Immigration

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Donald Trump plans to visit Harrisburg Wednesday to pitch his tax reform plan. 

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Ana Alberto-Ramirez spends most evenings after work with her boyfriend at their home in Bethel Park, hanging out and watching TV.

“And he plays soccer, so I go to his games, and I like taking pictures. Sometimes I’m there just taking pictures,” she said.

The 24 year-old works as a hair stylist on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

“I like to make hours, so I like to stay longer than I have to, especially when it’s busy.”

Bryan Cox / AP

Federal immigration officials say 107 people were arrested in Philadelphia as part of a nationwide sweep focusing on what they called "sanctuary" jurisdictions, which limit local authorities' cooperation in immigration investigations.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The famous, or perhaps infamous, Pittsburgh accent is as central to the Steel City’s identity as Terrible Towels and yellow bridges.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Last year, some schools in the Philadelphia area became "sanctuary campuses," promising to protect undocumented students and those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Trump administration's announcement last week that it will end DACA, a program shielding some  young people from deportation, could test that resolve if it, in fact, sunsets as promised in March.

Leaders of some "sanctuary campuses," such as the University of Pennsylvania — President Donald Trump's alma mater, immediately condemned the government's reversal.

Matt York / AP

Politicians and organizations in Philadelphia are raising money to help pay for applications to a soon-to be-ended program that allows young immigrants without legal status to remain in the country.

Officials on Monday announced the launch of The Dreamers Initiative , a fundraising effort to cover the $495 fee needed to renew an application to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Among Pittsburgh DREAMers who benefited from the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program – also called DACA – the Trump administration's decision to end the program elicited reactions ranging from distress to resignation on Wednesday.

Some were at a loss, saying they have no way to ensure they can stay in the U.S. if DACA expires in six months without a replacement from Congress.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday that the Trump Administration will rescind the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program – also called DACA – and allow legal protections for the roughly 800,000 “DREAMers,” who arrived in the country illegally as children, to expire in six months.

Unless Congress acts, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said on Tuesday, ending DACA will hurt the city’s universities and hospitals as well as tech and other corporate employers.

Philadelphia Is The Latest City To Sue U.S. Government Over 'Sanctuary' Conditions

Aug 30, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Philadelphia on Wednesday became the latest "sanctuary city" to sue Attorney General Jeff Sessions over what officials say are unconstitutional immigration restrictions placed on a major federal grant.

The city is asking the court to stop Sessions from adding these conditions to a its Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant, which it uses to pay police overtime, upgrade equipment and courtroom technology and train officers.

After Marrying U.S. Citizens, Undocumented Immigrants Attract ICE Scrutiny

Aug 22, 2017
Laura Benshoff / WHYY

Marriage tests couples in any number of ways.

Lillie Williams and Jonatan Palacios, both 27, have just spent about an hour being quizzed — literally — on their relationship.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

A new website, Storyburgh, aims to highlight the stories and experiences that often go overlooked in traditional media, like those of immigrants, Asian-Americans and stay-at-home dads. Will Halim, Storyburgh’s founding director, happens to be all three. 90.5 WESA’s Virginia Alvino Young spoke with Halim about how he came up with the concept. 

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

The journey for refugees from their home countries to Pittsburgh often takes years and includes lots of stops along the way. As part of WESA’s five-part series sharing the stories of young refugees, native Iraqi Maryam Nader, 15, talks about her desire to continue her travels and experience other cultures.

Nader is from Iraq, but she’s Kurdish, not Arabic.

“I don’t think anybody knows what are Kurdish,” said Nader. “They just assume they’re the same thing as Turkish, but they’re not. Kurdish have a different language and kind of a different culture.”

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Young refugees have to adapt quickly once they arrive in Pittsburgh. Although they often come from difficult circumstances, many are able to learn English and make friends quickly. As part of a five-part series from WESA, four young people from Iraq, Tanzania and Congo share their stories of transition.

Hussein Zangana, 15, now lives in Brookline. He said it’s very different from Iraq, where fighting forced his family to flee. “Something is wrong,” he said.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Some young refugees in Pittsburgh resettled in the city when they were infants and have lived here most of their lives. Others arrived earlier this year. 

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

The Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing one of the highest rates of internal displacement in the world because of conflict. More than a half-million people have fled the violence. Some of those refugees, including children, have resettled in Pittsburgh. 

Katie Meyer / WITF

Protesters around Pennsylvania spent Wednesday urging the commonwealth’s Republican US senators and congressional representatives not to support a budget bill that routes significant dollars toward enforcing immigration laws—including $1.6 billion to build a wall on the Mexican border.

