Immigration Law

For the better part of two decades, New Hampshire has been home to dozens of Indonesian families who immigrated to the United States fleeing religious persecution. Some of them were denied their applications for religious asylum, and they've spent years checking in with authorities and receiving temporary means to stay in the country. Now, under President Donald Trump, they've been told their time is up. 

This week on Word of Mouth, producer Ben Henry follows one family's journey from Indonesia to New Hampshire to the brink of deportation. 

Ben Henry for NHPR

Under prior administrations, Christian Indonesian immigrants living illegally in the US were required to check in with immigration officials every few months, but they were not deported. Under President Trump, that’s changing.

Twenty-three Indonesians in New Hampshire arrived at a check-in on August 1st in Manchester and were told they would be deported within a month, to a home country where they fear religious persecution.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

There was singing in three languages, chants, even a prayer Monday night at Veterans Park in Manchester. There, demonstrators gathered in a chilly rain to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies. The administration had created a new urgency for this annual May Day rally.

Thirty years ago, Corrections Corporation of America opened its first private prison. As demand for border patrol increased over the decades, so has its earnings. Last year, CCA brought in $1.7 billion dollars in revenue – a quarter of which came from government agencies enforcing immigration policy and incarcerating non-citizens in the US. Lee fang is Reporting Fellow with the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. He probed the connection between prison profits and stiffer immigration policies and came up with some unsettling answers.

Thirty years ago, Corrections Corporation of America opened its first private prison. As demand for border patrol increased over the decades, so has its earnings. Last year, CCA brought in $1.7 billion dollars in revenue – a quarter of which came from government agencies enforcing immigration policy and incarcerating non-citizens in the US. Lee fang is Reporting Fellow with the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next week on the most divisive immigration law in recent memory. Arizona's Legislature passed SB 1070 two years ago, but much of it has been put on hold pending the court's decision.

Still, supporters say the law has achieved one of its stated goals: Thousands of illegal immigrants have self-deported, leaving the state on their own. The real reason — and consequence — of such a demographic shift may be more complex, however.

The Supreme Court is about to take up one of this term's biggest cases. Next Wednesday, the court will hear arguments challenging Arizona's controversial state immigration law, known as SB 1070.

Among other things, the law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and requires police to question the immigration status of people they stop. Lower courts blocked parts of the law when it was passed nearly two years ago.

But in that time, things in Arizona have been changing.