Immigration | WABE 90.1 FM


John Amis, File / Associated Press

Federal authorities have revoked the protection from deportation granted to a Mexican woman who became a cause celebre in the debate over illegal immigration when she was a Kennesaw State University student seven years ago.

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Immigration authorities last week terminated 29-year-old Jessica Colotl's protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The next day, a government lawyer asked an immigration judge to issue a deportation order.

Georgia sick leave laws, Georgia SB 201

The Georgia legislature sent a bill to Thursday night to the Governor’s desk that would broaden the definition of domestic terrorism and setting mandatory sentencing requirements for the crime.

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In this June 22, 2016, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in New York.
Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

Thursday on "Closer Look With Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Georgia Department of Driver Services

Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the label “noncitizen” to be printed on driver’s licenses issued to people without U.S. citizenship, including those with legal permanent residency.

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The Georgia Department of Driver Services currently prints the phrase “limited-term” on licenses for people who are not U.S. citizens, but who are in the country lawfully.

John Bazemore, file / Associated Press


Karen Handel is running for Congress, but she said she didn't have anything to do with a recent fundraising letter that claims she aims to "end Muslim immigration."

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Canada's Trudeau Talks Trade With Trump At White House

Feb 13, 2017
President Donald Trump welcomes Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeatedly stressed their commitment to working together after their first face-to-face meeting Monday.

The neighboring leaders, polar opposites in nearly every way, took up the thorny subjects of trade and immigration, with Trudeau eager to build a relationship with the new U.S. president.

Elly Yu / WABE

According to a new report from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Georgia could lose millions of dollars if President Donald Trump follows through with promises to crack down on illegal immigration.

On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to end an Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program provides temporary deportation relief for some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. It also lets recipients get work permits. So, many pay taxes.

Protesters stand outside of the South Domestic Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Sunday. The Atlanta airport protest was among several that occurred in airports across the country.
Alison Guillory / WABE

A few thousand people crowded outside the Atlanta airport Sunday to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration order. They packed onto the sidewalks and some of the lanes outside the airport’s south terminal with drums, megaphones and a lot of signs.

Clarence Alston’s sign was nearly wordless, but captured his general dismay about Trump’s presidency.

“My sign says, ‘Nah Bruh, NOPE.’ Because it captures what I can’t put into a more eloquent phrase,” he said.

Craig Ruttle / Associated Press

A federal judge issued an emergency order Saturday night temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to President Donald Trump's travel ban, saying travelers who had been detained had a strong argument that their legal rights had been violated.

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in New York issued the emergency order after lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union filed a court petition on behalf of people from seven predominantly Muslim nations who were detained at airports across the country as the ban took effect.

President-elect Donald Trump calls to media from the entryway of Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016 in Bedminster, N.J..
Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

President Donald Trump has barred all refugees from entering the United States for four months, and indefinitely halted any from Syria, saying the ban is needed to keep out "radical Islamic terrorists."

The order Friday immediately suspended a program that last year resettled in the U.S. roughly 85,000 people displaced by war, political oppression, hunger and religious prejudice. Trump indefinitely blocked those fleeing Syria, where a civil war has raged, and imposed a 90-day ban on all immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim majority nations, citing terrorism concerns. 

Immigration activists hold signs and shout during a protest in front of a building that houses federal immigration offices Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, in Atlanta. Eight activists, protesting deportations of people who are in the country illegally, were taken
John Bazemore / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court failed to rule last week on an expansion of President Barack Obama’s 2012 immigration plan. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, provides temporary protection from deportation for some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Courtesy of Marie

Update on June 23, 11:32 a.m.: The Supreme Court has ruled in a 4-4 tie vote, which leaves in place a lower court decision blocking President Barack Obama's DAPA immigration program.

Marie*, 21, has a lot on her mind.

“I worry. I worry all the time,” she said.

She said she worries that her parents will be deported, leaving her and her two younger sisters behind in their suburban Atlanta home.

“If they leave, it’s just – it would hurt the family,” she said.

Kate Brumback / Associated Press

The Obama administration is openly stepping up efforts to find and deport immigrants who were part of the 2014 surge of illegal crossings by unaccompanied children and families.

The politically fraught endeavor is a follow-through on a nearly 2-year-old warning that those immigrants who don't win permission to stay in the United States would be sent packing. It comes at a time when Republican presidential candidates are pushing for tougher immigration action.

David Goldman / Associated Press

A national nonprofit that represents children who’ve fled violence in Central America is opening an Atlanta office. The organization, Kids in Need of Defense, or KIND, was founded by actress Angelina Jolie and Microsoft Corp. 

Christina Iturralde is the supervising attorney for KIND's new Atlanta office. She says unaccompanied minors who arrive in the U.S. have to go through two systems: immigration court and juvenile court. But, she says, few attorneys handle such cases.

Looking Forward To 2016: Immigration

Dec 30, 2015
Elly Yu / WABE

The WABE news staff is looking ahead to the big stories and issues of 2016.

Reporter Elly Yu is following immigration issues, including President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration.

"Georgia, along with 25 other states, sued the president over this policy. This is a policy that would grant undocumented immigrants deferred action from deportation and some benefits like work permits and Social Security numbers," Yu says.

The U.S. Supreme Court may decide to take up that lawsuit.

Emiko Soltis / Freedom University

A group of about 40 people held a silent protest this week during a Georgia Board of Regents meeting. The demonstrators oppose a rule that bans students without legal permission to live in the country from the state’s top five colleges and universities and requires them to pay out-of-state tuition rates at the others.

Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, many students may be protected from deportation for two years and allowed to work.

