DACA, A Student's Story: “They Are The Types Of Immigrants You Want In Your Country”

A sign is held up by the White House in support of the DREAMers and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, on Sept. 5, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration will “wind down” DACA.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Dan Lee rarely talks about his status as a DACA recipient. Apart from having close family and friend confidants, the secret of being in the country illegally has weighed heavily on Lee ever since he learned he didn’t have the proper paperwork in high school while applying for a job.

In an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin, Lee remembers being 15 and thinking “What is the point of me doing anything if I’m not going to able to have a career or be able to, I guess, be ‘normal’?”

Lee’s parents brought him to the U.S. from South Korea in the hopes of giving him an American education. From what he can gather from his parents, they tried to pursue citizenship but ended up falling victim to an immigration scam.

Lee is part of about 20 percent of DACA recipients who came to the U.S. from Asia. South Koreans make up the majority of that demographic.

Because of DACA, Lee was able to get the documents needed to get a job and apply for school. Today he’s a fourth-year political science student at American University in Washington D.C.

With news that President Trump has rescinded DACA with a six-month delay, he wanted to speak out.

“There are 800,000 people just like me,” Lee says. “People who have full-time jobs, attending school. They are the types of immigrants you want in your country.”

Interview Highlights

On why his immigration application didn’t go through

My parents, they were scammed by a supposed immigration attorney and [they] didn’t speak English. They didn’t know how the American system worked. They didn’t know the laws here and they just assumed, “Oh, if we hire an attorney, everything will work out.” Turns out it didn’t.

On his life before DACA was introduced

I see that Congress has tried to tackle immigration reform so many times and they’ve mostly failed over and over again and I realized that there’s just simply no hope and I was going like, “What is the point of me even trying in school? What is the point of me doing anything if I’m not going to able to have a career or be able to, I guess, be ‘normal’?”

On waiting to learn the fate of DACA

It’s like when you’re on a chair and you lean a little too back and you’re just about to fall, right? And it’s like feeling that perpetual falling feeling. I just want to be able to know if I’m going to be able to keep what I built here. I want to be able to one day own a house, have a family, have a job and watch football on Sundays peacefully.

On challenging claims that DACA recipients are criminals and welfare babies

In order to receive DACA, you need to pass a criminal background check. Not only that, you have to pay money to apply for DACA. It’s close to $500, and compounding with the fact that you have to give your biometrics and the fact that you’re not eligible for any sort of social benefit in the United States.

NPR intern Shana Daloria produced the audio version of this story.

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Roald Dahl's Widow Says Charlie From 'The Chocolate Factory' Was Originally Black

British writer Roald Dahl (1916 – 1990), in December 1971.

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Charlie Bucket, the hero of Roald Dahl’s famous children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which also inspired two films and a British confectionery company, was originally written to be a “little black boy,” according to an interview with Felicity Dahl, the author’s widow.

She spoke earlier this week on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, alongside Roald Dahl biographer Donald Sturrock, who said it was the writer’s agent “who thought it was a bad idea” and had the author turn the protagonist white.

“People would ask why (Charlie was black),” Sturrock quoted the agent as saying.

The BBC interviewer followed up by suggesting a new rewrite of the book that would recast Charlie as a black child, to which Felicity Dahl responded, “it would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?”

Roald Dahl originally wanted Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be black #r4todaypic.twitter.com/h2P4NkI78f

— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) September 13, 2017

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which a boy from an impoverished family in Britain finds the fifth and final ticket to win a tour of the factory run by eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, was just one of many wildly successful children’s classics written by Dahl that also inspired major motion pictures.

Others include James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Matilda and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Although beloved by many, Dahl faced numerous accusations of racism both on and off the printed page.

Perhaps most notably, the NAACP called on Dahl to alter his portrayal of the famous factory workers known as the Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the book’s original publication, they were described as African pygmies whom Wonka discovered, then shipped to his factory to use their labor. Dahl transformed the Oompa Loompas into orange-tinted factory workers with green hair in subsequent editions of the book.

In 2016, The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, posted a series of anti-Semitic quotes attributed to Dahl, including, “there is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity.”

NPR reached out to the Roald Dahl organizations for a response to The Forward’s quotes and more generalized critiques of racism, but did not hear back before publication.

The actor who played Charlie Bucket in the 1971 film adaption, Peter Ostrum, was white — featured in the film with a blonde side part. As reported on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sundayin 2005, after starring in the original movie, Ostrum never acted in another film and went on to become a veterinarian.

