immigration | WAMC


U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono is the first Asian American woman and the only immigrant currently serving in the U.S. Senate.

In her new book, "Heart of Fire," Senator Hirono chronicles her evolution from a dogged yet soft-spoken public servant into the fiery critic and advocate we know her as today. Hers is a uniquely American story, of immigrating to a new country in search of a better life and then dedicating her own life to advocating for her constituents.

Personal stories explain her stance on healthcare, immigration, family separation, and education—and readers are given fly-on-the-wall access to Congress, where Senator Hirono reveals how the governing body functioned before and after the Trump administration came to power.

Book cover for "Marriage Story"

Born and raised in Gloversville, New York, Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Richard Russo returns to that place in his new Scribd essay, "Marriage Story: An American Memoir." The essay chronicles his parents’ lives and why their marriage foundered.

Ultimately, however, he asks a broader question: Is America going through its own breakup story? Can the divides between rich and poor, black and white, red and blue, educated and not, be overcome or are they irreconcilable differences that will end up pulling the nation apart?

Book cover for "A Beginner's Guide to America"

Roya Hakakian is a lauded Persian poet turned television producer with programs like "60 Minutes." She became well known for her memoir, "Journey from the Land of No" in 2004, which won Elle Magazine's Reader's Choice Award.

She writes frequent essays on Iranian issues in the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and on NPR. Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008, Roya published Assassins of the Turquoise Palace in 2011, a non-fiction account of the Mykonos restaurant assassinations of Iranian opposition leaders in Berlin. Her new book is "A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious."

Sarah Rogerson /

Donald Trump campaigned for the presidency in 2016 with a pledge to bring down illegal immigration, famously blaming undocumented migrants from Mexico for a host of problems, including drugs and crime. In the four years since, how has this rhetoric translated into a wider immigration policy?

Immigration has not been a central theme of the race between Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, but the future of some of the president’s hard-line policies at the border will be determined by the final results.

Albany Law School professor and director of the Immigration Law Clinic, Sarah Rogerson joins us to discuss.

Book cover title artwork for "Homeland Elegies"
Little Brown /

Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His latest work is novel, "Homeland Elegies," a deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams. It blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in a world that 9/11 made.

The new book, The Deportation Machine, traces the long and troubling history of the US government's systematic efforts to terrorize and expel immigrants over the past 140 years. Professor of History and Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois and author Adam Goodman examines how federal, state, and local officials have targeted various groups for expulsion.

Protester Ivy Hecht speaks to demonstrators outside the Rensselaer County Jail on Thursday
Lucas Willard / WAMC

Protesters greeted the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Troy on Thursday. The setting was notable. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports on the ongoing immigration debate in the Collar City.

Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence speaks in Troy
Lucas Willard / WAMC

The acting head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement made a stop in the Capital Region today to take a stand against a New York law that prevents immigration officers from accessing state motor vehicle information. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo dismissed the press conference as political theater.

Burlington City Hall
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The Burlington City Council had a number of items on its agenda Tuesday evening that kept it working into the early morning hours.  But a resolution that will not be considered for another two weeks brought protesters to the council chambers and led to more than an hour of public comment.

The New Colossus” tells the true stories of twelve refugees from twelve different time periods, fleeing from violence and oppression in a journey toward freedom. In the play -- which will be at Proctors in Schenectady, New York on Friday, February 7 and Saturday, February 8 -- a group of actors from all over the world tell their ancestors' stories, all woven into a single narrative about escaping their homeland and coming to America.

“The New Colossus is co-written by The Actors’ Gang Ensemble and their Artistic Director and Co-Founder Tim Robbins who also directs. The Actors’ Gang was founded in 1981 and is based in Culver City, California.

Academy Award winning actor, Tim Robbins is best known for his films “Bull Durham,” “The Hudsucker Proxy,” “Mystic River,” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” He directorial film credits include “Cradle will Rock” and “Dead Man Walking.”

Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York is holding its annual Pro Bono Celebration later this month.

Berkshire Theatre Group presents "What The Jews Believe" at The Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, Massachusetts through October 20. The play is presented in association with The American National Theatre

Dave and his family still live in the old home built by his father in rural Central Texas, and they are still the only Jewish family in town. His son Nathan feels isolated attempting to understand the family’s beliefs, while his wife Rachel faces an even greater crisis of faith. Meanwhile, Dave struggles to maintain a sense of normalcy for his searching family.

Written and directed by Mark Harelik, "What the Jews Believe" is a poignant story about the loss of faith and the journey to find it.

The conference “Migration & Mental Health” will be held at SUNY New Paltz on October 11.

The conference focuses on providing psychological and psycho-social support for immigrants, especially those living in extreme situations. The theme of this eighth annual conference is “Gender, Place and Identity.”

Director of Athena Network New York Maria Elena Ferrer and Athena Network New York member/part of the conference steering committee Gerry Harrington.

