WUOMFM

Dustin Dwyer

Reporter/Producer

Dustin Dwyer is a reporter on the State of Opportunity project, based in Grand Rapids. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.

In 2010, Dustin left journalism to be a stay-at-home dad. Now that his daughter Irene is turning two, he's happy to be back at Michigan Radio, where there are far fewer temper-tantrums. 

Ways to Connect

rows of desks in classroom facing chalkboard
User neoproton / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There are more than 90,000 kids in Michigan schools whose primary language is not English.

The number of these English language learners has grown 45 % in the past 5 years, according to data from the state of Michigan.

That has districts, and the state, scrambling to train teachers to help these kids learn.

Dan King / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Salvation Army is a crucial resource for many people all year round. It provides housing assistance, food assistance, utility assistance and all kinds of other help to people in need.

And around the holidays, that effort ramps up with Christmas assistance.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio


For more on this, read our previous blog post.

The morning after the election, I reached out to a number of people I’ve interviewed in the past who are immigrants, or who work with immigrants.

 

It’s fair to say there was shock, some in mourning. Some worried for the future. One mother wanted to know how she can set up guardianship for her kids in case she’s deported. She’s been in the U.S. since she was a child. She now has legal status through the Obama administration’s deferred action program. But Trump has promised to end that program.

 

Lots of people who previously felt safe now don’t.

 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Donald Trump made a lot of campaign promises on his long path toward the presidency. But one of his signature issues from the very beginning was immigration. Trump has said repeatedly he plans to deport every one of the estimated 11 million people living without papers in the United States. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

It doesn't take long for a line to form to try at the new virtual reality headset. 

Right as the event gets started inside the basketball gym at the MLK Leadership Academy in Grand Rapids, the kids spot the headset and want to try it. Nine-year-old Sydney McKinney is one of the first to get a chance. 

Jamie Rykse was sent to an adult prison after a home invasion when she was 17. "I had been to hell and back," she says now. "I needed help."
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

For the past few years, a campaign has been building to change how Michigan handles 17-year-olds who commit crimes.

As it stands now, those 17-year-olds are automatically charged as adults, and – when convicted – sent to adult prisons.

Advocates say Michigan is one of only seven states in the nation that still do this. And, in the next few weeks, they’re hoping to finally push through a law to change it.

The law already has a lot to say about turning 18. That’s the age you can vote, the age you can join the military, and buy a pack of cigarettes.

User: geishabot / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

For this story, I have two hats. One is my reporter hat. The other is my dad hat.

I like the daddy hat.  

But I do still have this reporter hat over here. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately with my reporter hat about my beautiful, perfect little boy. Because, the truth is, he is at risk.

And I’ve been thinking about this risk because of what’s been in the news lately – about how men talk and act toward women. And what’s considered normal for those things.

flickr user trishhhh

If you are in an abusive situation and you need emergency shelter or transitional housing, you can search for resources in your community at domesticshelters.org.

A few years ago, I was tagging along with a social worker on a visit with one of her clients. The social worker was Joni Cook, she works with the Maternal Infant Health Program at Cherry Health in Grand Rapids. We sat in the living room, with her client, who was cradling a beautiful new baby girl.

And things seem to be going well. But then the client started telling Cook about the baby’s father. She broke down as she talked about him hitting her. She was terrified of what he might do next.  

"She felt very unsafe," Cook said to me this week. "And I remember her saying the people who are supposed to be protecting me are not protecting me."

flickr user fleshmanpix

On a brightly-lit stage inside a massive convention hall in downtown Houston, Texas, Ainslya Charlton made her introduction.

"You can call me Ace," she said, as her friends cheered. 

Out in the audience, away from the lights, were of nearly 1,000 people assembled for what was billed as the nation’s largest-ever gathering of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

woman speaks in front of crowd
Courtesy of Sarahi Nieves

The following is a transcript of the State of Opportunity documentary Out From the Shadows: Living Undocumented, which you can hear at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. today.

Sarahi Nieves’ parents brought her to the U.S. when she was 7. She didn’t have papers, but she grew up here. Then she had a son, a U.S. citizen. And she had to explain what it means to be undocumented in America.

“How can you tell a four-year-old, if we don’t do this, if we don’t go through this, we might be taken apart?” she said.


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