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For East Texas DACA Recipients, 'Tyler Is Home'

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Courtesy photo
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The Tyler Loop
Johnnatan, 28, has lived in Tyler since he was 13. He now works in Dallas as an insurance salesman.

After President Trump's decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program this week, we've heard voices from big cities like Dallas and Houston.

Former NPR journalist Tasneem Raja has been collecting stories of people in Tyler who were brought into the country illegally as children for her news startup, The Tyler Loop

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Credit Courtesy Photo
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Tasneem Raja is a former NPR editor and the founder of The Tyler Loop, which she describes as a "small batch" digital magazine.

She profiled an engineering student, a kindergarten teacher, a nurse and an insurance salesman, who all call Tyler home. About a quarter of the population is Latino, and one in nine Tyler residents were born in another country. Raja said there was a big misconception among her readers about the process to gain citizenship.

"It can take years, even in the best of circumstances [to get permanent residency]," Raja said. "None of the people I talked to for this series are in the best of circumstances."

In this conversation, you'll hear:

  • The story of Johnnatan, an insurance salesman now living in Dallas. His father still has five years to go before he can get an interview with a USCIS agent.
  • The story of Leticia, a nurse who faced a delay in getting her work permit renewed.
  • The immigration debate in Tyler.
Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and KERANews.org. She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter is KERA's vice president of news. He oversees news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News has earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.