Latino USA

Author Archive

#1447 – Give and Take

Today: Give & Take. Learn about the impact of President Obama’s action on immigration, the benefits and drawbacks of removing tattoos, and how (as well as how much) undocumented immigrants pay in taxes.

President Obama takes on Immigration

President Obama announced that he’d be acting to change the immigration system, including transforming the Secure Communities program, devoting more resources to border security, and, most controversially, expanding DACA (a.k.a. Deffered Action for Childhood Arrivals). We’ll hear from DREAMers, politicians, a congressional reporter and activists about what President Obama’s action means for them, as well as Congress’ path forward.

Latino USA Producer Camilo Vargas contributed reporting to this story.

MATT-LASLOBased on Capitol Hill, Matt Laslo is a freelance reporter who has been covering Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court for more than five years. While he has filed stories for more than 40 local NPR stations, his work has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, National Public Radio, The Omaha World-Herald, Pacifica Radio, and Politics.



Photo by Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images

Elvira Arellano: The back and forth

In 2002, Elvira Arellano, a Mexican immigrant in Chicago, was arrested for living in the U.S. without papers.

Her deportation order came in 2006, but she refused to turn herself in, claiming sanctuary in the Adalberto United Methodist Church, with her son Saul, a U.S.-born citizen. She was eventually arrested at a demonstration five years later and was deported.

In March of this year, Arellano dared to cross into the U.S. again. All the demonstrators with her applied for asylum together, while their loved ones cheered them from the U.S. side less than a quarter mile away. Arellano and her younger infant son were allowed into the country while an immigration judge decides her case. She rejoined her older son Saul, now 15, and Adalberto’s pastor, Emma Lozano and has been released into the U.S. on parole. 

The photo is of Elvira and a volunteer looking over her immigration paperwork right after she came out of the federal building in San Diego.

A new economic model grows in Cuba

Over the last few years, President Raúl Castro has been slowly liberalizing Cuba’s socialist economy.

The government has begun allowing small, private businesses to operate on the island. And now, it’s been experimenting with turning state enterprises into cooperatives and letting the workers own and run them.

The cooperatives are seen by some as way of opening the country up to capitalism and privatization while maintaining some of the revolution’s collectivist ideals. And so far, Cubans seem to like them.

For the first time in decades, these enterprises give workers a stake in their success, and allow their members to take home the money they earn. Jonathan Wolfe has our story.

Photo by Jonathan Wolfe

Taking tattoos off

Sometimes, in order to gain something, one must give something up. This is the story of how one man removed his tattoos, quit drinking, and became determined to better his life. Emily Wilson reports.

Grandma’s Nice Truck

There are a lot of downsides to fracking and oil extraction: polluted water, dirtier air, lots of new construction equipment. But Cory Spotted Bear sees one silver lining: many of the people in his tribe who never had money are now making a decent living.


Violentology: Images Of Colombia’s War

Since 2012, the Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos has negotiated a peace deal with the FARC, the country’s largest guerrilla group. This week, negotiations came to a screeching halt, as Santos called off the talks after the FARC captured Colombian Army General Ruben Darío Alzate in the northeast of the country. The FARC said they would release the general and two other Colombians that were also captured, as a sign they want the peace process to continue.

A lot hangs on the line in this negotiation. Colombia has been called the biggest humanitarian crisis in the Western hemisphere. “I didn’t realize how severe the conflict is. I had no idea of the scale of it,” says Stephen Ferry, author of the book Violentology: A Manual of the Colombian Conflict. “I guess I just had the idea that a lot of people have that this is all about drugs.”

That was Ferry’s idea of the country when he went there for the first time in 1995, to teach a workshop at the Foundation for The Iberoamerican New  Journalism Foundation, a school founded by Gabriel García Márquez. What Ferry discovered was a complex cycle of political violence, and he spent a decade documenting it. Violentology is the final product of that work.

Watch and listen to our audio slideshow, where Ferry talks about some of the most stunning photographs in his book.

