Staff Directory 6370441

Maya Rao

Reporter | Race and Immigration
Phone: 612-673-4210

Maya Rao covers race and immigration for the Star Tribune.

Rao wrote for The Press of Atlantic City and The Philadelphia Inquirer before moving to Minnesota in January 2012. She previously covered the federal government for the Star Tribune.
Recent content from Maya Rao
Saengmany Ratsabout and wife Gao Lee's income growth through the years enabled Lee to quit her job last year and focus solely on developing their coff

Asian Americans have the most income mobility in Minnesota

Asian Minnesotans have higher income mobility rates than not only other racial groups in the state but also Asian Americans in other states.
President Joe Biden speaks April 24, 2024, in Washington.

Advocates move to protect Ecuadorian migrants' status in Minnesota

They are joining a national movement to advocate for a federal designation that would allow Ecuadorians to have work permits and deportation protections.
Mahi Madhan Kumar, 16, walks through his school on Tuesday in Chanhassen.

He grew up legally in Minnesota, but immigration law gap may one day force student to leave

The conundrum illustrates the obstacles many legal immigrants face seeking a path to long-term stability in the United States
FILE - A border marker, between the United States and Canada is shown just outside of Emerson, Manitoba, on Jan. 20, 2022.

Two men plead not guilty for alleged role in freezing deaths of Indian family at border

The pair are accused of conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants into the U.S.
Jagdish and Vaishaliben Patel, with Dharmik, 3, and Vihangi, 11.

Two men indicted in case of four Indian nationals who froze to death at border

The superseding indictment includes more extensive criminal allegations against Steve Shand, who had been scheduled to face trial in Minnesota, and Harshkumar Patel.
St. Croix County supervisors debate a resolution to pause refugee resettlement Tuesday night in Hudson, Wis.

St. Croix County pauses refugee resettlement

The vote follows months of controversy over plans to bring 75 refugees to the Chippewa Valley.
Matthew Bocklund, former chair of the St. Croix County GOP, rallies proponents of pausing refugee resettlement before a March 5 meeting of the St. Cro

Refugee resettlement in western Wisconsin sparks backlash

"The whole process has just been horrible," says one county supervisor.
Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty speaks during a news conference, Wednesday Jan. 24, 2024 in Minneapolis.

Hennepin County Attorney's Office to ease path for immigrants to receive crime victim visas

Proponents say the new policy will make communities safer.

Minnesota court interpreters go back to work

After a seven week work stoppage, interpreters say it's time to collaborate with the judiciary in seeking more compensation.
Lena Kuletsky and Constantine Kuletsky, both Russian immigrants who were visiting from Virginia,  wrote letters in Russian to a Russian political pris

Minnesota letter campaign aims to support political prisoners in Russia

Russian-Americans in Minnesota are trying to channel anger over Putin's Russia into a letter-writing campaign to political prisoners there.
Ecuadorians chased a car hoping for work in Minneapolis on Feb. 7.

Migrants face tough competition for cash day jobs on one Minneapolis corner

Without work permits, the new arrivals hustle for work even as Minnesota's official labor market faces a shortage.
Clockwise from left; Mohammed Khuder, Olena Khuder, Ahmed Khuder, 15, and Yazan Khuder, 7, photographed at home in Minneapolis. Not pictured is their

'It makes me stronger': How one Minneapolis family navigated two wars

Mohamed and Olena Khuder last year resettled in Minnesota from Ukraine.
State Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, sent a letter to Minnesota Supreme Court justices saying he plans to hold an informational hearing on Minneso

Minnesota court interpreters support continuing work stoppage long term

State Sen. Ron Latz plans to hold a legislative hearing.

Minnesota is a top destination for migrants accepting free tickets to leave New York

The state ranks fifth in places asylum-seeking migrants went after landing in New York City.

State asks Minnesota court interpreters to keep working without pay resolution

Certified interpreters threatened to stop work on Monday.

Minnesota court interpreters threaten work stoppage, calling for higher pay

The interpreters sent a letter to State Court Administrator Jeff Shorba saying that a new compensation policy is "entirely unacceptable."
Somali refugee children play outside in an open field at Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya in July. Somalis make up the largest share of refugees

Number of refugees resettling in Minnesota rising, and more on way

More than 1,500 resettled in the Gopher State in the 2023 fiscal year, almost triple the amount from 2022.
Emerald ash borer has been killing ash trees throughout Minneapolis since it was discovered more than a decade ago, and the city has condemned about 1

Disadvantaged homeowners in Minneapolis get help paying for diseased tree removal

The Park Board says it's still seeking money for people whose trees were removed before 2022.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan speaks during a DFL rally outside the Minnesota State Capitol to encourage voting ahead of the midterm elections Friday, Nov.

New Minnesota law will ban employers from asking a job candidate's salary history

Advocates say the law that takes effect Jan. 1 will close the pay gap for women and people of color.

Minnesota Ukrainians worry what's next in war amid faltering aid

Multibillion-dollar aid packages for the country from Congress and the European Union have recently faltered.

Recent migrants fill a third of Hennepin County family homeless shelter system

As Ecuadorians come to the U.S. seeking asylum, the shelter system is turning people away.

