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undocumented immigrants

Bread for the World / flickr

This week, I’m posting segments from my documentary, "Voices from the Fields," a story of migrant workers in Michigan. It airs today on Stateside.

Migrant work is one of the only jobs available to undocumented workers in the U.S.

An estimated 50 to 70 percent of farm workers in the U.S. are undocumented, and this causes problems not only for the workers, but for employers too.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan will pay less than average for health insurance

"The Obama administration says Michigan residents required to shop for health insurance starting next week will pay an average $306 a month - before tax credits - for a mid-range benchmark plan. That's below the national average of $328 and ranks 29th-lowest out of 47 states for which data was available," the Associated Press reports.

Wayne State University to offer in-state tutition for undocumented students

"Wayne State University will begin offering in-state tuition to undocumented students. The decision came as part of a policy change that ties tuition to students' high school diplomas, instead of their residency status," Michigan Radio reports.

Snyder not running yet, but his campaign ads are

"The first campaign ad in the race for Michigan governor will start airing today. Governor Rick Snyder is launching his ad campaign before he’s formally announced he’s a candidate," Rick Pluta reports.

Terra Molengraff / The Michigan Daily

Wayne State University will begin charging in-state tuition to undocumented students. The decision is part of a policy change that now ties tuition to students' high school diplomas, instead of their residency status.

Students who went to a Michigan high school for at least three years and graduated are now eligible for in-state tuition. Students who got their GED in Michigan are also eligible for in-state tuition.

Provost Margaret Winters says the change is good for all students.

The Michigan Union covered in blooming ivy
Wikimedia Commons

The new fall semester at the University of Michigan is bringing significant change.

Earlier this summer, the U of M Board of Regents said “yes” to offering in-state tuition to undocumented students as long as they meet certain criteria. All military will be allowed to pay in-state tuition, active, reserve, and honorably discharged, as well.

The vote was watched closely by advocates for young people who were brought into this country as undocumented immigrants. On such advocate is Serena Davila. Davila is the Executive Director for Legislative Affairs for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Cyndy Canty, host of Stateside, spoke with Davila about the change in tuition.

Listen to the full interview above.

From a Detroit classroom
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

 This week, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the Detroit Public Schools student quota, Washtenaw County’s identification card plan that includes undocumented immigrants, and the continuing campaigns of Detroit mayoral candidates Benny Napoleon and Mike Duggan.

Detroit Public Schools trying to meet enrollment goal

The Detroit Public School district is depending on enrolling 5,000 more students for the 2013-2014 school year.  If the district doesn’t meet its goal, they will lose millions of dollars in funding from the per-pupil-allowance from the state.  Jack Lessenberry says that Detroit used to enroll almost 200,000 students thirteen years ago.  They now only enroll 46,000.  Lessenberry says “they’ve been going door-to-door trying various gimmicks, of course those are sort of dubious too, to get kids to come back.  But it’s all about how many bodies they have in seats on Count Day.”

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Governor Snyder in China next week

Next week Governor Snyder will travel to Asia on a third economic development mission to the region.  MLive.com reports that he will visit China and Japan to “market the state's export offerings, promote Michigan as a tourist destination, and convince Chinese business leaders that Detroit, despite its bankruptcy filing, is still a good place to invest." Funds for the business trip come from the Michigan Economic Growth Foundation.

Building inspectors charged with bribery

Yesterday Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette charged seven Detroit building inspectors with bribery.  Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports that Schuette says “inspectors took bribes to overlook code violations – in some cases, going to the lengths of falsifying architectural plans.” An investigation led by the Southeast Michigan Public Corruption Task Force and the FBI led to yesterday’s charges.

Washtenaw program may provide ID cards for undocumented immigrants

Washtenaw County is considering a program that would issue identification cards to all its residents, including undocumented immigrants.  The Washtenaw County Board Chairman says that while undocumented immigrants are a large group of people affected by the ID program, they would not be the only ones to benefit.  Yousef Rabhi says “it could apply to immigrants; it could apply to folks that are homeless; it could apply to folks that are transgender and who don't believe that the male/female designation on the current state ID is representative of who they really are.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washtenaw_County,_Michigan

Washtenaw county officials are considering a new program that would give county ID cards to all residents - including undocumented immigrants.

