During a lesson on the civil rights movement and Rosa Parks, a young Latino boy asks, "Where did we sit on the bus?" His teacher couldn't answer the question. That boy is now an adult, and he's performing a one-man show about his experience as a first generation American. Brian Quijada's performance, available through Geva Theatre, is a remarkable and entertaining blend of music, dance, storytelling and truth.

We preview his performance and talk about growing up in two cultures. Our guest:

We hear the stories of young people who have come to Rochester as immigrants or refugees. A new book called "Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from Upstate New York High Schools" chronicles their journeys through a series of essays written by the students themselves. They represent 15 countries and Puerto Rico. Some of their families fled violence, natural disasters, and economic insecurity. Others sought better health care, education, and job opportunities.

While the students' paths to America were different, they share a common goal: to adjust to and find acceptance in their new homeland. In their essays, they share the challenges they've faced and the hope they have for their new lives. They will read their essays during an upcoming virtual event, but first, they join us on Connections. Our guests:

"I Was Their American Dream" is a graphic novel by NPR deputy editor Malaka Gharib. Gharib is Egyptian-Filipina-American and grew up with her immigrant parents in California. Her book explores her multicultural identity and how she felt she had to adapt to different traditions, languages, and religions with the different people in her life.

Nguyên Khôi Nguyễn, also an author, can relate. His work focuses on his identity as Vietnamese-American.

Both Gharib and Nguyễn join us this hour to share their stories and to discuss what it means to be a first-generation American in 2020. Our guests:

Joseph Celestin, Immigrant Defense Project

Immigration advocates gathered Tuesday in Albany to urge state lawmakers to pass a bill that would prohibit U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from making arrests in and around local and state courthouses. 

Mizue Aizeki with the Immigrant Defense Project says that for the past five years, the organization has been monitoring ICE community arrests in New York state. She says since 2017, there’s been an uptick in courthouse arrests.

Photo provided by Dolores Bustamante

A judge with the U.S. District Court in Western New York issued a temporary restraining order on certain aspects of a new farmworkers fair labor law late on Monday, two days before the law took effect. 

Judge Lawrence Vilardo ruled that New York state is prohibited from enacting some aspects of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act. 

Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

On July 16, an Orleans County family found themselves the target of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation. 

“I would have never thought this would happen to one of my close family… it’s just unbelievable,” Cody Gomez said.

“My uncle was going to work and he got pulled over by the ICE patrols and he got detained. Gone to Batavia,” Gomez added.

ICE Officers arrested Antonino Hernandez-Bautista and brought him to a federal detention center in Batavia.

The Monroe County Legislature on Tuesday night voted 17 – 10 authorizing County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo to sue New York State over the new ‘Green Light Law’ which allows driver's licenses to be issued to undocumented immigrants.

Dinolfo says the county’s pending lawsuit will assert, among other claims, that the new law violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by putting citizens and non-citizens on unequal footing under the law.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials without a judicial warrant may no longer enter New York courthouses in order to observe or arrest immigrants, according to new rules from the Chief Administrative Judge of the New York Unified Court System.

Immigration advocates have pushed for the change for two years, after ICE began aggressively pursuing immigrants for arrest in and around state courts.

'Necessity': Those in U.S. illegally are pushing for license to drive

Apr 8, 2019
Veronica Volk/WXXI News

ALBION -- Dairy farm worker Luis Jiménez gambles every time he drives without a license. Even a minor traffic stop could alert immigration agents that he is in the country illegally and lead to deportation.

But in the wide-open spaces of upstate New York's farm country, supermarkets and job sites are often too far away for walking, there's not always somebody around to give you a ride, and catching a city bus or subway just isn't an option.

A number of local faith-based groups are coming together to help refugees who served the U.S. military. The refugees – from Afghanistan and Iraq – have come to America on Special Immigrant Visas through an organization called No One Left Behind.

We discuss the current climate for refugees in the U.S., and we talk to local refugees about how they are adjusting to life in Rochester.

  • Ellen Smith, president of the Rochester chapter of No One Left Behind
  • Belal Ahmadi, interpreter for the U.S. military who arrived in the U.S. from Afghanistan in January 
  • Bashir Qayyum, interpreter for the U.S. military who arrived in the U.S. from Afghanistan in January 
  • Rev. Ken Pitcher, Grace Church, and executive director of Refuge Rochester
  • Rev. Jacqueline Nelson, Asbury First United Methodist Church
  • Rabbi Peter Stein, Temple B’rith Kodesh
  • Vicki Robinson, Messiah Lutheran Church
  • Chandee Searcy, member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints