and hopes to run his own lab soon. He's friendly, smiles a lot, and is animated when he talks about his research on breast and prostate cancer. 

Najy is modest and measured, but he knows he has a role in the search for a cure to cancer. He views his work as a scientist as his way to repay this country for educational opportunities he would not have had in his native Yemen. 

Born in Yemen in the 1980’s in the midst of a polio outbreak, Najy contracted the disease when he was just six months old.

Do you trust your government? What about your government? Do your elected leaders trust you?

Disapproval rates of Congress are at all-time lows - gridlock, and indecision. Can we change the dynamic, and what does it mean going forward?

And census results show a surprising trend: the state's male population is growing. We took a look at what's behind the numbers.

Also we spoke with Michael Narlock, head of Astronomy at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, about the best places to go in Michigan for stargazing this summer.

And Darrin Camilleri, President of the Michigan Federation of College Democrats, joined us to talk about increasing tuition and raised interested rates for student loans.

Also we continued our week-long series of stories from immigrants about what America means to them.

Today we heard from Linda Steinke, whose family came to the U.S. from Iran in the 1970s when her father had the opportunity to work in the auto industry.

First on the show, the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected has filed language with the Secretary of State to put another petition on the 2014 ballot. The group wants to ban wolf hunting in Michigan.

If the language is approved, the group will try and collect more than 160 thousand signatures to put the question to voters.

Rick Pluta, the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network joined us today.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

In honor of July 4th, we asked immigrants across Michigan what America means to them. Linda Steinke shared her story with us.

Her family came to the U.S. from Iran in the 1970s when her father had the opportunity to work in the auto industry.

Steinke is petite, with striking, honey-brown eyes. And these days she works as interpreter at medical appointments.

"I not only interpret the language, but I interpret the culture," Steinke explains.

Christian Haugen / Flickr

In honor of July 4th, we asked immigrants across Michigan what America means to them. A young woman from Mexico shared her story with us.


For some, the journey of getting to America can be just as challenging as starting a new life in the country.

“We walked here, basically,” a young woman from Mexico told us. “My mom brought me and my brother here when I was eight.”

“We crossed the border... and we just walked for hours and hours.”

Today, the 17-year-old lives at the Salvation Army’s Teen Parent Center in Grand Rapids.The Salvation Army asked us not to use her name, or the name of her one-year-old son.

bbmcshane / flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit judge says a lawsuit can go forward against federal authorities accused of violating the rights of Muslims at U.S.-Canada border crossings.

Federal Judge Avern Cohn says he's not ruling yet on the merits of the case. But he denied a request by the government to dismiss it Tuesday.

Some Detroit-area Muslims sued last year, saying they've been held at gunpoint, handcuffed and repeatedly questioned about their religion when returning to the U.S. from Canada. Some have given up on crossing the border.

Cohn says the government might come up with valid reasons for pulling Muslims aside for additional questions at the border. But he says that's not the key issue at this stage of the litigation.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Kyle Norris discuss Medicaid expansion in Michigan, immigration reform and how it could affect struggling Michigan cities, and the race for Senator Carl Levin’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

dreamactivist.org

It is extremely rare to have someone actually seek out a situation that would end with an arrest and a trip to jail.

But Claudia Munoz did exactly that. She got herself seized as an undocumented immigrant at the Ambassador Bridge in order to see first-hand what things are like at the immigration detention center in Calhoun County near Battle Creek.

Claudia is part of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, an activist group based in Washington. Their mission is to highlight immigration cases and pressure authorities to take a fresh look at their detention and deportation practices.

Claudia Munoz joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

It's not often that people actively seek out a situation that ends up putting them in jail, but on today's show, we spoke with one woman who did exactly that in order to put a spotlight on undocumented immigrants.

And, communities all across the state are spending money to become more bike-friendly. We found out why they think this will help reverse Michigan's brain-drain.

Also, three Michigan filmmakers switched gears from movies to music, and this weekend they are hosting a big outdoor music festival in Clare County.  

First on the show, Michigan will get $100 million from the federal government to tear down thousands of vacant houses and clean up struggling neighborhoods.

The money will be used in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Pontiac and Saginaw.

Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee has been pushing hard for this funding. He joined us today from Flint.

Global Detroit: Immigrants create jobs, contrary to popular belief

Jun 4, 2013

On Thursday, June 6th, Global Detroit is hosting the Global Great Lakes Network Convening in Detroit. Jennifer White speaks today with Steve Tobocman, director of Global Detroit about how the organization works to strengthen the economy of southeast Michigan through projects that connect immigrants to the global economy.

The Great Lakes Network Convening in Detroit will bring together leaders from similar organizations across the Rust Belt to share best practices, and collaborate on how to once again make the Midwest an economic powerhouse.

