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Policy

How rules and regulation can  shape opportunity.

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. 

parking ticket on car
kdingo / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Traffic tickets are an inconvenient expense. And if they aren't paid within a certain amount of time, you incur costly fees that only make the ticket harder to pay off.

But if you're poor, a ticket can be nearly impossible to pay. And unpaid violations can result in a suspended license or jail time, which means you can't go to work to pay your bills – including the ticket – digging you further into poverty.

Construction workers
University of Salford Press Office / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

You may have heard about the gender pay gap that exists between men and women. Simply put, it's when a man and woman share similar professional factors like educational background, amount of work experience, and hold the same position, yet the woman makes less than the man.

a urine sample.
publik15 / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Zero. That's how many welfare recipients have tested positive for banned drugs since Michigan started drug testing welfare beneficiaries, according to The Guardian.

Governor Rick Snyder signed the legislation in December 2014, and the one-year pilot program began last fall.

Apartment building
Paul Sableman / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Obama administration proposed new rules last week that would help poor families afford to live in more expensive neighborhoods.

Voting sign
Justin Grimes / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Sanders. Trump. Clinton. If you consume even the least bit of news then you probably know we're in the middle of a presidential election cycle, and you may be trying to decide who you're going to vote for.

But as the November election approaches, nearly 6 million Americans won't be allowed to vote at all due to their criminal records.

Happy Baby
Dan Harrelson / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

State of Opportunity has talked a lot about childhood poverty, its effects, how to deal with it, and theories on how to fix it. And while there is no solution for poverty, many countries have found ways to reduce it.

Little boy
David Dennis / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The water crisis in Flint is ongoing. And it's been a while since we've talked about it here at State of Opportunity, so let's catch up.

In January, President Barack Obama issued an emergency declaration for Genesee County in response to conditions in the city.

Residents have been given water, water filters, and testing kits. Federal aid has been provided to supplement state and local efforts.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

In Lansing every year, there is a day set aside as Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day. That day was yesterday. So, on the steps of the Capitol, people got up to speak, children  from an elementary group sang and dozens of people involved in organizations that work to keep kids safe stood in the rain to show their support.

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