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A Mostly Typical Saturday In Washington, D.C.: Political Rallies — Plus Juggalos

People gather for a rally during the Juggalo March, at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, Sept. 16, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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Al Drago/Getty Images

As a rule of thumb, it is not big news when multiple political rallies overlap in the same weekend in the nation’s capital, a prime setting for anyone trying to send a message to governmental power.

But there are exceptions to every rule. And certainly, in this case, an exception for a large gathering of Juggalos airing their grievance against the Federal Bureau of Investigations. (More on this later.)

Downtown Washington, D.C. was home Saturday to three prominent demonstrations that some feared might combine violently but they instead stayed largely separate and peaceful, with modest attendance.

The self-described “Mother of All Rallies,” designed to support President Trump and “defend American culture,” was staged on the National Mall for late Saturday morning.

Here we go. The Mother of All Rallies @NPR@wamu885pic.twitter.com/DDqxiHsRDt

— Sasha-Ann Simons (@SashaAnnSimons) September 16, 2017

Around the same time and several blocks away near the White House, was a separate rally to “Protect American Democracy,” which organizers say was meant to tell the president to take a tougher stance against Russian interference in American elections.

The rally garnering the most attention was “Juggalo March,” an assembly set near the Lincoln Memorial of so-called Juggalos, fans of the horrorcore rap duo Insane Clown Posse who often wear face paint, tattoos and other symbols worn by the band’s members. The march was described on its website as “a collective statement from the Juggalo Family to the world about what we are and what we are not.”

ICP was founded in 1989 and, despite disdain from many in response the group’s crude and sometimes violent lyrics, developed a considerable and dedicated following of Juggalos. (The term derives from a 1992 ICP song, as NPR’s Tanya Ballard Brown reported.)

In a 2011 report, the FBI classified Juggalos as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang” following violent incidents allegedly committed by fans of ICP. Juggalos, in tandem with the ACLU, sued the government in 2014, claiming Juggalos’ “constitutional rights to expression and association were violated” by the FBI’s classification. The case was first dismissed then later reinstated.

The Juggalos say the gang label has, through unfair discrimination, made it difficult to live a normal life for many of their members, some of whom were scheduled to speak on stage in Washington on Saturday as part of the effort to express their anger to the FBI.

“We are taking our [sic] fight to the streets. Literally,” said a statement on the “Juggalo March” website.

As for politics, however, the “Insane Clown Posse and most Juggalos consider themselves very apolitical,” pop culture writer Nathan Rabin told NPR’s Scott Simon.

By the account of reporters from NPR and WAMU present on the national mall, the crowds at all three events were enthusiastic but modest in size.

People gather on the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, to attend a rally in support of President Donald Trump in what organizers are calling ‘The Mother of All Rallies.”

Susan Walsh/AP

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Susan Walsh/AP

The pro-Trump “Mother of All Rallies” featured a float with signs saying “secure our borders” and “drain the swamp” and drew some prominent names from the so-called alt-right, including Jack Posobiec. The rally’s organizers wrote on their websites that Confederate flags and racism would not be allowed, clearly hoping to distinguish themselves from the march of white supremacists that turned deadly last month in Charlottesville, Va.

Nevertheless, as NPR’s Windsor Johnston reported, some counterprotesters attempted to tie the MOAR rally to Charlottesville, including one who held a sign featuring an image of the woman killed by a motorist there.

A counterprotester at the “Mother of All Rallies” in Washington, D.C. Saturday holds a sign remembering Heather Heyer, who died at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. last month.

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Officials kept all three protests far from each other, which, along with a heavy police presence, appeared to keep the Saturday events peaceful, reported WAMU‘s Sasha-Ann Simmons.

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U2 Cancels St. Louis Concert After Protests Over Police Acquittal

The Edge, (L) Bono and Larry Mullen Jr. of rock band U2 perform on stage during their ‘The Joshua Tree World Tour’ opener at BC Place on May 12, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada.

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U2 has cancelled its Sept. 16 concert in St. Louis, Mo. due to security concerns, according to a statementshared by the band and Live Nation. The cancellation follows protests in the city prompted by the acquittal of a former police officer charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a black man.

As NPR reported, on Friday, Jason Stockley, who is white, was found not guilty in the 2011 killing of Anthony Lamar Smith. The verdict resulted in protests throughout St. Louis. According to ABC News, 32 people were arrested in the protests and 10 officers were injured.

Live Nation and U2 offered the following statement:

“We have been informed by the St. Louis Police Department that they are not in a position to provide the standard protection for our audience as would be expected for an event of this size.

We have also been informed that local crowd security personnel would not be at full capacity.

