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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

'In Yemen, if you're not dead by the end of the day, you're lucky'

KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman
Ramilya Salem and Yunus Alhobane at the KUOW studios.

Bill Radke speaks with Ramilya Salem and Yunus Alhobane, two students at Edmonds Community College. Three years ago, they came to America for a 10-month high school exchange program through the state department.

Then, a civil war broke out in their home country of Yemen. It was too dangerous for them to go home, so the State Department extended their stay.

Now, the State Department has decided it can no longer fund that program. So when June comes around, the students will be in limbo: no money, and no student visas. Most likely they'll be sent back to Yemen.

They said they don't know what the future will look like. They'll either need to apply for asylum or be sent back to Yemen.

We also spoke with State Department spokesman Nathan Arnold. He said the department has taken unprecedented steps to help these students. But at some point that program has to come to an end.

A former adviser for the students has set up a GoFundMe site to help with living expenses once the State Department removes their funding. 

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