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Local Immigrant And Refugee Services Collaboration Connects Families To Resources

Courtesy of Jewish Family & Community Services
Leslie Aizenman, director of refugee and immigrant services for Jewish Family & Community Services, helps oversee projects for arrivals of all ages. The facility welcomed more than 20 refugee children to a gingerbread decorating party in December.

Jewish Family and Community Services in Squirrel Hill is partnering with Casa San Jose, Literacy Pittsburgh, Latino Family Center of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and South Hills Interfaith Movement to help foster community for immigrants and refugees in Pittsburgh. 

Leslie Aizenman, director of refugee and immigrant services, says she's seen a slight increase in the number people arriving in Pittsburgh this year, and new guidance from the Trump administration could further reduce those figures nationally by up to one-third. Aizenman explores what the Pittsburgh community is doing to help settle new residents, and how refugee assistance agencies are preparing for the Trump administration's change.

Credit Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA
Barbara Rudiak, president of the South Side Community Council, stands in front of the Brashear Association building. Rudiak and SSCC's executive board meet and conduct business there and throughout the neighborhood.

Later in the program:

Over the years, South Side has evolved from a hub for mills to a hub for nightlife. The South Side Community Council, a group of volunteers who focus on community beautification and other projects, are working to create a sense of community that they feel has been lost in recent years. 90.5 WESA’s Brian Cook spoke to members of the council about their work to preserve the neighborhood’s past while providing for its future.

The trial of a white police officer charged with fatally shooting unarmed black teen Antwon Rose last summer will begin at the Allegheny County Courthouse on Tuesday. 90.5 WESA’s An-Li Herring reports that demonstrators and activists say that Rose’s death fits a pattern of police brutality, while legal analysts say that the law gives the police the benefit of the doubt. 

Rural students do not attend or complete college at the same rate as their urban and suburban counterparts. A new school in northern Pennsylvania is trying to reduce two of the major obstacles rural students face: cost and access. Keystone Crossroads’ Min Xian reports that the school’s non-traditional system includes a network of libraries and classrooms across the region which allows for convenience and affordability. 

And the H-1B visa is one of the most commonly used visas for foreign nationals in the United States. The window to file closes in two weeks, and a surge is expected from companies for foreign workers with special skills. Joel Pfeffer, a partner and immigration attorney with the Pittsburgh-based law firm Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, discusses how a change in the lottery selection system could impact the H-1b visa process and Pittsburgh businesses.

90.5 WESA's Alex Lenigan, Mick Stinelli and Julia Zenkevich contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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