Current Event April 25, 2017
In the last few months, many refugees have crossed illegally from the United States into Canada. Refugees who cross the border this way are violating the Safe Third Country Agreement. This agreement says people must take refuge in the country where they first arrive. However, refugees are so unsure of their future in the U.S. that many are willing to enter Canada illegally because they know if their papers and background checks are cleared, they will be allowed to apply for asylum. Listen to learn more about how and why refugees are crossing illegally into Canada.
Current Event April 14, 2017
The U.S. Census Bureau is set to announce the proposed questions for the 2020 census. Many are concerned that under the Trump administration, Latinos will be less likely to respond for fear that immigration enforcement will use their answers against the Latino community. As a result, these communities may be undercounted, leading to less political representation and federal funding for these areas. Listen to learn more about the concerns around the politicization of the U.S. Census.
Current Event February 6, 2017
Last week President Trump issued an executive order banning refugees for from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for a 90 day period. The order also prevents all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely. Some experts fear this policy will have a strongly negative impact on foreign affairs, sending the message that the United States is at war with Islam and willing to restrict immigration based on religious beliefs. Listen to learn more about Trump’s refugee ban and its potential foreign policy consequences.
Current Event December 13, 2016
Recently, Austria held a runoff election for president and Italy voted on changes to its constitution. The countries voted on different things, but the underlying issue was the future of Europe. After the Brexit vote, where Britain voted to leave the European Union, Austria predicted a victory for a far-right, anti-immigration candidate. In their election upset, the leftist leader won the vote. In Italy, the country’s position in the European Union was challenged and a growing anti-establishment mood won the election, rejecting the changes to its constitution. As a result, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned, and asked the government to carry out its mission faithfully. Listen to hear more about these important elections.
Current Event November 21, 2016
Immigration was a big issue in the U.S. presidential election and president-elect Donald Trump has said he definitely plans to build a barrier on the U.S. border with Mexico. He said he will prioritize deporting unauthorized immigrants with criminal records. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimates about 2 million undocumented immigrants fall into this category, but the majority are not drug dealers or murderers, but charged with nonviolent crimes such as shoplifting. Listen to hear more about the potential plans of the incoming Administration.
Current Event November 17, 2016
More than 65 million people around the world have been forced to leave their homes. These refugees are fleeing violence, persecution and natural disasters in their countries. The journey is often dangerous. Doctor’s Without Borders, an international humanitarian aid organization, created an exhibit to help Americans understand what it’s like to be a refugee. Listen to hear how visitors reacted to this experience.
ELA Middle School
Anne Frank’s diary of her family’s life in hiding from the Nazis is one of the most famous accounts of World War II. Less known is how her father, Otto Frank made many attempts to get his wife and two daughters, Margot and Anne, out of Nazi Germany to safety. In 2005, several letters and documents written by Otto Frank were discovered. Despite the support of several wealthy and powerful friends in the United States, he was unable to acquire the necessary visas. The U.S. was making it more and more difficult for immigrants to enter the country and, after Germany declared war on the U.S., Cuba rescinded the visas it had originally offered. Listen to learn more about the powers that kept the Frank family in Europe, where they were eventually discovered, arrested and almost all murdered by the Nazis.
Current Event September 30, 2016
Vermont is the new home of many refugees from Somalia and other countries that have become dangerous to live in. Some residents in towns with large concentrations of refugees are concerned that the newcomers will be a burden on taxpayers. For the most part, however, refugees are contributing to the well-being of the communities they have become a part of. The local residents in one town in Vermont, welcome them. Listen to hear about the experiences of residents of Winooski, Vermont and the refugees who have recently moved there.
Current Event September 20, 2016
Immigrants living in the United States have a lot to learn when they first arrive. Parents must learn how the school system works in the United States so that they can ensure their children are successful. There are often cultural differences as well as language barriers, which make it difficult to adapt. An organization in Rhode Island helps immigrant parents navigate the school system by providing classes that are translated into several languages. Listen to hear what kinds of challenges immigrant parents face.
Current Event September 12, 2016
One of the big issues of the 2016 presidential election is immigration. The two major party candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have opposing viewpoints on the subject. As Trump launched his campaign, he promised to build a wall to keep Mexicans out, and then later stated that he would prevent Muslims from entering the United States. Clinton has proposed comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. She sees immigrants as contributing to American society and the economy. Listen to hear more details about each candidate’s policy on immigration.
