A birthday blessing: An abused woman’s journey to receive her U Visa by Kalyn Kahler

This story was re-published on Gapers Block as Protection from Abuse & Deportation

Carla, a 22-year-old Ecuadorian mother of two and victim of domestic and sexual abuse received her U Visa, a four-year work permit available each year to 10,000 undocumented immigrants who are victims of certain crimes, in May of 2012. Since then, Carla has secured a better job and is living without fear of her ex-boyfriend or being deported.


As demand for U Visa grows, visa’s future for abused women uncertain by Ava Wallace


DACA youth learn from Salvadorans who’ve come before by Yoona Ha

A version of the story was also published in Spanish and in English on Reflejos, a weekly bilingual publication in Chicago’s suburbs.

DACA recipient Sofia Rivera is setting off on a path that Victor Martell has walked before her. Martell, a Salvadoran living and working in Chicago, was granted Temporary Protected Status 11 years ago, and he still feels in limbo.


Legislating licenses: Rules of the new road for undocumented drivers  by Saron Strait

A version of this story was published on Reflejos in Spanish – Proporcionando licencias: Las nuevas reglas y una va de acceso para conductores que estaban indocumentados – and in English. Reflejos, which is a sister publication of the Daily Herald, is a bilingual journal that has served the Chicago suburban Latino communities for 20 years.

17-year-old DACA recipient Maria Sanchez can now drive legally. Thousands of others await action by the Illinois legislature that could extend a similar privilege to all undocumented immigrants in the state.


Driven by fear by Lissette Rodriguez

The video was also published on the bilingual newspaper EXTRA’s web site.

Stay-at-home mother Susana Ochoa has been living in the Chicago suburbs illegally for over 18 years. During her time here, there has been one thing that Illinois law prohibits her from doing but that she does anyway: drive a car. In this video, we capture what challenges come with not having a driver’s license as an undocumented immigrant and what policy-makers are doing to address the issue.


Deferred Action: Joy, fear and frustration by Oliver Ortega

The story was also published on The Chicago bureau, a site that examines global issues vital to today’s youth and on Oliver Ortega’s site along with other stories on immigrant youth.

After having received deferred action, 17-year-old Maria Sanchez can now live and work in the U.S. But the rest of her family are still waiting for their own relief, and the threat of deportation looms over them. Despite the risks, Maria and her parents believe that by telling their family’s story, they can make a difference.


Under deportation, above fear by Gideon Resnick

In one Chicago-area family, two siblings are in the process of securing DACA approval to work, go to school and avoid deportation for two years. The Parra family has much to celebrate this holiday season; a judge tossed out their father’s deportation thanks to the testimony of their younger brother.


Deferred for the holidays by Thomas Carroll

In one Chicago-area family, two siblings are in the process of securing DACA approval to work, go to school and avoid deportation for two years. The Parra family has much to celebrate this holiday season; a judge tossed out their father’s deportation thanks to the testimony of their younger brother.


Before life after college, undocumented students seek support by Erin Berger

Ariel G. Ruiz Soto has just been approved for DACA after 13 years navigating life as an undocumented student. Even as he takes advantage of the new opportunities this affords him, his experiences and outlook for the future inform more pressing work that must still be done. In particular, universities must step up their efforts to support undocumented students, especially when it comes to making the jump to life after school with or without the help of DACA.


Morality in the shadows of illegality by Katie Brennan

Prompted by a young immigrant’s plea, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran experienced a change of heart. Now his allegiance to job and law is tested daily, as he tries to keep his own moral code.


Undocumented youth struggle with anxiety, depression by Kris Anne Bonifacio

Joaquin Luna, an 18-year-old undocumented student from Texas, committed suicide after Thanksgiving last year, reportedly due to concerns about his immigration status. The story put a national spotlight on the adverse effects of immigration policy on the mental health of undocumented youth. With DACA in place a year later, but a permanent path to immigration reform remaining uncertain, it’s too early to tell if anxiety or depression has been alleviated for undocumented youth.


Undocumented youth confide and come out by Polina Senderova

In light of the DACA process, many young immigrants, including 20-year-old José Martinez, reach a point in their lives when they are forced, for various reasons, to confide in their peers and teachers about their undocumented status. They weigh the risks of being in the open against the benefits of having a support system through their legal and personal ordeals.


Playing your way to citizenship: A look into the musical side of immigration  by Enrique Perez and Lydia Ramsey

Cellist Jessica Bieniarz returned to the United States to pursue her aspirations of higher education, overcoming the complications that individuals with documentation issues face. For international musicians, they face dual challenges; finding a way to get into the U.S. and then finding a way to remain here permanently.


Playing for America: A girl’s lifelong goal for better music education opportunities by Lydia Ramsey

Jessica Bieniarz’s life has revolved around two things: learning to play the cello and coming back to the U.S. Her parent’s commitment to her future led them to uproot their life in Poland in pursuit of a better music future for her.


Undocumented youth: The new coming out by Nina Leff

Undocumented immigrants are coming out, but the risks include deportation and separation from those families and friends.