“The most important thing is that we create a welcoming environment; letting the world’s talent, investment, and trade know that Michigan and its cities are open for business,” says Tobocman.

“We want to compete, and we want the world’s most talented employees and entrepreneurs.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush did a number of things on Mackinac Island yesterday. He managed to completely pack the Grand Hotel’s auditorium as the first major speaker of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference.

He made some connections for what could be—could be—a run for the presidency three years from now. He gave intelligent and well-thought out perspectives on education and immigration reform.

But he also illustrated the huge dilemma facing today’s Republican Party, especially on immigration. Bush artfully sketched out the outlines of a policy that would actively encourage more immigrants, especially those who are well-educated and have needed skills. He would take us from a policy where most immigration is done for family reunification to one based on our nation’s economic priorities. That would seem to make a lot of sense.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new report by Michigan United and the Center for American Progress says that legalizing undocumented workers could give Michigan a significant economic boost.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A demonstration took place this afternoon in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Detroit.

Protestors gathered at 12:30 p.m. today asking for the release of Michael Mendy, a gay Senegalese artist who has lived in the U.S. for nearly 15 years. Michigan Radio's Kate Wells went to the demonstration and will bring us an update.

She shot this video:

The U.S. appears to be on the verge of the biggest immigration changes in a generation. Legislation being debated in Congress would allow many immigrants who are now here illegally an eventual path to citizenship.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State officials are weighing in on the immigration debate. Democrats in the state House Tuesday introduced a package of bills to change the way the Michigan treats immigrants.

Under the legislation, the state would offer in-state college tuition to some undocumented students. It would also create an office to coordinate resources and services for people hoping to become U-S citizens.

Representative Jeff Irwin says the legislation includes language he thinks Republican leaders in Lansing could support.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the issue of dredging in Michigan’s harbors, a package of bills that would make Michigan a more immigrant-friendly state, and how lawmakers have backed off from punishing colleges and municipalities for negotiating contracts before the right to work law went into effect.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

House Republicans won't push right-to-work penalties
 
"State House Republicans have given up on efforts to punish school districts and other public employers that agreed to labor contracts that delayed the effects of Michigan’s right-to-work law. The House GOP majority allowed budget bills to move forward without threatened reductions in state payments," Rick Pluta reports.

Democrats introduce legislation for immigration reform

"Yesterday, state House Democrats introduced a package of bills they say would make Michigan a more immigrant-friendly state. Among other things, the legislation would provide in-state college tuition for some undocumented students and create an office to coordinate services and resources for immigrants," according to Jake Neher.

Lawmakers move forward in passing state budget

"The Republican-controlled House today is planning to approve its entire spending plan for state government along with schools and colleges. The GOP-led Senate is expected to OK about half of its budget plant, and follow with the rest later. The moves will set the stage for negotiations in May with a goal of finishing up by June," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week in review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the possible plan to lower auto insurance rates in the state, a bill to require drug tests for welfare recipients, and the arrests made at the University of Michigan over immigration protests.

On today's show: we continue our look at road-funding Michigan.

There's a new proposal out this week in the state House that would shift the way we pay for road and bridge repairs, but can it really pass with both Democratic and Republican support?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The so-called gang of eight have released their immigration reform proposal.

The formal introduction of the bipartisan bill  known as the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” was filed last night at 2 a.m.

The 844 piece of legislation would enact sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration laws.

President Obama says the bill is a compromise that doesn’t give everyone everything they want, but he’s urging the Senate to move forward with it.

So we took a look at the man who likes to call himself the nation’s most pro-immigration Governor - Gov. Rick Snyder.

Rick Pluta Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network was with the Governor this afternoon and tells us what he had to say about the introduction of this bill.

Listen to the full interview above.

Millions of undocumented immigrants in this country are hoping this is the year for immigration reform. On today's show, we explore what the future holds for mixed-status families.

And, it's being called "one of the most dramatic ecological recovery stories in North America." Why beavers along the Detroit River are such a big deal.

And, it’s been a week now since Governor Snyder announced Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s emergency manager, and it was a week ago that we last spoke with Daniel Howes, business columnist at the Detroit News. We checked in with Howes about the prospect of a Detroit recovery.

All that, and roller derbies and march madness, on today's show.

U.S. ICE

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

For the very first time in more years than just about anyone can remember, things seem to be lining up in favor of immigration reform.

Michigan Sheriffs' Association

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

There has been a change of heart, or at least of policy, at Michigan's Secretary of State's office.

Word came down late last week that thousands of children of undocumented immigrants in Michigan will now be eligible for a driver's license or official state ID.

This was quite a reversal of the stand that had been taken by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson who now says a review of new federal guidelines convinced her to change the policy.

