Immigration

The Gangs of Nantucket: The Arrival

Nov 13, 2017
Phillip Martin/WGBH News

Mara Salvatrucha, best known as MS-13, is a transnational gang based in El Salvador. It has about 10,000 members in the United States. In recent years, immigration officials have arrested and deported dozens of MS-13 and rival 18th Street gang members from Massachusetts to El Salvador. Some arrests were made in Revere, East Boston, Lawrence and in an unsuspecting location for gang activity in this state: Nantucket Island.

Patrick Flanary

Summer may be all but over, but it’s only recently that some of the region’s regular summer workforce has arrived.

That’s because Congress waited until mid-season to pass what’s known as the Returning Workers Exemption, which allows temporary seasonal workers holding H2B visas to return.

Boston-area university faculty are arrested during a protest of the Trump administration's action on DACA.
Mark Herz/WGBH News

On September 5, President Trump announced his decision to end the immigration program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The announcement has prompted strong responses from scientists and other academics in Massachusetts. Even before it was official, MIT’s President, Rafael Reif, wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe calling the repeal of DACA “a mistake” that “would run counter to our national interests.”

Patrick Flanary

In a political climate where federal immigration policy calls for tougher vetting and a wall on the border with Mexico, many immigrants who live on the Cape and Islands fear pursuing a path to citizenship. The Hyannis-based Immigration Resource Center is trying to help.  

Alecia Orsini/WCAI

The Justice Department in recent months has directed local police to hold detained immigrants until federal immigration officials arrive. But some cities in Massachusetts won’t comply unless the immigrant is wanted for a serious crime. Not everyone agrees on which is the right approach, and the debate has focused new attention on so-called sanctuary cities.

T.S. Custadio goo.gl/z4orD1 / goo.gl/KxOKu

Residents in several Lower Cape towns will consider upcoming Town Meeting articles similar to the "sanctuary city" declarations in Boston and Somerville. Those declarations discourage local officials and police from enforcing federal immigration laws without a judge’s order.

As WCAI’s Kathryn Eident reports, some Cape residents think the declaration of a so-called "safe community" is vital to protecting immigrants’ rights, while others say the idea has raised more questions than answers.

Patrick Flanary

Cape Cod business owners are bracing for their most unpredictable season in memory. Typically, about 3,000 seasonal workers carrying what's known as an H-2B visa travel to the Cape and Islands for work. Not this year. Only a fraction of them are approved to come back, which could mean devastating effects on small businesses. 

Here for Work, Immigrants Face Violence

Sep 22, 2014
Sarah Reynolds

Friday is payday for many New Bedford businesses. That makes for a bustling Acushnet Avenue with money-sending shops on nearly every block. Transportes Vasquez sends money and other goods from immigrants in New Bedford to their homes in Guatemala. The owner, Luis Vasquez says on average, 500 people come by to send money every weekend.

Unauthorized and Paying Taxes

Sep 19, 2014
Sarah Reynolds

February and March is a busy time for the Community Economic Development Center in New Bedford. It’s tax season. For the past eleven years, this community organization has participated in a federal program that helps low income people file their taxes. It offers free tax service to families making less than 52-thousand dollars a year. Williams says she gets all kinds of people coming in who fit the bill. And many of them are immigrants who are here illegally, like Luis Farfan. He stops by every year to file his tax return.

Not Licensed To Drive

Sep 18, 2014
stock photo

When Celia Alves first gets in her car to drive home after a long day of work, she prays.

Dear God,” she began, “I want to say thank you so much for this beautiful day and for your protection…”

Alves is not a nervous driver. She’s been driving a long time – for 24 years – most of those years on the Cape and in her native Brazil before that.

First Generation: Torn Between Two Cultures

Sep 17, 2014
Courtesy photo

Mara, of Falmouth, first came to Cape Cod with her parents when she was ten. These first generation immigrants who arrive when they’re young often are the ones who struggle most, as they have feet in two worlds. But two years ago, things got a little easier for some of them. A new presidential directive called DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – allows children who were in the U.S. before their 16th birthday to get work authorization and to defer deportation. Some opponents say the program amounts to temporary legalization, and they want it repealed.

Growing Old in Portuguese New Bedford

Sep 16, 2014
Sarah Reynolds

In a grey duplex on a narrow street in New Bedford, Margarida Xavier fixes a pillow on her living room couch and sits down. She’s 86 years old. She moved to New Bedford from the Azores in Portugal more than 50 years ago, but she still doesn’t speak much English. She’s lived alone since her husband died ten years ago. And it’s been lonely.

But every few weeks she gets a visitor – Lucy Oliveira, the Senior Services Coordinator with the Immigrants’ Assistance Center in New Bedford. Oliveira comes by once or twice a month to visit and to help Xavier read her mail. 

Nantucket, Microcosm of a Changing Region

Sep 15, 2014
Fr. Marcel Bouchard

Young immigrants have been crossing the border into the U.S. in record numbers over the past few years.  This summer, Governor Patrick offered Camp Edwards as a temporary place to house the youngest of them. People held rallies around the Cape in response – some opposing the plan and some showing support. The Governor’s plan may have struck a chord with Cape Codders since demographics are in flux here, too.