Yousef Rabhi is the Washtenaw County Board Chairman and one of the chief supporters of this program.

Entrepreneurship is on the rise in West Michigan. We took a look at what this means for the Grand Rapids area and the rest of the state.

And, when you consider all of the possible "fixes" being discussed for struggling big cities like Detroit, there is an idea being offered up that has truly stood the test of time: attract more immigrants.

Also, we heard how a University of Michigan professor is using archeology to tell the story of undocumented immigrants crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S.

First on the show,  Michigan now has the fourth highest rate in the nation of parents who do not have their children vaccinated for religious, medical and other reasons. Many simply don’t get all the immunization shots required.

Despite adamant statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control that vaccines have no link to autism, an anti-vaccination movement is growing online, from parent to parent, and through activist celebrities, such as actress Jenny McCarthy.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and physicians are mounting fresh efforts  to get more Michigan children fully vaccinated.

This vaccination push begins as the number of children falling ill with preventable diseases is on the rise.

We wanted to see how this story is being played out in the exam rooms of a busy pediatric practice, day-in and day out. Oakland County pediatrician Dr. Martin Levinson has been practicing medicine for 33 years. He joined us today.

lsa.umich.edu

It was the mid 1990's when the United States began an immigration enforcement strategy called Prevention Through Deterrence, or PTD.

It consisted of boosting security in unauthorized crossing areas surrounding major border cities with the idea that undocumented migrants would have to shift towards remote border regions where crossing conditions are much more difficult -- places like the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona.

Two decades later, it's clear that PTD has failed to deter undocumented migrants.

The smuggling industry in northern Mexico has grown to serve the migrants, and here in the U.S., the movement to reform our broken immigration system is growing with bipartisan support.

But what of the life stories of these migrants?

That question has led Jason De León to apply his scientific training in anthropology and archeology to discovering the thousands of stories of these migrants.

De León is a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and he's the director of the Undocumented Migration Project.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Detroit files for bankruptcy

Governor Rick Snyder has approved Detroit’s bankruptcy filing.  It is now the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. History.  Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports that “the governor says bankruptcy will ultimately offer creditors some assurances on how much they will be paid. A federal judge still has to approve the request.”

University of Michigan grants in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants

Yesterday, the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved the provision of in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.  Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton reports that “undocumented students will have to show they attended middle school and high school in Michigan to get the lower tuition rate.”  This comes after two years of lobbying from activists and undocumented students.

Last chance for Inkster and Buena Vista school districts

The Inkster and Buena Vista school districts have until Monday evening to prove that they can finance the 2013-2014 school year.  If funds cannot be found, the districts will then be closed.  Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports that “if Inkster and Buena Vista are shut down, their students would go to other schools in the intermediate school district.”

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the controversy over the Common Core State Standards, the University of Michigan’s vote on whether to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students, and the debate over food stamps and the U.S. farm bill.

Terra Molengraff / The Michigan Daily

Undocumented students who’ve grown up in Michigan may soon be eligible for in-state tuition at one of the state’s biggest universities.

On Thursday, the regents at the University of Michigan will vote on a new policy that will redefine what it means to be an in-state student at the university.

Provost Martha Pollock, who took office this May, said the changes being proposed would benefit more than the state’s undocumented students.

From today's press release:

I have nothing against the Theater of the Absurd. I was taught French years ago by an odd method based on the comedies of Eugene Ionesco, the master of irrational dialogue. But absurdity doesn’t work very well as a guide to life, unless, say, you are an infant, or have only months to live.

Two plus two is, after all four. If you want your children to be successful in life, they generally need to know reading, writing and arithmetic. However, we seem to have a set of leaders, both left and right, who have made careers out of denying reality.

Let’s take education, first of all. The non-partisan, respected Education Trust, Midwest released a report yesterday showing that Michigan students are performing below the national average in every category. That’s worse than thirty-five other states.

user: Boss Tweed / Flickr

Michigan could get a boost in new tax revenues if the federal government approves proposed changes to immigration laws.

That’s according to a new report.  