Actor Bill Cosby addresses a gathering at the 34th Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2004, in Washington.
Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

Wednesday on "A Closer Look with Rose Scott and Denis O'Hayer":

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal delivers his budget address at the state Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Atlanta. Deal spoke Thursday afternoon to lawmakers charged with reviewing his $45 billion spending plan. Deal limited his comments Thursday to criminal
David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal downplayed the state’s role in accepting refugees fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa. His remarks come as the federal government considers increasing the number it will allow into the country next year.

Speaking at an event in downtown Atlanta Wednesday, Deal said the state has no real control over how many refugees the state would take in. He said that resettling people is a federal issue.  

Martha Dalton / WABE

Getting Americans out to the polls during election season can be difficult. It can be even tougher in immigrant communities. Asian and Latino populations usually have lower voter turnout rates than Caucasians and African-Americans. But a local organization that launched an effort to get Korean Americans to vote says it’s making progress.

The Atlanta chapter of Asian-Americans Advancing Justice started a grassroots effort last year, called 10,000 Korean Votes. AAAJ-A’s executive director, Helen Kim Ho, says it’s a multi-year initiative.

It can be hard moving to the U.S. from another country, especially for a teenager. Imagine taking a high school test on Shakespeare when you barely speak English – while trying to make new friends, graduate, get a good job and help your family get out of poverty. 

About 15 percent of children in Georgia’s immigrant families were born in other countries, according to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  Quite a few who came here as teenagers live in DeKalb County and attend Clarkston High School.  

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., listens to a witness during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues hearing on overview of U.S. policy t
Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

U.S. Sen. David Perdue from Georgia called the number of criminals who are in the country illegally a "national security crisis" at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. 

Perdue cited a number from the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that opposes illegal immigration, which estimates there are more than 340,000 immigrants in the country illegally with criminal records. 

"I would argue that this is a national emergency. It's absolutely outrageous, in my opinion," Perdue said. "I don't think there are any innocent parties in this debate."

StoryCorps Atlanta

Killa Marti is an immigration attorney in Atlanta. Her mother was a lawyer, as well, practicing for more than three decades in their native country of Honduras, which was cited last year by the U.N. as one of the world’s most dangerous nations.

Several years ago, Marti's mother was gunned down while being driven in her car. In the StoryCorps Atlanta booth, Marti talks with her husband, Ivan Marti, about the incident and her mother’s legacy as a lawyer. 

This story was recorded in partnership with Lutheran Services of Georgia. 

Immigration authorities may start housing transgender detainees based on the gender they identify with following criticism about detention conditions for the population.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released proposed guidelines Monday that say staff should consider a transgender detainee's preferences when making decisions about housing and clothing and what pronouns to use.

Atlanta Lawyer Details Awful Conditions Inside ICE Centers

May 15, 2015
an employee of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., waiting for the front gate to be opened so she can enter.
Kate Brumback / Associated Press

Immigrants fleeing gang violence in Central America have languished in federal detention centers – some for almost a year now – after traveling across the U.S southern border by the thousands last summer. The majority of the detainees are women and children.

After harsh criticism over prison-like conditions, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, announced new policy changes this week that could help improve conditions for the immigrants at the detentions centers.

Courtesy of Catherine Han Montoya's Facebook

Atlanta’s advocacy community is grieving the death of Catherine Han Montoya, a human rights activist who was the victim of an April 13 homicide.

Montoya, who described herself as a “Queer Chicana Korean Feminist,” represented a number of causes, including LGBT rights, immigration policy and Asian-Pacific Islander issues.

Her activist work in Atlanta included numerous organizations, including the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network, which she co-founded.

White House officials said President Barack Obama is offering federal funding to state and local agencies and certain nonprofit groups in Georgia that responded to the mid-February storm.
Jim Bourg / Associated Press

Georgia along with other 25 states will face the Obama administration in a federal appeals court in New Orleans on Friday over the president's executive action on immigration. 

In November, the president announced programs that would grant deportation relief and temporary work permits for some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as a child or immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizen children. 

Oliva Saldivar is a mother of two U.S. citizen children. The Sandy Springs resident said she hoped to apply for the president’s plan so she could get a work permit.

Laura Emiko Soltis / Freedom At Emory University

For the first time, some undocumented students admitted to Emory University will be able to qualify for financial aid.

Starting in the fall, Emory will offer needs-based financial aid for students with federal Deferred Action status. Emory senior Andy Kim co-founded the group Freedom at Emory University, which fought for the change.

“Although it’s an extremely positive step forward, and we’re very happy with the results we’ve had at Emory, it’s still important to note the larger issue at hand,” Kim said.

Michelle Wirth / WABE

On Tuesday, the Georgia Senate defeated a proposal that would have banned those with deferred action from getting a Georgia driver’s license.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program came from executive actions taken by President Barack Obama. It allows many who arrived illegally as children to temporarily stay in the U.S. and apply for work visas. Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, tried to add language to a House bill that would have prevented those with deferred action status from getting driver’s licenses.

Courtesy of Imagine Our Norcross

The city of Norcross is partnering with Georgia Tech to study the city’s growing immigrant population.

More than 40 percent of people in Norcross were born in another country. According to the 2013 American Community Survey, Latinos and Asians make up about 60 percent of the population.

Mayor Bucky Johnson said there’s a gap between the city and its immigrant population and is hoping this study will allow the city to learn about serving its diverse residents.

Elly Yu / WABE

President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration in November would have protected millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported, including some parents of U.S. citizen children. But several lawyers in Georgia say that hasn't always been the case in the past several weeks, ever since a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction to halt parts of the president's plan.