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.

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.

The Obama administration is under growing pressure to change its policies governing the detention of thousands of migrants who came to the United States illegally.

Maybe it is a coincidence, but consider what has happened this past week:

Lawrence Ferlinghetti lives in a modest second-story walk-up in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. Hanging on his walls are his doctorate from the Sorbonne, an unframed Paul Gaugin print and posters of celebrated poetry readings dating back to the days when he personified a hip, literate and rebellious San Francisco. Not that he's nostalgic.

"Everything was better than it is when you're old," he says.