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immigration

Sonia Nazario

It's hard to go through a news day without hearing something about, say, border control or that term, fake news. Well, next week, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sonia Nazario will address both topics at a Bakersfield College forum.  Nazario recently spoke with FM 89’s Monica Velez and talks about how she went from being an investigative reporter to more of an advocate for immigrants.

The event “Immigration and Journalism: A Conversation with Sonia Nazario” will be at Bakersfield College on October 9. To register and for more information go to bakersfieldcollege.edu. 

Since President Donald Trump took office there’s been a lot of attention on immigration policies and undocumented people. But, these talks have actually been taking place well before Trump’s candidacy. Here speaking with us is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who also happens to be undocumented, Jose Antonio Vargas. He just released his memoir “Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen" that chronicles his life being undocumented and the emotional toll that takes on him.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

Since coming into office in 2017, President Donald Trump and his administration have instituted a multitude of executive orders and other changes to federal policy that have disrupted the lives of both documented and undocumented immigrants. Closer to home, however, fraud and deceit here in the San Joaquin Valley are also hindering immigrants, many of whom are already legal or are pursuing legal paths to citizenship.

Monica Velez

The Alomari family arrived in the San Joaquin Valley from Yemen in June. They settled into a small apartment in Visalia and have been adjusting to their new lives. 

Now that they’re thousands of miles away from the Yemeni civil war, things are a lot better than they used to be. Nageeb Alomari, a U.S citizen, went to Yemen to bring his wife and three daughters to the U.S because their living conditions were getting dangerous, especially for one of his daughters, Shaema. 

PICO California

Ever since President Trump came into office, we at Valley Public Radio have been reporting on his administration’s changes to federal immigration policy—like its so-called “zero tolerance policy” of prosecuting asylum applicants as well as rollbacks on temporary protected status from certain countries—and their consequences on San Joaquin Valley residents and businesses.

Monica Velez

The soft chatter in the waiting room at the Yarra Law Group offices in Fresno are muffled by a Food Network show playing on TV. Receptionist tap their keyboards and answer phone calls. 

A 23-year-old woman from El Salvador, who we’ll call Ana, is among the dozen people in the room. A receptionist calls her name and she goes in to see her immigration attorney, Jeremy Clason. He’s preparing documents he’ll eventually file with the immigration court in San Francisco. She speaks to him softly as she begins to tell her story.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Recent arrests of undocumented immigrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials inside Central Valley courthouses from Fresno to Sacramento have sparked controversy. But as Valley Public Radio's Monica Velez reports, such arrests aren't new.

Monica Velez

About eight years ago Mirsa Urias was working at a restaurant in Bakersfield. She was the only person working up front and says it was business as usual until one man entered.

“He pointed a gun at me and said I had to give him money," the 30-year-old says in Spanish. "I gave him money and he went running out of the store and threatened me before that. He said if I didn’t give him the money he would shoot me.”

Flickr user Derek Dirks, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Working 11 hours shifts in corn fields in Mendota is some of the hardest work to do. Add school and immigration court to the mix and you might start losing track of the days, like one teenager who recently moved to the Valley.  

“I would wake up at 11 at night to make food and leave at about 12:15,” he says in Spanish. “We go into work at 1 a.m. and get off at noon that day.”

Monica Velez

Jose Robles scrapes up handfuls of dried chilies into a bag for one of his customers at the Cherry Avenue Auction in Fresno County. He’s been selling chilies and other vegetables at flea markets in the San Joaquin Valley for 19 years.

But business has gone down, he says, mostly because people are scared to leave their homes.

Monica Velez

We’re standing in the middle of 350 acres of table grapes just outside of Selma. Soon they’ll be on tables everywhere. Water drips down on the roots of the vines to keep them hydrated in the sweltering heat.

The shade of the grapevine arches keep a person, we’ll call Bob, cool. He’s a grower and labor contractor. He agreed to talk to Valley Public Radio anonymously because he fears being vocal could spur a visit from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Christina Lopez / KVPR

People in cities across the country marched and rallied over the weekend against separation of families at U.S. borders. On Saturday, nearly one thousand individuals participated in the Families Belong Together march and rally in Downtown Bakersfield.

PICO California

About 50 people across the San Joaquin Valley packed their bags and headed to a detention center in San Diego. 

The group represented Faith in the Valley, an organization that advocates for immigrants, low-wage workers and former inmates. Trena Turner,  the executive director, says they went to the Otay Mesa Detention Center, which has been open for three years, to protest the effects Trump’s policy has had on families.

Laura Tsutsui

Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions made changes to the qualifications of those seeking asylum in the United States. Now, people fleeing domestic or gang violence no longer qualify for asylum. 

To be granted asylum, people have to prove they’re in fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion. An immigration appeals court during the Obama administration ruled those fearing domestic and gang violence fall into the “social group” category. Sessions overturned that decision.  

University of Arizona Press

Five years ago, Valley Public Radio brought you the story of one man’s search for names that it seemed had been lost to history. Fresno author Tim Z. Hernandez was searching for the families of the 28 passengers who died in a plane crash in western Fresno County in 1948. The passengers on the U.S. Immigration Service flight were Mexican nationals en route from Oakland to El Centro.

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

We’re standing in a fridge that’s the size of a two bedroom apartment at Food Link Tulare County. The ice box is stacked with produce and dairy products that will soon be in the fridges of Tulare families. Development director for the food bank, Nicole Celaya, says some families who need food won’t get food.

Fresno County Sheriff's Office

Local law enforcement and elected officials met with President Donald Trump today in Washington D.C. They discussed California’s sanctuary state policies and how they’ve impacted communities. As Valley Public Radio’s Monica Velez reports, one county sheriff thought the meeting was productive.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said she wants to see Fresno County say “we don’t agree with SB-54,” which restricts when state law enforcement can interact with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities. She said they discussed strategies to have full disclosures with ICE.

Fresno County Sheriff's Office

Last year California lawmakers passed legislation that limits communication between local law enforcement agencies and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials. Recently, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department made national headlines by attempting to bypass that law by publicly posting the release date of inmates online. It’s a practice that Fresno County has been using for years.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Despite California’s status as a sanctuary state, it appears to be the focus of increased immigration activity—especially after a sweep in Northern California earlier this week that drove Oakland’s Mayor to issue a warning to her residents and ultimately resulted in more than 150 arrests. Closer to home, a San Joaquin Valley resident who was recently ordered to leave the country, despite years of being allowed to stay and an appeal from a top lawmaker.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Last week we brought you an investigative story about a secretive building in downtown Fresno that’s being used to process individuals coming into custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. There’s no sign on the building, its address is not listed on the agency’s website, and immigration attorneys are concerned about the detainees’ access to due process.

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