WUOMFM

Policy

How rules and regulation can  shape opportunity.

jail cells
miss_millions / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Holding people in jail because they are too poor to make bail is unconstitutional, the U.S. Department of Justice declared in a court filing last week.

The filing came in support of the case of Maurice Walker of Calhoun, Georgia, who was kept in jail six nights because he could not pay the fixed bail amount of $160.

President Bill Clinton
Gage Skidmore / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton signed a welfare reform bill he said would "end welfare as we know it."

The goal of the bill was to get poor families off welfare and into the workforce.

Families caught in middle of "broken" immigration system

Aug 10, 2016
woman in blue shirt
Courtesy of Susan Reed

Politicians proclaim it. People argue about it. We hear it often:  "Our immigration system is broken."

But what exactly does that mean?

That’s a tough question to answer.

The U.S. immigration system is a complex and often confusing web of policies. Those policies touch everyone from the migrant farm worker to international Ph.D students. For years now, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called for an overhaul of our immigration system.

collage of three photos
Flickr CC

 

Throughout your day, you’re likely meeting undocumented workers everywhere you go: the server at a restaurant.The stylist at the salon.The yard worker cutting your lawn.

 

“You can’t really go a single day without encountering one of them,” said Teresa Hendricks, the director and senior litigator for Migrant Legal Aid in Grand Rapids. “Although you wouldn’t know it because they’re living under the radar.”

 

headshot of Tel Ganesan
Courtesy of Tel Ganesan

Much of the national debate about immigration reform focuses on unskilled foreign-born workers.

But there’s another side: the highly-skilled foreign-born worker who has the knowledge and skills that businesses so badly need.

Tel Ganesan is the CEO and president of Kyyba, Incorporated. It’s an engineering services and software product company based in Farmington Hills.

Two undocumented students discuss their diverging fates

Aug 10, 2016

Two young immigrants in Michigan caught in the middle of an immigration stalemate are Daniel Lopez and Sendy Lopez.

The two friends are not related. Daniel came to the United States from Guatemala when he was seven. Thanks to the 2012 executive order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Daniel is now among some 700,000 young people who are protected from being deported.

Flazingo Photos / flickr cc / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

If you follow State of Opportunity regularly, you make have noticed us talk before about "ban the box" policies.

The "box" is the question that asks about a job applicant's criminal history. These policies are designed to prohibit employers from inquiring about this until later in the hiring process, so that people with records aren't automatically shut out of the job market.

Affordable housing under construction
Mark Hogan / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

For every 100 extremely low-income households in the U.S., there are only 29 adequate, affordable, and available rental units, according to The Urban Institute.

So you would think with such high demand the solution would be simple. Just build more low-income housing, right?

Well, it turns out building affordable housing is not so affordable.

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.


Wikimedia Commons

Right now, somewhere around 11 million people are living "illegal" lives in the United States. That's close to one out of every 30 people in this country, going about their daily business under the threat of deportation. Many have lived in the United States for years, even decades. Many came to the United States at such a young age, they don't even remember life in another country. They may consider this country home, but the paperwork doesn't. The law doesn't. 

These parts you already know. 

But how did we get to this point? 

Tomorrow, we'll air our latest State of Opportunity documentary, Out From the Shadows, which follows the lives of undocumented families in Michigan. But we also spent time looking at the history of immigration law in the United States, to try to better understand how the laws have changed over time, and how so many people became excluded. 

And it's a fascinating history. 

Pages