Current Event June 27, 2016
The European Union is a political and economic partnership of 28 countries that’s been in place for more than four decades. In what has been named “Brexit,” the United Kingdom voted by a slim margin to exit the EU. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, campaigned to stay in the EU and stated that leaving would be disastrous for Britain. He is now announcing his resignation. Those who voted to leave the EU stated resentment about immigration, as well as economic and cultural costs of belonging to the EU. Listen to hear more about the economic repercussions as well as political effects of this decision.
Current Event May 20, 2016
The Obama administration promised to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country this year, but it has made little progress toward this goal. A top refugee official explains how the U.S. will keep working to fulfill this promise. Citizens and politicians alike have strong opinions on refugee issues. Some people think we must invite those in trouble into our country, while others worry that welcoming refugees could threaten our safety. Government officials hope to listen to all concerns as they work to protect people’s safety at home and abroad. Listen to this story and then have your students debate America’s responsibility to Syrian refugees.
Current Event May 19, 2016
Teenagers from low-income, immigrant families must overcome challenges in order to graduate from high school. For many new immigrants, work and family can become difficult to balance. These students often work to help support their families, which can take priority over schoolwork. One high school senior has been able to find success despite some difficult circumstances. She helps her family earn money, plays the viola, and is on track to graduate high school. Listen to her story about defying the odds.
Current Event March 18, 2016
Britain's Prime Minister promised to bring migration numbers down six years ago. But the numbers have risen. Now the government wants to cut migration by having non-Europeans with skilled worker visas leave the country if they don’t make at least $50,000 a year. Lower-paid workers such as artists, health care workers, and people in the trades will be affected by these new rules. Listen to hear about the new plan and debate the pros and cons of setting a salary benchmark for immigrants.
Current Event February 5, 2016
Denmark is poised to pass a new law related to refugees. It requires police to seize cash and valuables from people seeking asylum in Denmark. The idea behind the law is to help defray the costs of caring for refugees. The Danish government hopes that this new law will make Denmark unattractive to other refugees and discourage people from seeking asylum. Many support the new measures because they say Denmark is a small country and can’t support a large number of refugees. Others believe it is a violation of human rights. Listen to hear more about this crisis and debate whether refugees should pay countries that support them.
Current Event January 19, 2016
The recent Syrian refugee crisis highlights the central issue of sovereign borders. Countries spend millions of dollars every year to protect their borders and tightly determine who can enter. An economics professor wants to see a world with open borders. He says open borders with no discrimination against where someone is born, and technology that allows ideas to flow freely, could double the global gross domestic product. Listen to hear this interesting description of a world without borders.
Current Event November 23, 2015
The United States House of Representatives voted to pause the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program, even though the war in Syria has led to millions of refugees looking for safe haven in Turkey, Europe and the U.S. After the attacks in Paris, Republican lawmakers are afraid that terrorists will enter the U.S. disguised as refugees. The current plan is to settle 10,000 Syrians using a rigorous process including screenings and background checks from the FBI and Homeland Security that take between a year and a half to two years to complete. Republicans say it’s not enough and it’s better to be safe than sorry. This story aired before the House passed the bill to pause the program with a veto-proof majority. The President is opposed to pausing the program, and it's unclear when the Senate will consider the bill. Listen to hear more about this backlash against Syrian refugees.
Current Event October 14, 2015
Many immigrants came to the United States years ago when immigration laws made it easier for people from non-European countries to arrive. This story looks back on the journey of one family who left Bolivia when conditions became intolerable and settled in America. The father spent most of his free time in the library, learning English and reading repair manuals. By teaching himself new skills he was able to take on small jobs, move his family out of poverty and get a start on the American dream by buying a house. Listen to hear more about one legal immigrant’s journey.
Current Event October 7, 2015
When Donald Trump announced he was running for President he made derogatory remarks about Mexican immigrants, characterizing them as criminals. The Latino community responded not with riots and protests, but with their economic power. In reaction to Trump’s remarks, companies that see a lot of revenue from Latino customers pulled out of Trump owned products or events. Macy’s will no longer carry Trump’s menswear line, NBC will no longer allow him to host and Univision will no longer air beauty pageants that he partially owns. Latinos’ purchasing power is expected to reach $1.5 trillion this year. Listen to hear more about how Latinos are using their economic influence.