Latinos

Justin Favela
Stacy Nick / KUNC

Las Vegas artist Justin Favela has fond memories of his grandmother, Isabel Favela's, house around the holidays. Especially her tradition of building a gigantic, elaborate, and very specifically styled nativity — or "nacimiento."

"These are the key elements of (my grandmother's) nacimiento," Justin said. "At the very top of the mountain, you have the manger and then there's a grassy hill and that usually has sheep and deer on it."

The Latino and Hispanic population is the largest ethnic minority group in the United States. But many of their stories are left out of the historical record.

Across the country, a number of academic institutions are trying to change that, one oral history at a time. One of the latest is in Nevada.

Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Citizenship applications were on the rise across the country in 2016. And while there’s no definitive data for the first part of 2017, there are small indications that same trend could be continuing this year.

Many immigrants in the U.S. are worried that changes to immigration policy pushed by the Trump administration could impact their families -- and that’s true in rural America, too. In some rural communities, immigrants and refugees are taking steps to go from green card holders to fully-fledged citizens.

Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

The bell signals the start of second period. A trio of young women take seats in English class, their attention quickly drifting outside the walls of the high school in Fort Morgan, Colorado, eager to talk about what they’re working toward.

“I want to become an FBI [agent],” says freshman Mariam Mohammed. “It’s my dream.”

On her left, her sister, Mutaas Mohammed, with a clay-colored hijab wrapped around her face and dark purple lipstick, says she wants to study fashion design. The girls’ friend, Isra Mohamud, a senior this year, chimes in: She’s looking at a nursing program at the local community college.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Hillary Clinton's wins on Mega Tuesday in Ohio, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and a virtual tie in Missouri, have moved her closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination. What will that mean for Colorado, which went heavily for her opponent, Bernie Sanders? We asked Democratic State Party Chair Rick Palacio to find out.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

About 15 years ago, Lori Ramos Lemasters got a phone call in the middle of the night. Her mother, who lived in California, had suffered a stroke.

At the time, her mother was her dad's primary caregiver - he had medical problems. So Lemasters made a choice. She left her job as a mortgage banker in Littleton and moved to California. She thought it would be a quick trip. 

Tom Pratt / Flickr - Creative Commons

When politicians open their campaigns, they often consider how to cluster the U.S. population into smaller groups. That way, they can target the votes they need to win.

For example, politicians might support women’s access to contraception to rally the young, unmarried women’s vote. Or they might speak against same-sex marriage legislation to gain support from social conservatives.

Yet there’s a moment when these groups become problematic and ineffective. Not every conservative wishes to ban gay marriage. Not every woman is pro-choice. Not every Latino ranks immigration reform as a top priority.

Iowa is undergoing a demographic shift. The first-in-the-nation caucus state is overwhelmingly white — Latinos still make up less than 6 percent of the state's population — but their numbers have more than doubled since 2000.

That means Latinos are an increasingly important group for both Republicans and Democrats to win over. Activists are stepping up efforts to engage Latinos in the 2016 election.

But they face some obstacles. The state's caucus system can be tricky for newcomers to navigate.

Poncie Rutsch / KUNC

Fort Morgan is a town of about 11,000 people tucked into the farmland of northeastern Colorado. Among its residents are people of Latino and European ancestry, and more recent immigrants, including refugees from eastern Africa.

“Our little town -- it's an anomaly,” says Nick Ng, the soccer coach at Fort Morgan High School. “We have all these people from other places in the world and we have one thing in common: soccer.”

Poncie Rutsch / KUNC

Leasing an apartment or home has never been an easy process, but imagine navigating a househunt with limited English skills. Every showing requires a translator, or really, anytime you have to communicate with a landlord; for example, when something breaks.

Miscommunications are easy, which is one reason why One Morgan County, a nonprofit in Fort Morgan, Colorado, hosted a meeting to help untangle the rights and responsibilities of tenants.

“There’s issues on both sides of this,” says executive director Michaela Holdridge. “And we really figured this would be a good time to discuss this, and say ‘OK, what is your understanding of your rights as a tenant?’”

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