On a recent rainy afternoon, traffic in Dorchester was moving slowly and Annissa Essaibi George was out of breath — and running late.

“Oh my god, the rain, the school busses,” she said, apologizing for being late, as she stepped into the Stitch House, the knitting and sewing shop she opened 18 years ago.

Bright colored yarn and wool cover the walls and fill the store’s shelves. The shop also offers classes in knitting, sewing and crochet — hobbies that Essaibi George loves.

On a recent afternoon at Michelle Wu’s campaign headquarters in Jamaica Plain, the candidate was on the run, chasing one of her two young sons around the office.

Wu said her son didn’t go to school that morning due to “some issues and moods,” so she and her husband split the day with him.

“We had popcorn spilled out all over the office, a cup thrown in a tantrum and lots of running around,” Wu said.


A western Massachusetts political figure is taking the rare step of running for statewide office. Shrinking population could cost the western part of the state a little political influence the next time state lawmakers are elected. More evacuees from Afghanistan are arriving each day in western New England, where residents are offering warm welcomes.

Afghan evacuees disembark a U.S. military plane in Italy in August 2021.
Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Young / U.S. Navy

The first of dozens of expected Afghan evacuees have arrived in western Massachusetts.


Evacuees from Afghanistan arriving in New England to begin difficult adjustments are the latest of many groups to seek refuge here. All have faced both unique and similar challenges.

An Afghan evacuee being transported to the U.S. Air Force Regional Medical Center in Wiesbaden, Germany.
MSGT Patrick Nugent / U.S. Air Force

Afghan families are beginning to arrive in Massachusetts and some local resettlement agencies serving the western part of the state are making final preparations.

Just two days after moving into a Worcester triple-decker, 40 days after they fled Afghanistan, the Atayi family has already found community.

A cousin and her family, along with a handful of other Afghan immigrants who came in recent years, are here to welcome the new arrivals. They gather around a coffee table with plates of cookies and pistachios.

Khalid Atayi offers guests green tea. His 9-year-old daughter, Khadija, jumps up to fill everyone’s cups.

Freshta Abedi (right) at an Afghan diaspora protest in Washington on September 12, 2021.
Courtesy / Freshta Abedi

Updated at 1:30 p.m. on 10/6/21

Refugee resettlement agencies in New England are preparing to welcome hundreds of Afghanistan evacuees. Volunteers are lending their expertise to help agencies with the new arrivals. That includes people who have personally been through many of the same experiences.

An Afghanistan evacuee deplanes in Italy on August 22, 2021, assisted by U.S. military.
Sgt. William Chockey / U.S. Marine Corps

Refugee resettlement agencies are preparing for hundreds of evacuees from Afghanistan coming to western Massachusetts.

Connecticut expects to welcome hundreds of Afghan refugees in the next couple of months as resettlement agencies and groups across the state are assigned families already on military bases.

But as advocates ramp up efforts to receive as many families as possible, they’re also calling on the U.S. State Department to focus on those who haven’t been able to leave the Taliban-controlled country despite their ties to the U.S.

Advocates say dozens of Afghan Americans from Connecticut are still stuck in Kabul with no way out.

A sign, in rainbow colors, welcoming refugees.
Ra Dragon / Creative Commons

Refugee resettlement agencies are rushing to find resources for people who will be arriving from Afghanistan.

Connecticut refugee resettlement agencies expect to take in hundreds of Afghan refugees and visa-holders as the Taliban retake the country. The agencies said they’re facing immense challenges.

Joel Muniz / Creative Commons

A food bank official says some immigrants in western Massachusetts are not getting federal benefits they're eligible for.

Late on Monday night, two cars filled with luggage and seven tired travelers pulled up in front of the New Haven headquarters of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, or IRIS.

Photophiend / Creative Commons /

Starting Monday, August 9, American tourists who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are again able to cross the Canadian border. The border has been closed since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only essential travel and trade permitted to pass between the two countries.