Josh Landes / WAMC

Last month, 17 Berkshire County residents from 13 countries and 10 communities became naturalized citizens at a ceremony at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. WAMC was there, and filed this audio postcard.

Edwidge Danticat author photo and book cover for "Everything Inside"
Lynn Savarese

Edwidge Danticat’s new book “Everything Inside” is a collection of stories about community, family, and love.

Set in locales from Miami and Port-au-Prince to a small unnamed country in the Caribbean, “Everything Inside” is at once wide in scope and intimate as it explores the forces that pull us together and drive us apart.

Anne Richard
Hamilton College

Immigration policy has been a top political issue in Washington for years, becoming increasingly divisive. Part of the debate includes how the United States handles people seeking refugee status in America. Anne Richard, a former assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration, is now a visiting professor at Hamilton College. She is presenting a lecture on refugee policy at the private liberal arts school in Clinton, New York at 7 p.m. Thursday.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
U.S. Senate

It seems clear at this point that immigration will a key issue in the 2020 elections — both for president and in the all-important campaigns for U.S. Senate. Jeff Merkley is taking that fight on full bore. The second-term U.S. Senator from Oregon, a Democrat, is out with a new book called “America Is Better Than This: Trump’s War Against Migrant Families.” 

A number of Vermont immigration advocates are on their way to Dover, New Hampshire, as part of a call for changes to the nation's immigration system.

Federal law has long required immigrants who are seeking permanent resident status to prove they won’t be a burden on taxpayers.

The Arts Mid-Hudson Folk Arts Program, Latinx Project, the Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History, the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center, and Kingston City Hall present “The Spaces Between;” a series of exhibitions and programs facilitating exploration of the social spaces of marginalized status in American culture.

“The Spaces Between” challenges traditional views of "marginalized status" by considering the many ways people can be marginalized, including the undocumented community, the LGTBQ community, and the immigrant community through an exploration of statuses related to race, gender, and sexual identity. The project runs through September.

Elinor Levy is the Folk Arts Program Manager at Arts Mid-Hudson and she joined us to tell us more.

One Friday, my wife helped organize the local Lights for Liberty rally against the border detention camps. Then on Saturday, we joined with our local elected officials recognizing my great Grand Uncle Albert Downing, an immigrant who gave his life serving his adopted country in WWI. And On Sunday, the President slandered my Congresswoman, Ayanna Pressley, with racist taunts and jeers. Sadly, this weekend seemed to capture every aspect of immigration debates during the Trump presidency - hate, history and hope competing for what will shape our future. I am optimistic it will be hope, but hope is not enough. 

A data center operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Williston, Vermont will be the focus of a protest march this weekend.

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin speaks out against the Green Light Bill in April 2019
Lucas Willard / WAMC

Officials in Rensselaer County are combatting the recently signed Green Light Bill, a state law that allows undocumented immigrants the ability to apply for a driver’s license. The officials say they will provide voter registration data to federal immigration authorities.

Rep. Delgado, Delegation Visit U.S. Border Facilities

Jul 19, 2019
U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Flickr

A New York congressman from the Hudson Valley is part of a delegation that is visiting facilities at the U.S. border Friday.

Farming has been in John Connell's family for generations, but he never intended to follow in his father's footsteps. Until, one winter, after more than a decade away, he finds himself back on the farm.

Connell records the hypnotic rhythm of the farming day—cleaning the barns, caring for the herd, tending to sickly lambs, helping the cows give birth. Alongside the routine events, there are the unforeseen moments when things go wrong: when a calf fails to thrive, when a sheep goes missing, when illness breaks out, when an argument between father and son erupts and things are said that cannot be unsaid.

"The Farmer’s Son" is the story of a calving season, and the story of a man who emerges from depression to find hope in the place he least expected to find it.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy; Albany City Police Chief Eric Hawkins
Composite Image by Dave Lucas

In response to unrest generated in Washington, Albany County has launched a webpage designed to assist local undocumented immigrants.

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses President Trump's renewed call for four Democratic congresswomen of color to get out of the U.S. "right now," the Trump administration's new asylum rule meant to slow the flow of Central American migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, and former Vice President Joe Biden's plan to expand the Affordable Care Act as he seeks the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Troy Mayor Vetoes Sanctuary Measure

Jul 13, 2019
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden (file photo)
Lucas Willard / WAMC

The Democratic mayor of Troy, New York has vetoed a measure passed Thursday night by the common council as part of a move to declare Troy a sanctuary city.

The Trump Administration is planning a nationwide immigration enforcement action this weekend. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids will target migrant families in 10 major cities, raising concerns among immigrant-rights advocates across our region.

Immigrant advocates display a banner that reads ''sanctuary everywhere." File photo.
Lucas Willard / WAMC

The debate over whether Troy should classify itself as a Sanctuary City has returned.