Global Nation

By PRI | Stories of a Changing America from PRI

In a small Texas town, a new private detention center for transgender migrants brings jobs — and concerns

When Leah Aguilera was held in a special section of the Santa Ana City Jail in California for transgender people, who were being detained by immigration officials, she experienced a delay and pushback for her request for hormones and disparaging remarks for being transgender.<p>“The only thing I was …

Transgender

The reconciliation of Mark Wahlberg

The list of actor Mark Wahlberg’s offenses is not inconsequential. At 16, during an attempted robbery, he pummeled a Vietnamese man with a wooden stick and knocked him unconscious. Later the same day in 1988, he punched another immigrant from Vietnam and allegedly peppered him with a racially …

Mark Wahlberg

Way more migrants are now sneaking across the US-Canada border

Canadian border officials are spotting a noteworthy trend: The number of people sneaking in from the United States and asking for asylum has gone way up.<p>One popular route leads into Quebec. Families lug suitcases “over a little ditch,” as one resident described it, to avoid passport …

Canada

Undocumented New Yorkers worry about the future of the city's ID program

One of the first things Ana Maria did when she got her New York City ID card was go to the library — to get books. Information. She checks out CDs and magazines, too, to practice her English.<p>But she also checks out poetry in Spanish.<p>I met Ana Maria at a church in Staten Island. She's an …

Culture

Some persecuted writers get a new life in the US. But exile isn't easy.

Tuhin Das was just 16, living in Bangladesh, when he started writing poems and editing a magazine — and getting noticed.<p>His writings called out the persecution of Hindus and atheists, religious minorities in Bangladesh. But they infuriated some fundamentalists who thought Das was anti-Islam. When …

Islam

Advocates suggest another option for US-bound Central Americans: Stay and work in Mexico

It’s like sharing ghost stories, but these are real.<p>Late in the evening, Esteban and his new friends at the Adolescentes en el Camino shelter in Mexico City are sitting around a kitchen table, trading tales about their journey. All of them are young Central Americans traveling on their own, hoping …

Mexico

On the way to the US, children seeking asylum are often put in Mexico’s detention centers

Carlos was so scared inside the Mexican immigration detention center that instead of telling officers he was fleeing El Salvador after gang threats, the 16-year-old asked to be deported back to his country.<p>He shouldn’t have had to make that choice. Because, according to Mexican laws, as a minor he …

Mexico

Winning over hearts and minds one pu pu platter at a time

There are about 50,000 Chinese restaurants in America — more than three times the number of McDonald’s in this country.<p>Most of these restaurants are independently owned, but there’s a sameness to them: the takeout boxes, the fortune cookies and often, the same menu, with chop suey, lo mein and egg …

Restaurants

The little

A lot of us have been thinking about the late Carrie Fisher and the movie role that made her famous: Princess Leia, the tough Star Wars fighter who helped save the Empire.<p>And there’s that iconic hairdo: two giant buns pressed against the sides of her head.<p>But for Alexandra de la Rocha, a big Star …

Star Wars

After Trump’s victory, a city debates offering ‘sanctuary’ to undocumented immigrants

"So, how do we go about this? Do we create a timeline?”<p>Isabel Lopez, an immigrant rights activist, stands in front of a chalkboard at a meeting in the back of a church in Brockton, Massachusetts, a town just an hour’s drive south of Boston.<p>Lopez, the leader of a group called the Brockton Interfaith …

Immigration

In sanctuary cities, immigrants find themselves with few real protections from federal officials

For immigrants with a criminal record, sanctuary cities don’t provide protection from deportation. They can, though, delay the process.<p>In Philadelphia, a year-long probe ended last month when Immigration and Customs Enforcement caught a man with convictions for manufacturing and selling illicit …

Crime

Pozole, songs and the things that survived colonization

My grandmother is singing. She never sings any more — she says she's no good at it. But when she cooks, she lets go of that sort of thing, if only for a short while.<p>I've been begging her for weeks to teach me to make pozole. It's a savory stew brimming with hominy and ancho chilies. Our ancestors …

Colonization

For this Venezuelan, Christmas isn't Christmas without hallaca

It's that time of year when many Americans turn to time-honored traditions of Christmas carols, eggnog and kissing under the mistletoe.<p>In our search for holiday traditions outside the US, we came across a Venezuelan tradition: Hallaca.<p>Resembling tamales, hallaca is a staple of Venezuelan …

Christmas

This woman was attacked for speaking Swahili. In court she forgave her attacker.

