Timeless Stories About Immigrant Life In America

Sara Martinez at a legal clinic for undocumented youth on the Lower East on the first day of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; photo: Aaron Leaf

From the 2012 presidential election to the introduction of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to Hurricane Sandy, Feet in 2 Worlds covered big stories during my tenure as editor. We published biting commentary by Erwin de Leon, offered wide-ranging podcasts and presented town hall events like Unlocking the Latino Vote, which accurately forecast the central role of Latinos in President Obama’s reelection.

Whenever possible we reported from the scene of developing stories. On the first day of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), we were at a legal clinic for undocumented youth on the Lower East Side. After Hurricane Sandy, we were in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, reporting on immigrant businesses in the neighborhood.

But the stories I have chosen to highlight here are different. These are features that dig below the surface of the big headlines, mixing audio, narrative writing, and images to create timeless stories about immigrant life in America.

Check out Aaron’s favorite Fi2W stories:
“Separated by War, Immigrant Mother Weighs Returning to Her Husband in Syria or Keeping Her Baby Safe in the U.S.”
“Female-Friendly Car Club Defies Lowrider Stereotypes”
“Immigrant Farmworkers, a Hidden Part of NY’S Local Food Movement”

Yael Even Or’s article about a family caught between Brooklyn and Syria came out of Feet in 2 Worlds’ graduate-level journalism course in the New School’s Media Studies Program. At the time, the Syrian civil war had not yet become the defining international story it is today, and the difficult decisions facing Ahlam, the woman at the center the article, struck a chord with readers. (Yael went on to produce a related segment for WNYC.)

Veronica Zaragovia’s story about a lowrider car club for women in Texas exemplifies Feet in 2 Worlds’ multimedia format. A radio journalist by training, Veronica wrote a print feature, created a related photo essay, and recorded audio for our podcast. The result was an iconic story about culture, gender, and identity in the American Southwest.

Aurora Almendral’s story about immigrant farmworkers (shown below) in the Hudson Valley (also featured on WNYC) investigated labor laws and living conditions for migrant workers in order to help New Yorkers understand how food is grown and delivered to our plates.

A worker takes in a crate of produce from the fields at Glebocki farms; photo: Courtney Dudley

My time at Feet in 2 Worlds coincided with my studies in the Graduate Program of International Affairs at The New School. Being simultaneously a part of both academia and journalism helped me understand how media, politics, and policy work together to create and hinder social change.

Moreover, my experience taught me that American immigration policy is central to how we interact with the rest of the world. That’s why it’s so vital that our national discussion around these issues be informed and inclusive — something Feet in 2 Worlds is dedicated to achieving.

I’m now the managing editor of Ruins Magazine and a freelance writer with recent bylines at Al Jazeera America and The Nation, among others. And I’m looking forward to another 10 years of great Feet in 2 Worlds journalism.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation.

AboutAaron Leaf
Aaron Leaf is a writer, editor, and digital producer based in New York with a special interest in African politics, immigrant diasporas, and the future of cities. Raised in Canada, he has lived on four continents and has written for a wide variety of publications. Recent bylines include Al Jazeera America, The Nation, The Globe and Mail and The Guardian.