In light of this information, we cannot in good conscience risk our fans’ safety by proceeding with tonight’s concert. As much as we regret having to cancel, we feel it is the only acceptable course of action in the current environment.”

U2 is currently on tour performing its 1987 album, The Joshua Tree. The cancelled St. Louis concert was set to take place at The Dome at America’s Center.

The St. Louis Symphony also canceled last night’s long sold-out performance of “Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets — In Concert,” citing safety concerns.

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Lawmakers Vote To Make California A 'Sanctuary State'

Delilah Gutierrez holds a sign during a protest against President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on immigration in San Francisco.

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

California is poised to become a so-called “sanctuary state” after its legislature passed a bill Saturday that would establish new protections for people who entered the country illegally and send a clear signal of defiance against the Trump administration’s tough approach to immigration enforcement.

The “California Values Act” would forbid state and local law enforcement agencies from providing information to or acting as the deputies for federal immigration authorities. The bill also prohibits police and sheriff officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status.

The bill was introduced just before President Trump’s inauguration and met opposition from some in California law enforcement, including many local sheriffs who lobbied Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown to intervene, as KQED‘s Scott Shafer reported.

A compromise hammered out earlier this week between Brown and California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León carved out exceptions to the new restrictions.

The changes allowed state and local law enforcement to communicate with federal immigration authorities if a person has been convicted of certain crimes. Corrections officers would also be permitted to work with federal agencies.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk where he is expected to sign it.

Democrats used supermajorities in the state capitol to pass the bill they viewed as important to highlighting California’s stance on shielding its estimated 2.3 million undocumented immigrants from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“This bill here today helps some of us to believe that California is a safe place for immigrants, that we are a Golden State,” said Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, the grandson of immigrants who came to California illegally.

While the revisions earlier this week disheartened some immigrant advocates, the compromise also awarded them additional victories. For instance, immigrant inmates would now be allowed to earn credits to reduce their sentences if they complete educational or rehabilitative programming while incarcerated.

Republicans in the California legislature remained opposed to the measure on Friday, saying it would tie the hands of law enforcement and compromise public safety.

“A lot of people talk about building a wall. This bill builds a wall between the federal government and our local partners and makes our communities less safe,” said James Gallagher, a Republican assemblyman.

The exceptions created in the compromise earlier in the week were also not enough to win support for the bill from the California State Sheriffs’ Association.

“Our overarching concern remains that limiting local law enforcement’s ability to communicate and cooperate with federal law enforcement officers endangers public safety,” the CSSA said in a statement.

The bill’s passage comes less than a day after a federal judge in Chicago blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to withhold grant money from so-called sanctuary cities.

The California Values Act would not necessarily make California the country’s first “sanctuary state.” Oregon passed a similar, though less protective, measure 30 years ago.

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These 'Far Away Brothers' Remake Themselves In America

The Far Away Brothers

Lily Meyer works at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.

I’m a book reviewer. Most of the time, it’s not my job to write about politics. But it would be impossible to write about Lauren Markham’s The Far Away Brothers without writing about our political moment — or, if not impossible, both cowardly and pointless, since the project of The Far Away Brothers is a political one.

Markham began writing it while a school administrator in Oakland, where she worked with dozens of students who had arrived in the United States from Central America’s Northern Triangle as unaccompanied, undocumented minors. Her students told her the stories of how and why they came: in a bag that someone threw over the border wall, on the top of a train, on a bus pretending to be a coyote‘s son, all of them hoping for a better life, which “for many, means a life where they are not afraid of being killed.” Markham wrote The Far Away Brothers to pass those stories on.

Her main subjects are a pair of Salvadoran twins who she met while she worked at Oakland International High School. She calls them Ernesto and Raúl Flores, and she begins their story in 2013, when their gang-affiliated uncle Agustín takes a dislike to Ernesto that turns into MS-13 threats against his life. Before long, Ernesto understands that he has to flee El Salvador, as does his identical twin. So they find coyotes and go to join their brother Wilber, who has been living without documents in the Bay Area for years. Three years later, when Markham ends the book, Ernesto and Raúl are still living in California, and Donald Trump has just been elected president.

I say ends the book rather than ends the story because there are no conclusions in The Far Away Brothers. When the book stops, Ernesto has just had a child; Raúl is struggling to complete high school. Both have green cards. Both hope they will be able to find a true and enduring place in this country whose voting populace, by the measure that matters, has just declared them unwelcome. It’s hard to predict, on a personal or a political level, whether that hope will come true.