We suggest playing the video full screen. Some of the photographs may be disturbing. 



stephen_ferrySince the late 1980s, Stephen Ferry has traveled to Eastern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East, while always returning to the subjects that he finds important, whether or not they are in the headlines. A fluent Spanish speaker, Stephen has developed an understanding of Latin American culture, society and politics from over 20 years of covering the region. He currently is based in Bogotá.
Stephen’s work has received numerous prizes and honors in the World Press, Picture of the Year and Best of Photojournalism contests.




Photo by Stephen Ferry

Do undocumented immigrants pay taxes?

It’s a common misconception that unauthorized immigrants don’t pay taxes. In fact, it’s a requirement for everyone who works in the U.S., regardless of immigration status. According to data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. paid more than one billion dollars in personal income tax in 2010.

To file taxes, you need a number. If a person isn’t eligible for a Social Security number (and often times even authorized immigrants aren’t) they might need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or an ITIN. Since the Internal Revenue Service says it doesn’t track the immigration status of ITIN users, the government doesn’t actually know how many ITIN filers are unauthorized workers.

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition estimates that there are about 200,000 immigrants living and working in the state who are not authorized to be here. Reporter Sarah reynolds looks at one of the many non-profits that are helping these immigrants file their taxes.


Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Sabiduría: The give and take of writing

A young girl and aspiring writer who is just starting to experience the trials and tribulations of writing regularly meets a seasoned author who has dealt with her own fair share of failures and achievements. They talk about literature and life. They work together on their writing and this relationship has become an inspiring and empowering force in both their lives. This connection was made possible by the organization “Girls Write Now” an after school initiative. In NYC public schools 40% of students fail to graduate on time, 100% of the girls in the project graduate from high school and attend college, two thirds of the girls are at the poverty level or near and one third are recent immigrants. In this piece we turn to Heather (mentor) and Iris (mentee) who share some of their poetry and life experiences with us.


“…I wish someone had told me it’s okay to fall in love with whoever you want

and that gender doesn’t matter when someone makes

you feel elated and important

even if that person happens to be

your best friend

but that’s okay

I wish someone had told me that religion should protect you

and not make you feel

afraid of what you don’t quite


I wish someone had told me that youth,

innocence, and freedom should never

be abused…”


“Brown was her name

Bright were her wings

Lights brought black dreams

To be seen and heard

On a screen

That the world  thought was everyone.

Don’t they know it just crushed men?

And left women slick with oil

On their bodies, barefoot and shining

The flame burns on and more generations ooze.

They dance and sing not knowing where to trod, their lipstick’s smudge on each other.

They are mixed as one.

Don’t trade yourself for the glow, let it go, go deep.

Words will be rewarded, toil and soil, can change the world. “




27870_435476096272_3483191_n (1)Heather Kristin has written for Glamour, Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, among others, and has been interviewed in Elle Magazine and by Oprah. She has recently written a novel about India and a memoir about New York. Heather, a former actress and subway performer, teaches violin to her four year’s old daughter Daisy and has been honored to be a mentor with “Girls Write Now” for almost a decade.





Iris Torres is a current first year student studying Journalism at Rider University. She has been published in the Girls Write Now Anthologies three times. This past May, she received an Honorable Mention at the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her flash fiction piece. Currently she is writing a novel and working on a collection of original poetry prose.         Photo by Emily Turner

This Week’s Captions: Give and Take

Today: Give & Take. Learn about the impact of President Obama’s action on immigration, the benefits and drawbacks of removing tattoos, and how (as well as how much) undocumented immigrants pay in taxes.


Latino USA, the foremost Latino voice in public media and the longest running Latino-focused program on radio, is the first radio program to commence equal-access distribution via Captioning for Radio. “Research has shown that Latino children have a higher incidence of hearing loss and deafness than other populations,” according to Latino USA’s Anchor & Executive Producer Maria Hinojosa. “When the opportunity to break this sound barrier came to our attention, we were pleased to embrace this new technology developed by NPR Labs and Towson University for the thousands of Latinos with serious hearing loss.”
The International Center for Accessible Radio Technology (ICART), a strategic alliance between NPR and Towson University, is co-directed by Mike Starling of NPR and Ellyn Sheffield of Towson University.
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