How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

LA couple free to leave Qatar after acquittal in adopted daughter's death

Matthew and Grace Huang

Osama Faisal/AP

Nearly two years after the death of their adopted daughter in Qatar, Matthew and Grace Huang are free to leave the country.

Matthew and Grace Huang are free to leave Qatar nearly two years after they were implicated in the death of their adopted daughter.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Los Angeles couple was cleared to travel Wednesday, just days after a Qatari appeals court exonerated the couple in the 2013 death of one of their three adopted children. Kerry laid to rest the Huangs' fears that their acquittal would be appealed in a statement:

The Attorney General of the State of Qatar has informed the U.S. Embassy in Qatar that no further appeal will be filed in the case of Matthew and Grace Huang. At the opening of business on Wednesday December 3, the travel ban will be lifted and Mr. and Mrs. Huang will be free to travel. The United States applauds this decision, and we look forward to seeing the Huangs reunited with their children at home.


Immigration reform: Who doesn't benefit from Obama's plan?

New York Immigrant Groups Rally To Celebrate Obama Announcement On Immigration

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Immigrant rights activists gather to celebrate President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration policy in Washington Square Park on November 21, 2014 in New York City. While millions of immigrants without legal status stand to benefit from temporary deportation relief under the plan, roughly 5.8 million will be ineligible.

It's well known by now who stands to benefit from President Obama's immigration plan: Immigrants without legal status who have lived in the United States at least five years and are parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents - and immigrants who arrived as children before 2010.  They are the two main groups eligible for deportation relief.

But what about those who don't stand to benefit? There are many of them, roughly 5.8 million according to data released Monday by the Pew Research Center. These include people who are relative newcomers, single immigrants without children and others.

According to Pew, those ineligible for temporary relief under Obama's executive action plan are more likely to be unmarried, and to not have U.S.-born children. And more are likely to be from countries other than Mexico.


Update: Couple held in Qatar since daughter's death blocked from leaving again

Mideast Qatar Adoption Case

Osama Faisal/AP

Matthew and Grace Huang, from the Los Angeles area, have been barred from leaving Qatar, even after being exonerated in the death of their adoptive daughter. (File Photo)

Updated 1:07 p.m.: Couple held in Qatar since daughter's death stopped again

The Los Angeles couple trying to return to the United States after a Qatari court acquitted them in the death of their adopted daughter was reportedly stopped from exiting the country for the second time.

Matt and Grace Huang were blocked from leaving the Doha airport on Sunday, hours after they had been cleared of wrongdoing, and they were denied departure again on Monday, according to their representative.

Eric Volz of The David House Agency has been assisting the Huangs in Qatar and released a statement on behalf of the couple:

"Today in Qatar, Matt and Grace Huang were once again barred from leaving the country.  After being found innocent yesterday morning of all the charges leveled against them, they are still not allowed to return to their home in Los Angeles.

"We continue to plead with the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Dana Smith, the Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama to call the Emir of Qatar to free these two innocent American citizens.

"It is important to note that all the proper paperwork has been filed to allow them to leave Qatar.  Any statements blaming Matt and Grace for these latest delays are not based in truth."


In immigration news: Executive action and 'dreamer' parents, the coming battle in Congress, Indian immigrants in the shadows, more


Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

One of several businesses on Pioneer Blvd. in Artesia, Calif., along the commercial strip known as Little India. Recent data released by the Pew Research Center shows immigrants from India as making up the largest number of unauthorized immigrants from Asia.

Why Obama’s executive action on immigration excluded parents of ‘dreamers’ - Washington Post Immigrant advocates sought to have the parents of young people who have temporary legal status under deferred action included in the immigration relief that will be offered under President Obama's new plan. But administration officials say it wasn't legally feasible: "...lawyers from the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the White House examined the legal arguments and decided against it. 'We looked at this pretty hard,' one senior administration official said in an interview last week.

Congress returns with immigration action threatening to fuel budget fight - Fox News Congress is back for two more weeks, and one issue that will come up is how members of the GOP-led House will deal with President Obama's recent action on immigration. The "lower chamber is more likely to attempt to craft a temporary spending bill that will limit President Obama’s ability to spend money to carry out the executive orders on immigration he announced in November."


Microcredit expands for LA entrepreneurs

Microloans in LA - 1

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Client Mercedes Pedroza works out at Extreme Workout Team in Huntington Park on Tuesday morning, Nov. 18, 2014. Funding help for the fitness studio came from Grameen, an international micro-loan foundation.

Microloans in LA - 2

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Grameen borrower Celia Beatriz Rivas, owner of Extreme Workout Team, has received four loans for her fitness studio. The loans have gone towards equipment for the studio.

Microloans in LA - 3

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Celia Beatriz Rivas has been receiving loans from Grameen for two years. Rivas went to larger banks asking for loans, but all of them said no.

Microloans in LA - 4

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Stationary spin bicycles cost Celia Beatriz Rivas $200 each. Grameen micro-loans have also helped Rivas purchase dumbbells, weight machines and other equipment.

Microloans in LA - 5

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Clients Mercedes Pedroza, left, and Sahara Leon work out together on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at Extreme Workout Team in Huntington Park. One week ago, Celia Beatriz Rivas moved the fitness studio to a larger space.

Microloans in LA - 6

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Client Sahara Leon says she likes Extreme Workout Team because it's more affordable and personalized than larger chain gyms.

Thumping dance music rattled her Huntington Park fitness studio, as Celia Rivas ran her students through a circuit of aerobics, weights and spinning. 

Originally from El Salvador, Rivas has a passion for keeping other immigrant women fit.

"My part is doing the exercise," Rivas said. "Their part is to eat healthy."

But this studio almost didn't happen. A divorce had left her with credit card and car payments she couldn’t make on her own, destroying her credit score.

At a time no other banks would consider her for a loan, she learned through an acquaintance about a non-profit microlender called Grameen America which was offering $1,500 to entrepreneurs.

"I was like, no, [there] has to be a catch," Rivas said. 

Helping would-be entrepreneurs

Grameen founder Muhamad Yunus pioneered the practice of offering small business loans to poor villagers in Bangladesh with no credit - and won a Nobel prize for his efforts.