immigration

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Within ten minutes of his first day of school Juan Felipe Herrera was spanked, scolded, and left crying, all for speaking Spanish, the only language he knew. You wouldn't have guessed it then, but Herrera would grow up to be named the United States Poet Laureate. Twice.

His journey may never have happened if it weren't for his third-grade teacher, Mrs. Sampson.

"She said something that stayed with me for the rest of my life, and that I tell everyone I meet," Herrera said in an interview on KCUR's Up To Date, "you have a beautiful voice."

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Juan Felipe Herrera's official duty is to be the "lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans."

That's how the Library of Congress begins its job description for the United States poet laureate. In other words, the poet-in-chief "seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry."

Coming to America is a dream, an ideal, for some people. Inspired by a KU project that's collecting stories from African immigrants, we explore the stories behind the migration experience — and how they shape what we know about ourselves and the world.

On Monday, May 9, there's a forum on migration stories at Unity Temple on the Plaza; it's the kickoff event for the KU project.

Guests:

Kyle Palmer / KCUR 89.3

Brittany admits this is a risk: telling her story, being so public. As a nod to that risk, she only wants her first name used. But along with her fear, there's something else: anger. 

"I want to be as honest as possible," she says. "It's what I'm going through, what many other kids like me [in Kansas City] are going through, and it's something we don't talk about: it's ignored, it's in the shadows, and it shouldn't be like that." 

A graduating high school senior without US citizenship reflects on her journey so far. With several college options to choose from, how does this accomplished student's immigration status influence the decision about where to go?

Guest:

Montgomery County Jail

U.S. Reps. Kevin Yoder and Blaine Luetkemeyer want answers after a Mexican man allegedly murdered five people in Kansas and Missouri last week.

Pablo Serrano-Vitorino, 40, is accused of killing four people in Kansas City, Kansas, March 7 before leading law enforcement on a cross-state manhunt that ended after a fifth murder in Montgomery County, Missouri.

“Mistakes were certainly made on a variety of levels,” says Yoder. “You have immigration and customs officials having multiple opportunities to detain this man and not being able to do so.”

Within the past couple of years, there's been an influx of unaccompanied child migrants arriving in the United States (including to Kansas) after fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.

Esther Honig / KCUR 89.3

 In the small, rural city of Liberal, Kansas, a neighborhood of old trailer homes sits just off the main street. The small trailer at the end of the block, with faded yellow paint and creaky front steps, is the place 17-year-old Diego now calls home.

Flickr/Adam_Procter400

For a small group of high school seniors in the metro, their college options are narrowing because of a law passed last year in Jefferson City. 

Once-affordable options like Metropolitan Community College now seem like iffy bets. UMKC and Northwest Missouri State are a stretch. Mizzou? Forget about it.  

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

On a Saturday afternoon, four female students from Kansas City's Alta Vista Charter High School are making a three-hour trip in a rented minivan to Omaha. As they get closer, they each practice their pitches for why they deserve a full-ride scholarship to college. 

Brittany emphasizes the long hours she puts into extracurricular work making an electric car.

Anahi lays out how she wants to be a lawyer to better "serve my community" as an adult.

Kansas City is home to lots of refugee children and their families, who face trying transitions to new countries, a new language, new customs and new schools. On this edition of Up to Date, we examine their experiences and find out who helps them.

Guests:

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

The immigrant workers that pick crops like cotton and melons in the U.S. can have a tough time finding a place to live. The rural areas where they can find work often lack the social services and affordable housing. That means many farm worker families end up in dilapidated buildings, which can come with health risks.

Migrant workers planting roots

Angel Castro’s old road is muddy and covered with flooded potholes. He lived here during the 1990s just behind a large John Deere store in Kennett, Mo.

Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons--CC

Updated: Monday, 7:43 p.m.:

The ACLU of Missouri on Tuesday filed separate lawsuits on behalf of three Missouri college students who were billed for tuition at the nonresident rate because of their immigration status.

All three came to the U.S. as youngsters and live here under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the lawsuits state. DACA allows undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children to stay provided they meet certain requirements.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

A hotel ballroom in Independence, Missouri, packed with local South Sudanese erupted into applause, song and ululations Saturday as their vice president entered the room. 

Vice President James Wani Igga was swept up into a spontaneous parade, greeting men and women with outstretched hands and warm embraces.

Some had traveled from as far as Minnesota and Iowa to hear what the vice president had to say about the most recent peace treaty, signed in August, between the four-year-old South Sudanese government and rebel forces.

Fidencio Martinez-Perez

When Fidencio Martinez-Perez was 7 years old, a smuggler brought him, his mother and his three brothers across the Mexican border.

