Richard Gonzales

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.

Gonzales joined NPR in May 1986. He covered the U.S. State Department during the Iran-Contra Affair and the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Four years later, he assumed the post of White House Correspondent and reported on the prelude to the Gulf War and President George W. Bush's unsuccessful re-election bid. Gonzales covered the U.S. Congress for NPR from 1993-94, focusing on NAFTA and immigration and welfare reform.

In September 1995, Gonzales moved to his current position after spending a year as a John S. Knight Fellow Journalism at Stanford University.

In 2009, Gonzales won the Broadcast Journalism Award from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He also received the PASS Award in 2004 and 2005 from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for reports on California's juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

Prior to NPR, Gonzales was a freelance producer at public television station KQED in San Francisco. From 1979 to 1985, he held positions as a reporter, producer, and later, public affairs director at KPFA, a radio station in Berkeley, CA.

Gonzales graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in psychology and social relations. He is a co-founder of Familias Unidas, a bi-lingual social services program in his hometown of Richmond, California.

As President Obama tries to save his plan to shield some five million people from deportation, immigration activists have been marching and planning more demonstrations to support him.

Protesters rallied Friday in more than 20 cities, including Washington, DC, New York and Chicago. Actions are scheduled in nine other locations over the weekend.

They say they are mobilizing their constituents to fight for relaxed immigration enforcement because two courts have delayed the president's orders.

A new study of immigration to the United States shows that more Mexicans have returned home than have arrived here since 2009.

The report from the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Center also finds that the overall flow of Mexicans between the two countries is the smallest since the 1990s.

With President Obama's executive actions to shield up to five million immigrants from deportation now stalled in the courts, the conventional wisdom is that his proposal is a loser for the administration and the Democrats. Twenty-six states filed suit to stop him and it's safe to say an energized Republican base hasn't been enthusiastic about the president's idea.

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Without much fanfare, the Obama administration recently took a significant step towards helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people fleeing persecution. The State Department is expanding its interpretation of the term "spouse" to include partners of same sex refugees and asylum seekers.

At the same time that immigration is a hot-button issue on the presidential campaign trail, in the courts, immigration advocates are chipping away at the government's authority to detain non-citizens indefinitely.

Two rulings issued this week from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California say that detainees have the right to a bond hearing while they are fighting their deportation cases.

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A new report on conditions in immigrant detention centers around the country finds a systematic and ongoing failure by the Obama administration to adequately inspect facilities run by public and private contractors. The report alleges a pattern of basic human rights violations leading to deaths, suicides, violence and sexual assaults in facilities that were given a clean bill of health by federal inspectors.

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When is a conviction not a conviction?

That's one of the questions raised by California Gov. Jerry Brown as he vetoed a bill Thursday that would have protected immigrants—legal or not—with low level drug offenses from deportation.

In California, anyone who gets popped for a minor drug offense, like smoking a joint, can plead guilty and volunteer for drug treatment—usually about a year. Upon successful completion of drug counseling, that charge and conviction is wiped off one's record like it never happened.

It probably won't surprise you that there's a growing polarization among Americans over how to deal with several immigration policy proposals.

Whether it's Donald Trump's idea for a massive border fence or the proposal to change the Constitution so that babies of unauthorized residents aren't automatically made citizens, Republicans and Democrats are hardening their views, according to a new national survey issued by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center.

While Pope Francis is in Washington this week, he is scheduled to canonize Junipero Serra — an 18th century Spanish missionary and the founder of California's storied network of missions.

The canonization of Serra prompts a robust debate: Was the Franciscan friar, as the pontiff proclaims, a saint? Or was he, as many Native Americans argue, a villainous tool of Spanish conquest and genocide?

What's not being talked about is how Serra's missions became the blueprint for modern California.


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Federal immigration officials are issuing far fewer detainer requests, also known as immigration holds, to state and local law enforcement agencies seeking immigrants who are in this country illegally. At the same time, the requests that are issued don't appear to be targeting serious, or convicted, criminals.

As summer ends, it's becoming clear that we won't see a repeat of last year's "border surge" of Central American minors seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border.

That surge captivated headlines, clogged immigration courts, and caused President Obama to declare a border crisis last year.

But this year is different, according to researchers at the DC-based Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

"The numbers have declined almost as sharply in 2015 as they surged in 2014," said Marc Rosenblum, Deputy Director of MPI's Immigration Policy Program.

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While Donald Trump's recent position paper on immigration dominates headlines, a new study of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. digs into the latest numbers.

The Washington, D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute released "An Analysis of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States by Country and Region of Birth." It's based on U.S. Census Bureau data.

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Editor's Note: Unaccompanied minors surged across the U.S. southern border last year. In response, the Obama administration has introduced a program that would allow families to reunite. In this story about the divided Leveron family, NPR's Richard Gonzales reports first from California, followed by Carrie Kahn in El Salvador.