As I read The Far Away Brothers, I thought frequently of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family, an exceptionally detailed portrait of two women struggling to create families and keep them together in a low-income section of the Bronx. LeBlanc spent 11 years with Jessica, Coco, and their families. She writes movingly about her relationships with the two women, and about their ongoing generosity in choosing to be her subjects. It’s a gesture of extreme trust. LeBlanc knows this and is grateful, and the same clearly goes for Markham. When she first knew Ernesto and Raúl, they “encouraged [her] to write a book about ‘kids like us.'” After they became legal adults, she asked if she could write not about kids like them, but about them. They agreed, but she struggled with the ethics of the project, finally deciding, “[If] I could trust myself to tell their story respectfully and carefully, and if the twins accepted and encouraged the idea, it was appropriate for me to write this book.”

The Far Away Brothers is respectful and careful. It is elegantly structured and constantly empathetic. It’s clear that Markham did her work well, and that the Flores brothers — and, in fact, the entire Flores family — were invested in the process. But it’s clear, too, that she was not woven into the fabric of Ernesto and Raúl’s lives. The book is more known than felt. It’s too filled with statistics; the numbers start to blend. It lacks the depth and emotional clarity that Random Family achieves so well. I blame this on Donald Trump.

I’m not kidding. I think the flaws in The Far Away Brothers are Trump’s fault, not Markham’s. I understand that the Flores brothers and thousands of unaccompanied minors like them arrived in the country before Trump was elected, before anybody could have imagined that he would be. I understand that the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency were also a terrifying time for undocumented migrants. And yet, as Markham writes, “the election of Donald Trump [marks] an era of unprecedented fear among immigrants and refugees past and present.” If she rushed her book out, it’s no wonder. We need to read it now. In fact, clearly we needed to read it a long time ago.

So yes, I wish Markham had spent 11 years following Ernesto and Raúl Flores. I wish she could have watched Ernesto raise his daughter Isabella, the first American citizen in a family that had sent three children north. I wish she could have found out whether Wilber was able to get a green card, or whether the oldest Flores sister, Maricela, ever emigrated from El Salvador as she hoped to.

But in this year of America First, no writer has time to spare. Those of us who were born in this country need as many reminders as possible that some Americans are made, not born. Some Americans make themselves. The Flores brothers did, through danger and debt and depression. Markham captures their absolute bravery well, and she respects it absolutely. For that reason alone, you should read The Far Away Brothers. We all should.

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'She Was Everything': Jacque Ooko, NPR's Nairobi Bureau Assistant, Dies

Kenyan journalist Jacque Ooko on assignment in Kenya.

Courtesy of the family

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Courtesy of the family

I spotted Jacque Ooko’s mettle as a journalist on my first assignment in Nairobi, Kenya. We were at a rural hospital outside the city, in the middle of a doctor’s strike. As people writhed in pain, desperate for medical attention, she had somehow talked the only administrator in the place into letting us in, and then started talking to all the patients.

She disarmed everyone with a smile. Her patience, her gentleness always paid off — but more importantly, Jacque was driven by her commitment to journalism. She wanted us to get into that hospital so we could tell the world what a months-long dispute between doctors and the government was doing to the wananchi — the regular people of Kenya. And thanks to her, we did.

Jacque, a veteran radio journalist who had worked as an assistant for NPR in Nairobi since 2014, died early Friday morning from complications of amoebiasis. She was 37 years old.

Irene Nasimiyu, her brother’s wife, says Jacque was a jovial woman.

“You would not know Jacque was in pain because she was always smiling,” Nasimiyu said.

I learned that during these past presidential elections. She was sick but called me anyway, insisting that she wanted work. She was too frail to come out to the field with me, but still monitored press conferences and made phone calls for NPR from her house.

Jacque started her career at state broadcaster KBC; she spent most of her professional life at Baraka FM, where she rose to become the head of news. For the nonprofit Internews, she helped train dozens of journalists — her radio trainees are scattered all across Kenya.

On many occassions during the past few weeks, Jacque lamented that she could not be out on streets, covering the twists and turns of the Kenyan presidential election that was found to be unconstitutional by the country’s Supreme Court.

Jacque loved politics and she loved Kenya. She always told me that she dreamed of a home country that shed tribalism and punished corruption. Like all good journalists she was a skeptic, but not once did I ever see that erase her hope.

Jacque’s father, Francis Ooko, says she was like that in her personal life, too. At a young age she adopted her sister’s son, and she was the rock of the Ooko family.

“She was social, she was amicable, very hard working,” Ooko said. “She was everything.”

Her death, he says, is devastating. Jacque is survived by her father, her mother and her two sons, Leon, 8, and Jayden, who will turn 2 next month.

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