Jeanmarie Schubach

This week, staff members from The State of Things are sharing their favorite shows of 2014.

Producer Will Michaels joined the show in May after working as a producer for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and the North Carolina Teacher Project at WUNC.

Some of Will’s favorites included an interview with a championship track coach who grew up in the segregated South and a conversation with some of the pioneers of NASCAR.

Host Frank Stasio talks with producer Will Michaels about the conversations that stood out in 2014.

Producer Hady Mawajdeh fulling around behind the mic.
Carol Jackson

As the year draws to a close, The State of Things staff take a look back at some of their favorite segments of 2014. 

Lucrecia and Rose Torre

When she was 20 years old, Lucrecia de la Torre left her home country of Guatemala and moved to the United States, eventually finding her way to Durham. She was interviewed by her daughter, Rose at the StoryCorps booth in Durham, North Carolina.

Tamaulipas, Mexico, 1996 – Marisol daydreams at dusk while anticipating the arrival of more garbage trucks at the municipal dump
Janet Jarman

Immigration has taken center stage this week with President Obama's announcement of protection for some  children and families who entered the country illegally. In North Carolina, some area teachers have recently been trained to better understand the experience of such undocumented immigrants. The training is based on an extraordinary set of photos, taken over two decades, on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.

WUNC's Carol Jackson tells the story:

President Obama
Pete Souza

President Obama announced an executive order last night that paves the way for millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States.

The order applies to an estimated four to five million people nationwide. Here in  North Carolina, it applies to more than 100,000 people.

Javier Diaz de Leon
Consulado General de Mexico en Raleigh


Nearly 30 percent of immigrants in the United States are from Mexico, but migration between the two countries is changing. A study from the Pew Research Center indicates this country is at the tail end of the largest wave of immigration in American history.

And in North Carolina, more families are permanently relocating here rather than traveling for temporary work.

This is a story about two new Americans: Webton Webley, a 26-year-old active service member of the U.S. Army, and his wife 23-year-old Sherell Perry-Webley, an U.S. Army reservist.

Sherell's and Webton's lives in the U.S. have been closely intertwined. They went to the same high school in Jamaica, and Sherell eventually got a green card through her mom, who was living in Fort Lauderdale. Webton arrived to Florida on a visa to study at Miami-Dade College. Webton says that's actually the first place they spoke.

Child with flag
jvoves on Flickr

More than 400 women and children from Central America are currently being held at a temporary detention center in southeast New Mexico. Most fled to the United States to escape violence in their home countries. They are seeking asylum in the United States but face many legal and personal challenges. A group of attorneys from North Carolina traveled to the remote town of Artesia, New Mexico to represent the detainees. Host Frank Stasio talks with two of the attorneys, Evelyn Smallwood and Natalie Teague, about their experiences.

Picture of gavel

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied child immigrants have turned themselves in at the U.S. Border this year.

Once they’ve been arrested, the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement looks for places to put these kids until their day in immigration court.

The O.R.R. reports 1,648 children were placed in North Carolina between January and August.

Lili Morales is a senior at Northern High School in Durham, N.C. As a part of WUNC's Youth Radio Project, she reports on the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.  Young people who entered the country illegally with their parents are eligible for the program if they are in school -- but they have to renew every two years.  It's a stressful process for some.

Hana Pichova is a UNC professor and author that escaped communism 35 years ago and she's been making the most of her opportunities ever since.

Hana Pichova grew up under a totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia during the 1970s. 

For Pichova, opportunities for learning and discovery were rare under the control of the communist government.

At 18, she and her parents fled to Switzerland. Pichova decided she wanted to  immigrate to America. Unbeknownst to her parents, she went to the German border to seek political asylum. When they learned of her move, they decided to follow her, despite their reservations. 

Icars / Flickr Creative Commons

Some local governments in North Carolina are considering resolutions that urge the federal government to stop allowing unaccompanied minors into the country illegally. 

Commissioners in Rowan and Brunswick counties have passed such resolutions in recent weeks.  They came shortly after Governor Pat McCrory estimated as many as 1,500 children from Central American countries had settled in North Carolina. It's been reported that violence in those countries has forced the children to flee.