Cyndy spoke with Miriam Aukerman, staff attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, to talk about the change of policy.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

President Obama and federal lawmakers are announcing new plans for major immigration reform this week.

That comes as activists from Michigan and around the country are preparing for a major immigrant rights march in Washington, D.C. this spring.

There are an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally, and an estimated 100,000 in Michigan. Advocates hope to send at least 250 affected families from across the state to the “Keep Families Together” march on April 10th.

Congressman Gary Peters, a Democrat representing Detroit and much of Oakland County, says he’s hopeful that event can capitalize on growing public pressure for immigration reform.

“I think if most Americans can hear these compelling stories of people trapped in a dysfunctional immigration system, and the types of problems it’s created for their families…the American people will not
believe that’s an acceptable system,” Peters said.

Peters says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that real immigration reform is possible, despite likely fierce opposition in the Republican-dominated U.S. House.

A bipartisan group of Senators and President Obama are releasing frameworks for such reform this week.

Immigration reform advocates are cautiously hailing the Senate framework on some key points. They’re happy it includes a so-called “earned path to citizenship” for those now in the country illegally.

Detroit resident Cindy Garcia will attend the April march with her family. She’s fought successfully to prevent her husband, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, from being deported.

“Because if I can do it for myself, and my family, I can do it for the eleven other million families. Because when I stand here and tell my story, it’s not just for me,” Garcia said.

“I have to think of other children being separated from their families, and it’s not fair.”

Michigan Sheriffs' Association

The ACLU of Michigan is suing Secretary of State Ruth Johnson over her decision to deny driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants with work permits granted under a new federal-deferred action plan.

The suit was brought on behalf of three young immigrants and One Michigan, a youth-led advocacy group.

There are approximately 15,000 young people in Michigan who are eligible for the federal program.

Wendy Medrano / Michigan Organizing Project

More people are protesting against a decision to deny Michigan driver's licenses to immigrants granted work permits under a new federal deferred-action program.

President Obama announced the "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" program in June. It provides work permits and Social Security cards to young people brought to the United States without legal permission.

But Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson will not issue those in the program driver’s licenses because she says they don’t have legal status.

Immigration and the Latino vote

Oct 23, 2012
Flickr/jnn1776 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Recently, there was a protest rally in Southwest Detroit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement over raids and deportation, and what’s seen as overreach by ICE officials. Non-citizens can't legally vote, but how does the heightened sense of tension impact the Latino vote here in Michigan? Also, the Latino community is one of the fastest growing minority groups in the state. Should there be more Latino representation among lawmakers? Jennifer White talks with Laurence Garcia, an attorney, and the Chairman of the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan.

A non-profit organization in Kalamazoo is trying to help young undocumented immigrants sort through a new federal process that could prevent them from getting deported.

The director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the process earlier this month.

Lori Mercedes is the Executive Director of the Kalamazoo-based Hispanic American Council. She says many immigrants have been calling with questions about the process but are nervous about exposing their legal status.

“This brought it up to the light and forced a conversation about it. It made it into an issue; now we have to talk about it,” Mercedes said. “It’s exciting…we can tell our kids go ahead and dream and have hope. There is hope for you after all.”

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Immigrant advocates are celebrating a new policy that offers some protections for young immigrants.

And a few of them wasted no time heading to US immigration offices in Detroit on Wednesday, the first day applications became available.

The new Obama administration policy is the so-called the DREAM Relief Program—or, more formally, the “Deferred Action Enforcement Process for Young People Who Are Low Enforcement Priorities.”

Kate Wells / michiganradio.org

For a few hours Saturday morning, the Troy Public Library became Syrian immigration base camp. Some two dozen Syrian nationals came out to a makeshift legal clinic held there. Their visas are about to expire or already have, and the federal government’s offering a special extension due to the crisis in their country.

But as pro-bono lawyers explained to one family after another, Syrians who fled escalating violence in the last three months aren’t eligible; they’ve already missed the program’s crucial window.

That window ended March 29, when the Obama administration declared Syrians in the United States could receive Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. That lets Syrians stay here even after their visas expire.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

“This is a defining time for this country. That’s a place where the president and I agree,” the Republican Presidential candidate said in Holland Tuesday night. Thousands of Romney supporters in shorts and sandals rallied on the shore of Lake Michigan at Holland State Park.

Romney’s 20-minute long speech focused on how important a strong American economy and military are to the rest of the world.

“American strength is the best ally peace has ever known. We must strike for a strong America,” Romney said.

Romney says the president’s health care overhaul is hurting small businesses. He says the economy is being dragged down by uncertainty about the federal debt. He says he worries that the United States is headed on the same path as Greece.

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