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy predicts Michigan could gain $35 million dollars a year in new sales, property and income tax revenues, under the immigration changes.

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan voters will probably still need to affirm their citizenship before they cast ballots.   That's despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling today.

The nation’s highest court struck down an Arizona law that required individuals to prove their citizenship status when they registered to vote.

Michigan requires voters to ‘affirm’ their citizenship status, but not necessarily provide proof.

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.

Rashida Tlaib (D) is a state representative from the 6th district and is one of 55 state and local officials who wrote a letter to four big names in Washington D.C.

Tlaib and others called on John Boehner (House Speaker), Nancy Pelosi (House Minority Leader), Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) and Mitch McConnell (Senate Minority Leader) to help lead the way on our country's immigration policies.

nancybechtol / Morguefile

There are eight to 10 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, all of whom are central to the heated immigration debate in Washington D.C. 

More specifically, there are undocumented immigrants who are part of a mixed family - in which one family member is undocumented while the rest of the family are American citizens. 

"It's a horrible tragedy and a national shame, but looking on the bright side, [mixed families] have reframed the debates and things are finally looking like something might happen on immigration reform in Washington," said David Koelsch.

Koelsch is an immigration lawyer and a professor at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School.

"You can talk about the eight to 11 million [undocumented immigrants], but all of those people have loved ones and employers...it has a much broader effect in our society and economy beyond just those people," he said.

State begins to issue limited-term driver's licenses

Feb 19, 2013
Courtesy: 1michigan.org

Michigan begins to make driver's licenses available today to undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. The new rules apply to people who qualify under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Under these new rules other people will also be able to take advantage of these limited-term licenses, including international students and workers. Listen to the full interview with Gisgie Gendreau, Communications Director for the Michigan Department of State.

State to issue licenses to eligible undocumented immigrants

Feb 18, 2013
Secretary of State

Beginning Tuesday, certain undocumented immigrants living in Michigan will be able to get driver's licenses and state IDs.

Earlier this month, Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reversed her position and said immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and are eligible for temporary federal work permits can get licenses.

Johnson changed her position after the Obama administration clarified that individuals eligible for the permits, called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, can obtain licenses.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Undocumented immigrants to get state IDs

"Illegal immigrants brought to the country as children can start applying for Michigan driver's licenses and state IDs this week. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's office will begin accepting applications Tuesday," the Associated Press reports.

Lawmakers lobby to maintain Michigan's film tax incentive

"Michigan film producers and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville say they will lobby to maintain the state's $50 million film credits cap. Governor Rick Snyder is calling for a $25 million dollar cap in film incentives in the budget he has proposed. The amount is the same he proposed last year, but lawmakers raised the cap to $50 million during budget negotiations," the Associated Press reports.

Flint mayor to address his State of the City today

"Flint’s mayor plans to use his State of the City address today to talk about how his city can start planning for a future without an emergency financial manager. A state appointed manager has been running the city since December 2011," Steve Carmody reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Thousands of children of undocumented immigrants in Michigan are now eligible for a driver’s license or official state ID.

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.

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.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A major change in U.S. immigration policy is getting a mixed reaction from advocates for undocumented immigrants in Michigan. 

user mconnors / morgueFile

Low-income immigrants in the Washtenaw County area will soon be able to get free legal help from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Ann Arbor campus.

Jason Eyster, an associate professor at Cooley Law School, will run the new immigrant rights clinic. He says they’ll be able to take up to six immigration cases at a time, dealing with a variety of issues:

"In the immigration area: individuals are seeking asylum, seeking withholding of removal,  seeking cancelation of removal, or seeking clarity on what their rights may or may not be," said Eyster.

Eyster says they’ll also help immigrants with other issues, like "foreclosure, landlord-tenant, custody issues, and that sort of thing."

The clinic doesn't open until next month, but Eyster says they're already booked.

(courtesy of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin's Office)

An incoming University of Michigan student has taken her fight against being deported to Washington D.C.  Ola Kaso testified before a U.S. Senate committee in favor of the Dream Act.   The bill would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. to pursue their educations. 

Kaso says she has tried to take advantage of the education opportunity given to  her, an opportunity now threatened by deportation to Albania.

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