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Families & Community

The connections that build opportunity.

A house for sale in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Don Norman settles into his chair, and pulls his blanket up to his chest. On the TV, Dick Van Dyke is about to solve a murder.

The room is warm, shades drawn. It’s a good old house. A bit of plaster is coming off the ceiling in the corner, but the house is neat. Every shelf is filled with pictures of family.

Don’s been here 40 years, he says. Ever since he and his wife got pushed out of their last home, when the hospital near them started an expansion and bulldozed their old block.

A photo of 10-year old Justice, aka "Batman"
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Week after week for five years, we’ve played the same clip at the start of every State of Opportunity story. You hear three kids telling us what they want to be when they grow up: a firefighter, a ballerina, and a Batman.

We’ve heard from countless listeners, friends, and even colleagues over the years. And they all want to know: where’s Batman now?

So, as my last story for State of Opportunity, I set out to track him down.

U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT

President Donald Trump said he wanted to go after “bad hombres,” but his immigration policies affect more than just those who are here and have committed crimes. Undocumented immigrants with no criminal history are also being deported. That's the case with a Michigan father of four who's been told he has to leave the country by the end of the month. 

Art museum
Pavel Bibiksarov / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Exposure to the arts improves a child's lifelong outcomes. Arts education increases the likelihood of graduating from high school; attending and finishing college; and makes students more likely to register to vote.

And having access to art and cultural resources may also improve key aspects of social well-being in disadvantaged neighborhoods, according to a recent study.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

With award-winning restaurants and lofts going for half-a-million dollars, Detroit's midtown and downtown areas are hot right now. But the view is different out in the neighborhoods.

flickr/chrisgold CC by-NC

Thousands of young immigrants in Michigan today are living in a state of limbo. 

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to end the Obama administration's deferred action program that allowed these young immigrants to go to school, and work, without fear of deportation. 

back of police officer
Wikimedia Commons

Young immigrants were filled with joy and hope when President Obama signed the executive order called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) almost five years ago.

But today, those feelings of excitement have changed to ones of fear and apprehension.

Rev. Jill Hardt Zundel's church in Detroit provides sanctuary to undocumeted immigrants.
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Eight places of worship in Michigan – in metro Detroit and near Kalamazoo – have officially joined a growing number of churches and synagogues across the country that have agreed to house and protect unauthorized immigrants who fear deportation.

newspaper stand
User Yukiko Matsuoka / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in January on protecting immigrant children following president Trump's immigration-focused Executive Orders.

The statement highlighted the effects that these crackdowns can have on kids, including fear and toxic stress. Those can harm the developing brain and negatively impact both short- and long-term health.

Immigration and refugee policy are pretty complicated topics, and it can be easy to forget about the kids who are in the middle of that political debate. Here's a look back at some recent stories about how that debate is affecting young people here in America and across the world. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents making arrest in Dearborn.
U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT

Miguel and Angel are brothers and they pretty much disagree on everything: TV shows, music, games, even the way they dress. But that stuff’s all pretty minor compared to the big disagreement they have over where they should go if their mom is deported back to Mexico.

Miguel is 14-years old and a proud mama’s boy. He says he never wants to separate from his mom and will go with her to Mexico even though he’s only visited there once, when he was three.

Big brother Angel, who's 15, says he wants to stay here in the U.S. and finish studying.

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