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Adrian Florido

For more than a week, Puerto Rico's representative in Congress has been urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to extend the contract under which mainland power crews have been helping repair the island's power grid.

Updated 5:58 p.m. ET

The last of the federal government's power restoration crews are scheduled to leave Puerto Rico when their contract expires next week, leaving the island's power utility with the task of energizing the last 1.5 percent of customers still waiting eight months after Hurricane Maria.

But on Wednesday, the island's representative in Congress asked the federal government not to send its crews home.

As Puerto Rico continues its recovery from Hurricane Maria, officials on the island are preparing for billions of dollars in federal reconstruction aid that will begin flowing in the coming months.

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One tree was all it took. Around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, a wayward trunk tumbled over onto a major transmission line in Puerto Rico's still-fragile electrical grid and cut power to roughly 840,000 customers, affecting more than half of the island's population.

For months, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello has been struggling to get the U.S. Treasury to release $4.7 billion in disaster recovery loans that the U.S. Congress approved in October, weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island commonwealth. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had delayed releasing the loans because of disagreement over the terms of repayment.

On Thursday, the two men said they had reached a deal to allow the funds to start flowing.

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Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico's education secretary, stood in front of a school library full of high school students and asked them to do something students in Puerto Rico's public schools aren't often asked.

"Take out your phones," she said. "Look up the definition of charter school."

A girl's hand shot up.

"A charter school," the girl read, "is a school that receives government funding but operates independently of the established state school system in which it is located."

Before Valentine's Day, love is in the air. But sometimes, love hurts. It's a harsh reality that many Mexicans deal with by listening to rancheras, traditional songs from Mexico's countryside that you can put on when you need a good cry. One young woman found a connection to her ancestors through the sounds of guitars and tears.

A longer version of this story originally aired on NPR's Latino USA.

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Updated 12:46 p.m. ET

A spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday that the agency's plan to end its distribution of emergency food and water in Puerto Rico and turn that responsibility over to the Puerto Rican government would not take effect on Jan. 31.

In the days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, residents of some of the hardest hit rural areas found themselves stranded — cut off from more populated areas by mudslides, crumbled roads and bridges, and toppled trees and power lines. In those early days, the only food and water many of these communities received arrived by helicopter, sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has asked the Justice Department to investigate the island's public electric utility after federal agents said they found large quantities of critical rebuilding materials stored in a warehouse owned by the public company.


Valery Pozo still gets angry thinking about it. It was about a decade ago, and the immigrant communities in her hometown, Salt Lake City, were on edge because of recent immigration enforcement raids in the area. Pozo's mother, an immigrant from Peru, was on the sidelines at her son's soccer game when another parent asked whether she was "illegal."

"To me, that was clearly a racist question and a racist assumption," Pozo recalled.

But her mother saw it as a harmless comment, despite Pozo's best efforts to convince her that it was something bigger.

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As the water rose on their first-floor apartment, Rosa Sosa and her family fled to a vacant unit on the second floor. They watched in horror as it continued to rise, as it swallowed most of the cars in the parking lot that rings their sprawling two-story complex, as it stuck around, stubbornly, even after the rain stopped.

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In the 1970s, the nation's Latino advocacy groups had grown fed up with the U.S. Census Bureau. During its 1970 population count, the agency had made a half-hearted attempt to quantify the number of Latinos and Hispanics living in the United States.

In the mayor's office on the second floor of Baltimore City Hall, Catalina Rodriguez-Lima has been uneasy lately. Rodriguez-Lima runs a city office whose mission is to attract new immigrants to Baltimore — a strategy for reversing decades of population decline. But President Donald Trump's plans to ramp up deportations of immigrants in the U.S. illegally have cast a pall over her efforts.

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Researchers at Stanford University this week published a study that may bolster the argument that policies aimed at encouraging immigrants to come out of the shadows actually improve public safety. They found that a 2013 California law granting driver's licenses to immigrants in the country illegally reduced hit-and-run accidents by 7 to 10 percent in 2015, meaning roughly 4,000 fewer hit-and-runs. In that same year, 600,000 people got driver's licenses under the law.

Code Switch's Adrian Florido has been covering the new sanctuary movement for us. For this episode, he spoke to key players to understand why hundreds of churches are ready to start a public fight with the current administration to prevent deportations of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

He also looks at why the movement has to wrestle with important questions: Who controls the story and the message? How much say does an individual or family have in how a sanctuary church leverages their story?

Over the weekend, I was in Los Angeles and attended a production of Zoot Suit, by the trailblazing Chicano playwright Luis Valdez.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Sunday that he disagreed with President Trump's recent declaration that the press is "the enemy."

The racial wealth gap has been measured and studied for decades. One fact has remained the same: White families build and accumulate more wealth more quickly than black and brown families do.

The notion that some immigrants in the United States illegally are more deserving of the right to stay than others has been a tenet of U.S. immigration policies for some time.

President Barack Obama often alluded to it when he talked about how the government should determine whom to deport. "Felons, not families," he said in 2014, suggesting that some immigrants are good and others are bad.

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