Labor unions have a big stake in immigration reform

May 1, 2013
Adrian Florido

As head of the 800,000-member Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Maria Elena Durazo is one of the nation’s most powerful union leaders, and a key player in the ongoing immigration reform negotiations. But before her current post, she led a hotel workers’ union. She said one of the hardest parts of the job was convincing workers who were in the country illegally to organize. They feared they could be easily fired, and she said that fear had rippling implications.

The hotly anticipated bill to overhaul our nation's immigration system is expected to be presented Tuesday by a bipartisan group of senators. At stake are the lives of at least 11 million — that’s the number of people living here without proper immigration documents.

From articles, interviews and tweets, we've pieced together what the proposal has in mind for different types of immigrant populations — long-term illegal residents, farm workers and felons, to name a few.

Luis Flores

Tucked away in the student center at University of California Berkeley, the Undocumented Student Program is designed to be a national model. It makes college possible for students without legal status.

Access to legal counsel proves challenging for immigrants

Mar 12, 2013

You would never notice it if you were walking by, because there are no signs, but San Francisco's immigration court is on the eighth and ninth floors of a nondescript office building here on Montgomery Street in the city's financial district. Immigrants can get a notice to appear here if they are facing deportation or applying for asylum. The people outside are here without lawyers. When I asked a man if he had a lawyer, he told me he wasn't sure if they'd let him see a judge or not.

The immigrant experience is meant to be a smooth one, full of promise. Ideally, people from developing countries come to America for better work, education, human rights and, overall, and a better future for their children.

However, many of these stories turn out to be not as polished as that narrative. Immigrants often need to learn a new language, navigate a new system, face realities they never have before, and find their way in a new adopted country. Their hopes are high, and sometimes they end up unmet.

Fraudulent lawyers prey on immigrants

Mar 4, 2013

When criminal defendants can’t afford to pay for a lawyer, the court will appoint them one for free. But not all defendants have that right. If you’re called to immigration court, for example, you have to hire a private attorney. If you can’t afford one, you’re on your own. Many agencies provide free legal services to immigrants in these situations, but these agencies are overwhelmed. And even immigrants who can afford an attorney have to be careful who they hire. Some unlicensed practitioners prey on unsuspecting immigrants to make easy money.

On today's Your Call, it's our Friday media roundtable and we’ll speak with Pilar Marrero, senior political writer for La Opinion about her new book, 'Killing the American Dream: How Anti-Immigration Extremists Are Destroying the Nation." Marrero explores history of immigration in the US from 1986 when reform received bipartisan support, to today. What's in store for the future of immigration reform and how are the media covering these issues? It’s Your Call, with Rose Aguilar

As the summer comes to a close, young adults are saying goodbye to their hometowns, families, and friends as they move on to higher education. But for those who are undocumented, the path to college is much more complicated, a process that many take for granted.

In most parts of the country, students without legal status aren’t eligible for financial aid or scholarships. There is also a lack of guidance from parents, because most students are the first generation to attend an American university. Then there is the constant fear of being deported.

On today's Your Call, we’ll talk about the new program that allows a limited path to employment for immigrant youth.  It is being called the “Dream Act, lite.”  Is this a step towards more comprehensive immigration reform?  Or is it just an election-year strategy to win votes?  Join us at 10am PST or post a comment here. What is the ongoing reality of undocumented people in the US today? It’s Your Call with Holly Kernan, and you.


Jose Arreola, outreach manager with Educators for Fair Consideration

Ashleyanne Krigbaum

This morning, thousands of young undocumented immigrants became eligible for temporary legal status due to the implementation of President Obama's policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which is considered the most expansive immigration policy to take effect in the past 25 years. The federal initiative grants access to work permits and temporary protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Flickr user Robert Couse-Baker, under CC License /

It’s been a busy season for immigration issues. In June, President Obama announced that he would halt the deportations of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors. A week and a half later, the Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070.

(San Jose Mercury News) // Monday's Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's controversial immigration law upheld the mandate for a police officer to ask for a person's immigration papers after stopping them. In California, the law is not so different from Arizona's, but enforcement varies widely and is often up to the discretion of individual officers…

American-born children struggle to adapt in rural Guatemalan town

Apr 24, 2012

The issues of birthright citizenship, and so-called anchor babies, have a way of flaring tempers. For now, anyway, the children of illegal immigrants born in this country are allowed to live here with the same rights as any other citizen, assuming they were born in this country. But it often happens that the children don’t live here once their parents are caught and sent home. In a joint report from the Fronteras public radio project, Peter O’Dowd and Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez visited a small town in Guatemala, where more than a dozen American children live.

Chuck Finney is joined by Antonio Nierras, a Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law, to discuss updates in Immigration and Nationality Law. 

Twenty-three-year-old Alejandro Jimenez is an honors student at the University of California, Berkeley. He’s scheduled to graduate in May. “And it’s been worth it,” he says. “It’s been tough, but nothing we’re doing or we’re having is easy.”

Is Poor Communication Leading to Immigration Mistakes?

Mar 13, 2012
Photo courtesy of

How much is poor communication between the agencies that handle immigration and border security a factor in costly mistakes that affect immigrants in the system? A lengthy report based on an investigation by Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General doesn’t directly answer that question, but it does make a good case that improvements are needed.

Image courtesy of the Migration Policy Institute

One post earlier this week mapped the top 10 states with the biggest foreign-born population growth since 1990; another post took a look at the states that since 2010 have enacted anti-illegal immigration laws. Among these are five states that since then have enacted strict laws similar to Arizona’s SB 1070, which the U.S. Supreme Court is set to weigh in on next month.

California Assembly Speaker John Perez will introduce a bill today that reduces the cost of public, four-year university tuition for California students from families that make less than $150,000. The plan would cut the tuition by two thirds, returning it to levels not seen since more than a decade ago. If enacted, the bill will help students from families with incomes too high to receive financial aid, but not high enough to pay for their children's education on their own…