Thar Thwai at work on his radio story in the WUNC studios.
Carol Jackson

About a thousand refugees resettle in North Carolina each year, and one third of them are from Burma and Thailand.  The Triangle is home to four of the nation's 10 refugee and immigrant resettlement organizations.  There are two in Durham, and two in Raleigh.

Resettlement agencies distribute State Department grants, a one-time payment of $925 per refugee.  For the first 90 days, the State Department provides housing and language assistance. But 90 days isn't a very long time when you are coming from a refugee camp. 

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

  Governor Pat McCrory says state officials don't have enough information about what he calls unaccompanied children. He says at least 1,200 children have crossed the US border since January and are now placed with sponsors in the state.

State officials are publicly calling on the federal government to help address the issue. McCrory says they don't have details, including how old the children are, where they're staying or if they're safe.

The recent increase in the number of unaccompanied, undocumented minors immigrating across the border has left tens of thousands of children waiting in limbo. But thousands of children who are already American citizens also face an uncertain future — because their parents are not in the country legally.

If their parents get deported, those minors could end up in foster care, or adopted by strangers.

Paul Cuadros (pictured third from the left) and his team, Los Jets
Nuvo TV

  UNC journalism professor Paul Cuadros came to North Carolina 15 years ago to write about Latino migration.

A few years into his research, he launched Los Jets, the varsity soccer team at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City. It was wildly successful, but some of his players face an uncertain future when they leave the pitch. They are all sons of Latino immigrants, some of whom came to this country illegally.

Cuadros wrote a book about his team in 2006, called “Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of a Small Town.”

Photo: A mock graduation for undocumented immigrants behind the Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh
Jorge Valencia

Five students walked 140 miles from Charlotte to Raleigh over the last 10 days to ask state lawmakers for in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

Elver Barrios, a computer engineering student at Johnson C. Smith University, and one of the advocates, says that when the group left last week, momentum seemed on their side.

"We were really excited on the first day of walking," he says.

But walking 15 miles a day means blisters on the feet and lots of sun on the face. It turns out there’s not much shade between Charlotte and Raleigh.

A map showing the hottest growth spots for immigrants in NC
NC Bankers Association

A new study is challenging the notion that low-paid immigrant populations are "taking" jobs from native North Carolinians.

Cedars in the Pines is a new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History. / North Carolina Museum of History


 Food, music and dancing are just a few of the contributions of Lebanese Americans to North Carolina’s culture. "Cedars in the Pines,” a new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History, showcases the influence of Lebanese immigrants on the state.

David Benbennick via wikimedia commons

North Carolina civil rights groups are urging the U.S. Justice Department to launch a federal investigation into two North Carolina school districts that allegedly discriminated against immigrant youth.

The complaint says that Buncombe and Union county schools unlawfully complicated and denied enrollment  to two 17-year-olds, which coalition attorneys say represents a much larger problem in the state.

Emilio Vicente
Emilio Vicente campaign

Late last week The Daily Tar Heel, UNC-Chapel Hill's student newspaper, wrote an article titled "5 Students Enter Race For SBP." (SBP is student body president.)

"As of Tuesday night, five students are in the running for UNC Student Body President.

Jennifer Ho, English professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / UNC-Chapel Hill

When Jennifer Ho went to the hospital for testing on a lump in her breast, she encountered the image often associated with breast cancer: the pink ribbon.

A nurse led the UNC English professor to an exam room. She recalls, "And then I saw a tote bag with UNC hospital's name on it and the pink ribbon. And I had this immediate visceral reaction. And I'm walking with the nurse. And I said something I can't repeat on the air." Ho said, "I hate those *** pink ribbons."

Wikimedia Commons


Today is transgender day of remembrance, a day designated to remembering transgender people who have lost their lives to violence this past year.

Anil Gandhi
Jessica Jones

When South Asian immigrants to this country get homesick, there’s a good chance they can probably locate an Indian restaurant or grocery store to remind them of home. Finding a place that stocks the plants and trees they grew up with is much harder.

Branford Marsalis, Arlie Petters, and Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abenyi join the State of Things for the roundtable conversation.
Laura Lee

On this week’s roundtable, a jazz great, a leading string theory mathematician and an accomplished writer share their diverse perspectives on the latest headlines. They’ll discuss a range of issues from the latest Middle East update to the challenges facing minorities in higher education.