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:

We discuss climate migration. According to the New York Times, one percent of the world today is a barely livable hot zone; by 2070, that percentage could increase to 19 percent. Millions of people around the world have left their homelands to escape extreme weather conditions that have destroyed crops and ways of life. Researchers say that number will only increase due to the effects of climate change. The California wildfires have left many Californians asking if they should move. Last February, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown declared his city a climate refuge. Rochester has become home to thousands of people from Puerto Rico fleeing the damage of Hurricane Maria.

This hour, we discuss climate migration from a number of angles. Our guests:

On Monday, the New York Times reported on a new immigration rule proposed by the Trump administration: the President is considering allowing border officials to temporarily block American citizens or permanent legal residents from returning to the country if there's reason to believe they have been exposed to or have contracted the coronavirus. Meanwhile, land borders between the U.S. and Mexico and the U.S. and Canada remain closed to nonessential travel. While the administration says the move was made to curb the spread of COVID-19, immigration advocates say the closure of the border with Mexico seemed designed to curb migration to the U.S.

This hour, we examine these issues from a legal perspective and also in regard to travel, tourism, and the economy. Our guests:

  • Danielle Rizzo, immigration law attorney with Harris Beach
  • John Percy, president and CEO of Destination Niagara USA
  • Corey Fram, director of tourism for the Thousand Islands International Tourism Council
  • Josiah Brown, president and CEO of New York Welcomes You, and creator of the "New York's Best Experiences" Travel Guide


A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to halt a public charge rule in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The rule is also known as a “wealth test,” since any immigrant who qualifies for and relies on public assistance like Medicaid or food stamps could be denied a green card or visa. It had been in effect since February.

photo provided by Anu Joshi

While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Trump administration cannot immediately shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, the New York Immigration Coalition says more needs to be done to recognize immigrants’ humanity.

The 5 to 4 ruling is seen as a narrow victory for immigrants and their loved ones who feared possible deportation had the ruling gone the other way.

Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

Local businessman and attorney George Mitris announced his bid for Congress on Monday morning. Mitris, a Republican, will be running for the 25th Congressional District seat, currently held by Democrat Joe Morelle. This will be Mitris' first run for public office.

Mitris said that mitigating the effects of lakeshore flooding is one of his top priorities.

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. 

Max Schulte / WXXI NEWS

Deaf refugees often have histories of being oppressed and marginalized in their nation of origin. Advocates in Rochester have organized to help folks adapt and become self-sufficient here in New York state -- folks like Sangita and Purna Kami.

Sangita Kami has been deaf all her life. Her husband, Purna, says he was born hearing, but became deaf after he fell from a tree when he was 8 years old.