Brushing aside Republican outrage, President Barack Obama announced far-reaching orders on immigration Thursday that will allow nearly 5 million people now in the U.S. illegally to "come out of the shadows and get right with the law."
The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has reported on immigration for years. As President Obama announces the first changes to immigration policy in many years, we wanted to bring together some of the deep dives we took on the issue in the past.
The "Absolutely Broken" US Immigration Court System:
Massive Backlog of Cases Saddle San Francisco Immigration Court
Nearly a half million people now find themselves in legal limbo in US immigration court. A sitting US Immigration judge tells us that the immigration court system is badly structured, "absolutely broken" and that immigrants are getting stuck in a huge and growing backlog.
Immigration Court Director Calls for Overhaul of Broken System
In his first television interivew on the subject, the Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review tells NBC Bay Area that only a complete overhaul by Congress will truly fix the issues plaguing the US immigration court.
Central American Immigration, a three part series:
A Humanitarian Crisis: Children and Families Immigrate in Record Numbers
Violence and instability in Central America are forcing a lot of children north. A lot of them are coming unaccompanied, creating a humanitarian crisis at the border. The Investigative Unit goes to these border towns, and rides the bus north with immigrants trying to make their way to the Bay Area.
Refugee Children Ride the Death Train
There's no easy way out. The Investigative Unit speaks to children that rode the "Death Train"--a northbound train that takes migrants hundreds of miles through Mexico to the US border. Children balance themselves precariously on the roof of the cars for days.
Part Three: Sanctuary
The decades-old social movement is coming back to California: "Sanctuary". Supporters of the sanctuary movement are offering shelter and protection for immigrants in churches around the Bay Area in churches for Central American Immigrants.
Many of the children that immigrate to the US end up in agriculture, harvesting the food Americans eat every day. NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit spent weeks penetrating the close-knit and tight-lipped community of migrant workers and found dozens of children working the fields in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys – some who started work at 11-, 10- and even 8-years of age. A multi-part series that aired in 2012.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.