Rumbila Abdullahi and her husband Ibrahim Abdi hold their newborn son, Nabeel, outside their home in the Sixteen Acres neighborhood of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Ben James / NEPM

In early May, Smith College senior Rumbila Abdullahi relaxed on a couch in her living room off a quiet street in the Sixteen Acres neighborhood of Springfield, Massachusetts. She wore a baati — a traditional Somali dress — and a hijab.

What does it mean to live between cultures, languages and genders? That's something Vietnamese American author Ocean Vuong knows well.

Lucio Perez, at a ceremony marking his departure from sanctuary in an Amherst, Massachusetts, church, on March 13, 2021.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Advocates for a Guatemalan man, who was in sanctuary for more than three years in western Massachusetts, say a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision could help him stay in the country.

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder examine Section 287(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This, following news from the Department of Homeland Security informing the Bristol County Sheriff's Office that the department will sever all contractural ties with North Dartmouth's ICE-affiliated detention center. You'll hear from Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and ACLU lawyer Dan McFadden on the allegations of violence and inhumane living conditions that led to the facility's closure.

Comedian Zul Manzi of Springfield, Massachusetts, has a new animated series called "The Matumbila's."
Courtesy / Zul Manzi

A cartoon sitcom about a Tanzanian family living in a fictional western Massachusetts town has just wrapped up its first season.

In his first address to joint congress, President Joe Biden introduced agenda polices surrounding child care, education, and immigration. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will dissect President Biden’s key components of his address then talk with members of the community that will be directly affected.

Correction: This episode incorrectly stated that nearly 1.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Massachusetts. As of this airing, the actual number of doses administered in Massachusetts was roughly 6 million.

A van from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
State of Massachusetts

A lawyer who works with people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement said some of them are not happy after they were transferred from a facility in Greenfield, Massachusetts, to one in the eastern part of the state.

This year's version of Tinky Weisblat's matzo ball soup, recipe courtesy of her grandmother, who is alleged to have been either a spy or a smuggler in her youth.
Tinky Weisblat / Courtesy of the author

My father’s mother wasn’t what I’d call kitchen-oriented. As a young woman in Poland, she lived a busy life outside the home. We were told she’d been a spy in her youth. Or maybe a smuggler. The tales were murky.

Health care advocates and immigrants rights groups are urging Connecticut lawmakers to expand the state’s Medicaid program eligibility to undocumented immigrants.

Proposed legislation in the state human services committee would allow anyone who meets state residency and income thresholds to enroll in HUSKY Health plans, regardless of citizenship status. 

Lucio Perez, at a ceremony marking his departure from sanctuary in an Amherst, Massachusetts, church, on March 13, 2021.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

After more than three years, a Springfield, Massachusetts, man who faced deportation and found sanctuary in a church has reunited with his family.

Immigration Enforcement Bill Supporters In Massachusetts See Improved Climate

Feb 2, 2021
More than 200 people turned up at the corner of Washington and School Streets to the SEIU immigrant rally in reaction to statements made by President Trump threatening to strip federal funding from so-called "sanctuary cities."
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Massachusetts lawmakers and immigration reform activists are hopeful that a national reckoning on racial justice can generate enough momentum to secure passage this session on a bill divesting local police from most interactions with federal immigration enforcement.

Carolyn Robbins / The Republican / Masslive

A group that settles refugees in western Massachusetts said the future of the program is unclear, even with the change at the White House.

Angelica Llanos and her family.
Courtesy Angelica Llanos

When she was 15 years old, Angelica Llanos arrived — undocumented — in Norwalk, Connecticut, from Colombia. She lived with her mother and sister, finished high school, studied for two years at Norwalk Community College but had to drop out because she was ineligible for financial aid.

Early in the pandemic, Xiomy De la Cruz was working at a fast-food restaurant when her work hours were cut back. She is a Peruvian refugee and a single mother with two children and another on the way. Like many families, she found herself in various pantry lines to make ends meet.

Hassan Aden, at right, of Enfield, Connecticut, in May 2020 with family members, in the field he farms in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Ben James / NEPM

I first met Hassan Aden last spring. My farm in Northampton, Massachusetts, sits right next to the half-acre plot that Aden and his family began working in May.