Episode 156: The Confusing Tangle of Immigration Law; Hunting for Old Growth Forests

Carl Ronga, his wife Becky and their daughter Rehema.

This week on NEXT:

Immigration officials have traditionally honored state pardons when considering who they can deport, but that’s stopped in one state. We’ll look at legal challenges to the detention of immigrants. And, we’ll meet a family coping with a year spent apart.

We’ll also go looking for the oldest trees.

Plus Norman Rockwell’s doubts, and the man who helped him through them.

It’s NEXT. 

The Confusing Tangle of Immigration Law

Wayzaro Walton (middle, pictured at a rally organized on her behalf in Hartford in December 2018) was apprehended by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Tuesday, March 26 while participating in an immigration check-in.

We’re going to start this week’s show with a deep dive into the confusing tangle of immigration law, beginning with an unusual court case in Boston. A federal appeals court heard arguments centering on whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement can deport immigrants even though they’ve been granted a state pardon for past crimes.

Here’s another question: When can the government take away an individual’s liberty by placing that person in jail? Turns out, the answer depends on the court system. 

And a year ago, a longtime Vermont resident named Carl Ronga was deported back to his native Kenya. He had overstayed a visa and also misstated his immigration status on an employment form. Under the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration enforcement, he was forced to leave his wife and young child to return to a country he barely knows. 

The Hunt for Old Growth Forests

At 40 inches in diameter, this sugar maple in Gifford Woods State Park is a relative behemoth.

When you venture into New England’s deepest woods, they can feel ancient, like they’ve been there forever. But nearly all of our region’s forests have been cut down over the last few centuries to make way for farms, to use as building materials, and to burn as fuel.

Brave Little State, the people-powered podcast by Vermont Public Radio, went looking for answers, when one of their listeners, Andrew Wild, asked: “Are there any patches of old-growth forest in Vermont?”

The health of our region’s forests is the topic of a recent article in the journal “Frontiers in Forests and Global Change.” It examines an idea that’s the opposite of deforestation, it’s pro-forestation, allowing forests to grow to maturity, creating a “natural forest ecosystem.”

We spoke with Susan Masino, co-author of the paper, and a professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. 

The Relationship of Norman Rockwell and Erik Erikson

A Red Cross Man in the Making by Norman Rockwell

























In 1953 American illustrator Norman Rockwell moved from Arlington, Vermont, to the small town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, on the Western edge of the Berkshires.  While there, Rockwell developed a relationship with a prominent psychotherapist who came to influence the artist’s work.

Their relationship is the subject of a new exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum: Inspired: Norman Rockwell and Erik Erikson.

From the Berkshires to Indonesia

It takes more than a day to fly from the Berkshires to Indonesia. With more than 250-million inhabitants, Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s most populous nation; it’s also the world’s largest Muslim country. Its nearly 20,000 tropical islands are home to beaches, mountains, rainforests, and bustling metropolises like Jakarta.

Indonesia’s islands may be half a world away from the Berkshire hills. But an Indonesian-born filmmaker living in Berkshire County is finding ways to bring her native home and her adopted home closer together.

About NEXT

NEXT is produced at Connecticut Public Radio
Host: John Dankosky
Digital Producer: Carlos Mejia
Executive Producer: Catie Talarski
Contributors to this episode: Diane Orson, Shannon Dooling, John Dillon, Angela Evancie, Lily Tyson, Rebecca Sheir 
Music: Todd Merrell, “New England” by Goodnight Blue Moon, “I’m Not Coming Home” by Wise Old Moon, “Dangerous Man” by Chris Ross and the North

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