Now he makes art in which the roads, rivers and boundary-markers of the United States resemble the blood vessels of human figures. His main material is simple, but significant.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

In a few weeks, Kansas City Public Schools will have a brand new and unusual educational partner.

The district expects to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Mexican Consulate in Kansas City to provide an array of services to Mexican students and their families in the district. 

About 25 percent of the district’s students are Spanish speakers and most of them have Mexican roots.

"We have children here who have come to this country at no choice of their own. This was a parent choice," says Luis Cordoba who runs the district’s Office of Student Interventions.

Adolfo Gustavo Martinez

When Kansas City artist Adolfo Gustavo Martinez lived in Edinburg, Texas, in the 1980s, he spent most Sundays at bars in the border towns listening to live Tex-Mex music.

He recalls with fondness being able to see people grilling and partying just across the Rio Grande River in Mexico.

“The Rio Grande Valley isn’t very wide, probably like a street,” Martinez says. “You could see them right there, right across the river.”

Undocumented immigrants are a hot topic in the presidential race, but every year, thousands of people complete the process to come to America legally. On this edition of Up to Date, we look at the twists and turns in the process to become a permanent resident of the United States.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach  joins Statehouse Blend to discuss voter fraud, immigration, and his treatment in the media.

Guests:

  • Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State
  • Melissa Carlson, Citizen Voice
  • Nick Haines, Executive Producer of Public Affairs, KCPT

Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning rejects the notion his department is providing sanctuary for people in the country illegally.

Some members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, want to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” following the murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco. The man who killed Steinle had been deported multiple times, and Yoder wants to cut some federal funding for cities and counties that don’t cooperate with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Shawnee County Emergency Management / Twitter

An amendment to a bill offered by Republican Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder could cost some Kansas counties federal funding. 
 
Yoder’s proposal would strip existing Federal Emergency Management Agency grants away from local governments that are not fully enforcing national immigration laws.
 
Under the amendment, Shawnee, Johnson and Sedgwick counties could all lose a substantial amount of federal money. They would still be eligible for disaster aid.
 

UMKC

Students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who were brought into the county as children are facing a potential tripling of their tuition because of action by Missouri lawmakers, have received good news from the university.

Spokesman John Martellaro says UMKC has identified private donations to cover the difference between in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

From immigration reform to education and health care, several recurring issues were on the minds of people attending The National Council of La Raza's annual conference in Kansas City this week.

Since Saturday, conference attendees have been milling about the Kansas City Convention Center, going from workshop to workshop to learn about some of the greatest challenges facing Latinos in the United States. 

National Council of La Raza President and CEO Janet Murgia is back in her hometown, and she's brought thousands of people with her for the La Raza's annual conference. She talks with Steve Kraske about her family, politics, and the greatest challenges facing Latinos today. 

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Both Wyandotte and Johnson Counties in Kansas have seen their Latino population grow in the past 25 years. And though the highest concentration of Latinos in Kansas City live in Wyandotte County, the number of Latinos living in both counties is about the same, nearly 40,000 people.

The population is growing at a rate that's fairly new to Johnson County, whose Latino population has nearly doubled in the past 15 years. I talked to Latinos living in both counties about the opportunities and differences between life in both counties.

Johnson County native Sonia Nazario won a Pulitzer Prize for her series in the LA Times chronicling one Honduran teen's journey to the United States to find his mother.  On this edition of Up To Date, Steve Kraske speaks with Nazario about the risks she took to get the story, and the ongoing struggle of immigrants and families in Central America. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Six people face federal money laundering charges in an alleged $13 million scheme that allowed Kansas contractors to pay undocumented workers in cash.

U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced the charges Thursday at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kan. Grissom said that instead of raiding factories looking for undocumented workers, his office is trying to target the root cause of illegal immigration.

"We've thought that there has to be a better, more humane and from the taxpayer's standpoint, a more effective way to address this problem," Grissom said.

On Thursday, The Village Square’s Kansas City group hosted a panel discussion on immigration titled, “Beyond the Melting Pot: Tossed Salad or Fortress America?” The public forum featured Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who’s made headlines around the country with his focus on illegal immigration. 

Also on the panel were:

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

In November, President Obama announced sweeping changes to immigration policy via executive action.

The action, which protects about 4.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States from deportation, has been met with controversy nationwide.

But Hispanic communities in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., say the measure is a step in the right direction.

Esther Honig / for Harvest Public Media

On a warm October afternoon Veronica Jaramillo walks through rows of skinny apple trees on the orchard where she works as the sun sinks behind rolling Missouri hills.

The 30 year-old migrant farmworker reaches into a tree on the Waverly, Mo., orchard, and in one fluid motion, picks a Golden Delicious apple.

“I don’t like picking the Golden,” laughs Jaramillo. “They’re real delicate and you can bruise them with just your fingertips.”

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