Asma Jama's face still bears the scars from the attack that took place in October 2015.<p>It happened at an Applebee's restaurant in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. She was having dinner with her family and they were speaking in their native language: Swahili. As they were chatting, another customer who was …

African Languages

Halfway through med school, undocumented students worry Trump will derail their progress

Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, 24-year-old Julio Cesar Ramos didn’t know he was undocumented. He was in 10th grade when he had to fill out an application to go on a field trip that required him to include his social security number.<p>“I went back and asked my mom what’s my social …

Medical Education

What is often called 'illegal immigration' isn’t really treated as illegal

I’m a news reporter and I’ve been writing about Mexican immigration for many years. Last month, I covered an anti-Trump rally in Memphis, Tennessee, where I live.<p>At one point the protesters chanted, “Let's be loud! Let's be clear! Immigrants are welcome here!”<p>I tweeted the chant. Responses came …

Immigration

20 years ago, asylum seekers were not automatically put in immigration detention

On February 26, 1993, a group of Islamic extremists parked a rental van with a 1,300-pound homemade bomb in its trunk underneath the World Trade Center in New York City. The subsequent explosion killed six people, injured more than 1,000 and was the largest terrorist attack on US soil at the …

Immigration

The US has already tried registering Muslims. It didn't work.

Last week, comedian Mohammad “Mo” Amer sat next to Eric Trump on a flight. He told him: "I’m not going to get a Muslim ID number. Bullshit. I’m not doing it."<p>Perhaps, for some Muslims in America, his response provided some relief. According to Amer, President-elect Donald Trump's third child …

Terrorism

They gave her the keys to the mosque — and now she wants to open its doors to the neighborhood

Ever so carefully, Alyssa Ratkewitch pulls out an old Quran from the shelf. She cracks it open, exposing the aging, fragile pages covered in handwritten Arabic script.<p>“This is one of the handwritten Qurans we have,” the 31-year-old native Brooklynite says. It’s older than most anyone can remember, …

New York City

Trump’s labor pick, a fast-food CEO, supports a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor takes a dim view of efforts to raise the minimum wage, but has a soft spot for undocumented immigrants.<p>Andrew Puzder is a fast-food CEO. He’s the head of CKE Restaurants (which runs fast-food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., and Green …

In North Carolina, an immigrant church braces for the Trump administration

It’s Sunday in Raleigh. Outside, the trees are shivering in the winter chill. And in a deserted strip mall, the evangelical <i>Iglesia</i> <i>Ciudad De Dios</i> — "City of God Church" — starts its worship.<p>It’s a young church, with a corporate newness — there’s a screen for spiritual PowerPoint presentations. But …

Muslims in Utah feel a little betrayed by Mormon neighbors who voted Trump

In the wake of the US presidential election, a Utah mosque has opened its doors to the non-Muslim community. They’re holding Friday night information sessions called, “Meet the Muslims.”<p>The Utah Islamic Center is tucked inside a strip mall in Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Shoes fill the …

At Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were victims of the attack — and their own government

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese navy launched a surprise military attack against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu. The attack not only brought America into World War II, but raised suspicions of citizens and immigrants of Japanese descent.<p>The full …

Trump’s nominee for Homeland Security spent the final part of his military career working south of the border

There are many ways that President-elect Donald Trump has begun the process of doing exactly what he promised on the campaign trail vis-a-vis immigration. He’s chosen for his cabinet hard-liners on immigration and continued his tough rhetoric on who we allow into the US as refugees.<p>We’re reporting …

How a Lebanese immigrant helped pave the way for the study of Islam and Muslim culture in the US

By 2020, every high school student in California’s public and charter schools will be able to take at least one ethnic studies class.<p>It’s thanks to a bill that California state Rep. Luis Alejo and the California Latino Legislative Caucus. In doing so, they joined the ranks of educators, students, …

California will soon provide ethnic studies classes for all high schoolers. Here's why.

In a second-floor classroom at San Francisco’s Washington High School, David Ko is leading freshmen in a discussion about bullying. But it’s not the typical conversation about treating others nicely.<p>“We’re learning about power — political, economic, social — our race, ethnicity, culture, …

Refugees in Pennsylvania keep musical traditions alive with kids' songs

Marta Sam is surrounded by really energetic 4-year-olds. She’s at St. Martin’s Day Care in Erie, Pennsylvania, guiding the kids as they sing and dance.<p>Sam sings in Arabic, then English. She takes the students through a Congolese song, followed by "Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed." The kids …

A North Carolina family grapples with very different takes on the immigration debate

It’s nearly impossible to find Fred Bronson’s house at night. It’s right outside of Raleigh in a suburban neighborhood dotted with bodegas and small restaurants. The road is bumpy and it’s pitch dark.<p>After yelling a couple of hellos into the night, Fred steps out of the house. He’s a large man …