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By PRI | Stories of a Changing America from PRI

California's gardens tell an immigrant story

The people who run California's ever-buzzing leaf blowers, weed whackers and lawnmowers are almost always Latino immigrant men. They call themselves jardineros, Spanish for gardeners, and it’s their labor that gives curb appeal to so many homes, keeping lawns neatly trimmed, hedges pruned and weeds …


Escaping from North Korea was just the beginning for this American immigrant

When Kenneth Rowe stepped off a plane in San Francisco and began his new life in America, he made national news. It was 1954, the height of the Cold War, and Rowe had escaped from North Korea in dramatic fashion just a few months earlier.

He stole a Soviet-made North Korean MiG-15 fighter jet and …

North Korea

You're a Muslim who's not supposed to date. How do you find love?

The first time Arif Shaikh's parents met was on their wedding night.

"The only evidence that they had that the other person existed before their marriage night was simply a small black-and-white picture and the good wishes of a couple of relatives," he says. "That's all they knew."

Shaikh's parents …


The federal government is pushing back against Texas' immigration block

On Thursday, the Justice Department filed an appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to remove the block against President Obama's immigration action, citing the policy as a matter of public interest and national security.

The block by a Texas judge of Obama action has meant that hundreds of …


Ever thought you were on a watchlist? Share your story

Fauzia Din, a US citizen from Afghanistan, says her husband is being refused entry to the US because of suspicions that he is involved in "terrorist activities." Stories like this seem to be increasingly common, though they rarely make it into the public eye.

We want to change that.

Fauzia's husband …

Nelson Mandela

Why one woman's fight to be with her husband wound up at the Supreme Court

Sometimes, it can take a while to get a visa. But Fauzia Din’s dilemma is of an entirely different magnitude.

Nine years ago, it appeared that Din’s husband in Afghanistan would receive a US visa without much problem. Din is a US citizen and she had recently married Kanishka Berashk in Kabul. Her …

Supreme Court

Somali Americans fight to save their lifeline of cash for relatives back home

Abdi Awali has a routine he's followed every month for years: He heads to a money-transfer business by his house in Minneapolis, gives the teller some basic information and slides $100 through a slot. Then he logs onto Facebook and checks in with his aunt in Somalia.

Yes, she got the cash. Confirmed.


Fifty years after Selma's 'Bloody Sunday,' immigrants join fight against racism

On Sunday, it will 50 years since 600 civil rights activists marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to push for their right to vote.

It was known as 'Bloody Sunday' — by the time marchers reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, they were met with water hoses, clubs and were savagely beaten. …

Civil Rights

A Mexican series finds overlooked stories of immigrants in America — including one from The World

Journalists love to tell stories, but they're not always fond of being the subject. But that's exactly what happened to radio producer Betto Arcos, who frequently covers music from Latin America for PRI's The World.

Arcos is featured in a 15-part Mexican documentary series called "Los Otros …


What is it like to wait for action on immigration? Ask an undocumented immigrant

Among the things Laura López wants to tell people about being undocumented is one simple fact: It's not easy.

“It takes a toll on people’s lives. Not just materially, you’re drained mentally for all the years that you've been here,” she says. "It's harder than people think, to pack up your bags and …


America's first all-female mosque is receiving praise — and some pushback

Southern California may be the land of Hollywood and movie glamour, but it's also home to the one of the country’s largest Muslim populations. Hasna Maznavi is at home in both of those worlds.

Maznavi, who's a comedy writer for a living, recently opened a mosque. It's something she dreamed about …


Koreatown's 'ghostbusters' usher in good luck for the Year of the Goat

According to the lunar calendar, we're now officially in the year 4713, the Year of the Goat — or the Sheep, or the Ram. It’s a major holiday in many Asian countries, and Korean communities around the US celebrate it with a street festival called jishinbalpki, which literally means “to step on the …


Mexico's 'hints of homophobia' make living there a challenge for a gay American

Omar Solis was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and moved to Denver with his family when he was two years old. He's now 21 and back in Mexico, studying international relations at the Technical Institute of Monterrey. He's also openly gay.