One group braved torrential rain to bring the message to Congressman Lou Barletta’s office in Harrisburg—and they even brought props.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Dozens of supporters of Sanctuary City legislation offered emotional testimony to Pittsburgh City Council Wednesday after residents petitioned for a public hearing.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A petition urging Pittsburgh to officially declare itself a sanctuary city has resulted in a scheduled public hearing at City Council.

In 1980, soon after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, Zubair Popal fled the country with his wife, Shamim, two young sons and infant daughter.

"There was no hope for me to stay," he recalls. "I thought about the future of my kids. And in those days when the Soviet Union went to a country and invaded that country, they never left."

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

Mayor Bill Peduto acknowledged there may be some merit to Democratic challenger Rev. John C. Welch's plan to limit lead in Pittsburgh's drinking water at a mayoral forum hosted by 90.5 WESA and The Incline on Tuesday.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Stephanie Garcia, 17 of Beechview, read a biographical card about a Polish Boy named Aaron.

“His mother’s name was Louisa, his father’s name was Sigmund,” she said. “Aaron died in Shoah when he was a boy. His age, date and where he died have not been recorded.”

Fact Check: ICE Report Inconsistent With Local Jurisdictions In PA

Mar 27, 2017
Charles Reed/U.S. Immigratino and Customs Enforcement / AP

After President Donald Trump’s executive order, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were tasked with publishing reports on a regular basis showing how local law enforcement agencies respond to detainer requests, and what happens thereafter.

Mexican Consulate Offers Legal Assistance For Concerned Immigrants

Mar 15, 2017
Gregory Bull / AP

The Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia has traditionally been the place to go for Mexican immigrants to receive assistance with things like securing passports, birth certificates, visas, and how to send money to loved ones in Mexico.

Refugee Resettlement Already Winding Down In Some Pennsylvania Cities

Mar 10, 2017
Emily Previti / WITF

Imad Ghajar and his wife Marwa Hilani were born in Aleppo, Syria, met there, and didn't have plans to leave.

Then the war happened.

"Even in the schools, there wasn't security," Marwa, 37, said recently, through a translator, at her family's new home in Lancaster. "In the middle of the day, there would be a bomb, and someone would die. The area was not safe ever."

The dust from the explosions also made their daughter's asthma worse, and it was increasingly difficult and dangerous to get her treatment.

Trump's Immigration Talk Hits Home In Hazleton

Mar 3, 2017
Eleanor Klibanoff / Keystone Crossroads

Over a decade ago, Hazleton tried to stem the tide of immigrants flooding the city by prohibiting residents from employing, housing or selling anything to unauthorized immigrants. The ban never went into effect and was eventually struck down by the courts, costing the city $1.4 million in legal settlement fees. And it didn't stop Latino immigrants from settling in Hazleton: the city is now over 50 percent Latino. 

Town Halls Are Becoming Increasingly Contentious

Feb 24, 2017
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week’s topics include the recent nationwide rise in constituent-led town halls; interfaith support for, and the economic impact of, Pittsburgh’s immigrant residents; and bills proposed to combat the commonwealth’s opioid epidemic.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Gisele Fetterman, founder of 412 Food Rescue and Braddock’s free store, and wife of Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, was an undocumented immigrant for 10 years. She said she lived in New York City with her mother and her brother and dreamed of becoming a citizen one day.

The thing she looked forward to most? Jury duty.

Fetterman shared her immigration story Tuesday evening at an event she and her husband hosted at their home, meant to highlight the economic contributions of immigrants in the Pittsburgh region.

Chris Stalnaker / 90.5 WESA

About 100 local immigrants and supporters gathered in Beechview Thursday morning to protest the policies of President Donald Trump and show solidarity with their neighbors.

Alex Brandon / AP

Pennsylvania wasn’t among the states where large-scale immigration enforcement took place last week, but communities in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have reported raids.  

On Wednesday morning, the City of Philadelphia tweeted on its official account, “City is working to gather info on how many people have been impacted by increased ICE enforcements,” and gave the number for a hotline created by New Sanctuary Movement, an interfaith immigrant justice organization.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

When Alhena Torres turns on her car, a gentle rumble of pop music spills out of the speakers. She used to listen to the news while she drove, but after the first few weeks of the new administration in Washington, she says music has felt like a better option.

“Sometimes I’m just sad and disappointed,” she said, pulling up Google maps on her phone and plugging in an address.

Torres drives all around Pittsburgh for work, a cleaning business she started in 2015.

“I like organizing and fixing things,” she laughed.

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