He says it's not easy being a gay man in Mexico, but things are


The US government finally lifts the curse of the 'golden cage' visa

H-1B visas are among the most coveted tickets into the United States. Each year, the US government issues about 85,000 of them, mostly to highly skilled tech workers who settle in places like Silicon Valley. But the spouses of H-1B visa holders weren't allowed to work or forge their own lives in …


I tried to push away memories of farm work, but shopping for food brings them back

When I was 10 years old, I began working regularly with my family as a migrant farmworker. I'd done it previously, but only on Saturdays, to help them catch up when tornado warnings ended work early or when the patches of weeds were particularly thick. The summer of my fourth grade year, it became …


Diversity isn't just an Oscars problem, it's a Hollywood problem

It's Oscars night and, by now, most of you know all 20 of the best acting nominations went to white actors. The lack of diversity has spawned protest, analysis and, of course, hashtags. (See #OscarsSoWhite and #WhiteOscars to start.)

This year's selections have a decent international showing, but …


Don’t give up on Obama’s executive action on immigration, advocate says

Law professor Virgil Wiebe is bullish: This week's court ruling that halted some of President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration will be overturned, he says.

“The reason why there's a lot of confidence that the ruling will be overturned is that, for better or worse, courts and Congress …


Undocumented immigrants play the waiting game after the White House pauses immigration action

Eleazar Valdez was ready to get his teaching career in motion.

A master's degree in Latin American literature under his belt and a passion for education, the 37-year-old was eager to teach Spanish. In the meantime he's been making ends meet by shooting wedding photos and baby showers, catering for a …

President Obama hits pause on his immigration plan. Now what?

The blowback was expected.

In November, when President Barack Obama unveiled executive actions to protect up to an estimated five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, his Republican opponents vowed to block those moves.

Late Monday evening, the first significant legal hurdle surfaced. US …

As the US government courts Iranian students, one university says 'no, thanks'

American sanctions against Iran have basically worked the way the US hoped they would: They're taking a big bite out of Iran's economy, and the two countries are negotiating toward a deal on Iran's nuclear program.

But sanctions are also having an unintended side effect: Some Iranian students are …


Donations pouring into slain Muslim American's fundraiser for Syrian refugees

The legacy of two slain Muslim dental students will now provide many Syrian refugees with dental care and supplies.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, was coordinating a trip to a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey this summer with a group of dental students from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where …

A hidden history of Spanglish in California

To truly explore the early roots of Spanglish, we have to go back to the dawn of the Dons.

Picture California in the early-19th century, when Los Angeles was known simply as the little "pueblo" and "Alta California" as the region was then called, was still a part of Mexico.

And living in the a rancho …


How undocumented high-schoolers from Arizona beat MIT at the nation's top robotics competition

In 2004, four teenagers from an impoverished Arizona high school entered an underwater robotics contest. They had no money, and even less experience, but the robot they created, dubbed “Stinky," went head to head with the engineering geniuses at MIT — and won.

It's the kind of true story Hollywood …

Meet 'Average Mohamed,' a gas station manager who's using cartoons to fight ISIS recruitment

Mohamed Ahmed is hardly average, but the gas station manager in Minnesota uses the monicker "Average Mohamed" with pride.

The 39-year-old Somali-American businessman by day has turned activist by night, creating the website "Average Mohamed." It's a series of animated cartoons voiced by Mohamed …

What's it like to be a migrant farmworker? One anthropologist lived and worked alongside them.

Seth Holmes, a doctor and anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, spent more than a year and half with migrant farmworkers from Mexico — many of them are from the same isolated town in the southern state of Oaxaca — for his book “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in …

How the produce aisle looks to a migrant farmworker

In the produce aisle of a supermarket in Madera, in California’s rural Central Valley, Francisco surveys the fruits and vegetables on display in the produce aisle. He’s 40 years old and stocky. He's also undocumented, and he asks to use his first name only.

For years, he’s picked produce in Mexico …

What's the best thing to bring on your band's tour? Proof of citizenship

Chhom Nimol is the lead singer of the Los Angeles-based band Dengue Fever. And now, she's also a citizen of the United States.

"Dreams come true," she says.

Nimol has been waiting 14 years to become a citizen, and it finally happened last October in a ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Now …

A story on Russian immigrants in Hawaii prompts a reader's tale

You know the saying "It's a small world?"

Well, we ran a story by Alina Simone last week about Russian immigrants who moved to Hawaii in the early 1900s to work the island's sugar plantations. The story included a vintage photo of a Russian family — a couple and their teenage daughter. And when …

Obama's immigration plan might convince some farm workers to ditch the fields

From the outside, it looks like a simple, one-story home in the small city of Madera, California. But step inside and you'll find a household numbering 23 people, all related, with roots in the same village in the arid highlands of Oaxaca.

Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico, is one of its country's …