Recent migrants fill a third of overwhelmed Hennepin County family homeless shelter system

Arianna Anderson with her children Zion Anderson-Thomas, 9, Zaila Anderson-Thomas, 2, and Zaniyah Anderson-Thomas, 6, in front of the troubled house s

Lawsuit: North Mpls. residents claim bias in unfair housing code enforcement by city

The suit, filed Tuesday in Hennepin County, claims enforcement is lax, especially for rental properties, in areas with high populations of people of color.
Mathias Shimirana, a refugee from Congo, chats with sponsors Mohamed “Elias” Dawid and Robsan Yusuf, who stopped by as he worked at Nashville Coop

Minnesota leads nation in new effort to welcome refugees through private sponsor groups

The state already is home to 10 private sponsor circles in the new Welcome Corps program.
Members of Temple Israel Pam Margolis and granddaughter Josie LaMere join in solidarity in light of the attacks in Israel at Beth El Synagogue in St.

Minnesotans gather to show support for Israel, Palestinians

Two Jewish organizations held distinctly contrasting remembrances for those lost in the Hamas attack and Israel's response.
Alegria Walker, 4, a descendant of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, takes a sip of water during a water ceremony on Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Ȟaȟa

'Bless this water': Indigenous Peoples' Day ceremony honors creek in Golden Valley

A water ceremony honored the west metro creek known to Indigenous people as Ȟaȟa Wakpadan.
Ismael took his two dogs for a walk to a nearby neighborhood park Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023 St. Paul, Minn. Ismael, who entered the U.S. from Mexico witho

Authorities won't deport St. Paul resident back to Mexico — but won't renew his work permit

The conundrum is one many unauthorized immigrants could be facing, their attorneys say.
The Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca, Minn.

Federal prison in Waseca faces lawsuit claiming Muslim woman forced to remove hijab for photo ID

The lawsuit alleges that the prison made her carry an ID displaying the picture.
Francisco Segovia, executive director of COPAL, spoke to supporters at the Minnesota Capitol last February.

Unauthorized immigrants eligible for Minnesota driver's licenses now

The law went into effect Sunday. Here's what applicants need to know.
Rosa, a recent immigrant from Ecuador who did not want to give her last name, sold fruit from a median in Minneapolis.

Selling for survival: Migrants peddle fruit on Twin Cities streets

Recent arrivals, mostly from Ecuador, skirt city regulations to make a living as they apply for asylum.

Second man charged in high-profile Minnetonka carjacking

The August carjacking, which took place in the front yard of a residential home, riled the Minnetonka community.
Fardowsa Bashir sat with her children, Saadiq Dahir, 6, left, Sadri, 2, center, and Anzal, 3, right, as she listened to them read to her in her home i

New census data is the deepest look yet at Minnesota's racial and ethnic diversity

Community leaders and policymakers hope the new detail will help them better serve subgroups.
Dasha Alieksieienko, an 11-year-old from Ukraine, competed for stuffed animals at the Minnesota State Fair’s Whopper Water game.

Through the eyes of a refugee: Minnesota State Fair inspires awe

Some Minnesotans are taking Ukrainian refugees to the fair this year for a taste of our state's traditions.
Patricia weeps as she shares about the journey she made leaving her children and coming to Minnesota.

'I felt desperate': Journey from Ecuador to Minnesota marked by poverty, exploitation and hope

Fort Snelling immigration court sees 12-fold surge in Ecuadorian cases since 2018.

Two years later, a renewed push to help Afghan evacuees gain citizenship

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and others have introduced legislation.
Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero.

How far does Supreme Court decision on web design for gay couples reach in Minnesota?

Groups in the state are still parsing out the effects on Minnesota's law prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations

Families, community call for independent investigation of crash that killed 5

Muslim leader says they want to know more about circumstances surrounding the collision.

Families, community call for independent investigation of crash that killed 5

During the funeral at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington on Monday, men carried the body of one of the five women killed in a car crash o

Reckless drivers killed their loved ones. Families say such drivers aren't punished enough

The horror of Derrick Thompson's crash that killed five in Minneapolis has rekindled outrage over those who kill with vehicles.
Derrick John Thompson was driving this car when he hit and permanently injured a pedestrian in 2018 in Montecito, Calif. He was sentenced to eight yea

After hitting pedestrian in California, Derrick Thompson complained he was charged too harshly

Depositions in a civil case show how Thompson's reckless driving left a wake of destruction long before the crash that killed five women in Minneapolis.

Results of federal investigation into Minneapolis police met with hope, skepticism

The question on many people's minds is whether the eventual consent decree will prompt meaningful change.

Record Minnesota immigration court backlog leads to long waits and frustration

With more than 23,300 pending cases, immigrants often wait years for a decision.
Ronald Perez, an asylum seeker from Venezuela, tried to book a U.S. Customs and Border Protection appointment through the CBP One app but received onl

Customs and Border Protection app for asylum seekers jammed by heavy use

Russian hoping to reach Minnesota has tried to schedule an appointment for nearly two weeks.
Siblings from Eden Prairie, from left, Ali Kambal, 9, Tala Kambal, 7, Yusif Kambal, 4, and Jude Kambal, 16, joined by friend Shahd Hagelsafy, 18, of W

War in Sudan hits hard for immigrants who now live in Minnesota

A group gathered Saturday in Minneapolis, sharing stories of family and loved ones scrambling for safety in Sudan.

War in Sudan hits hard for immigrants who now live in Minnesota

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison spoke to about 150 members of the Somali community and their supporters as they gathered Tuesday for the firs

Four things Minnesota Somalis want to see from the Legislature this year

Somali community leaders marked first Somali Day at the Minnesota State Capitol on Tuesday
Rob Bergmann, co-founder of Minneapolis-based F3 Gold, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Minneapolis geologists' plans to explore for gold in Black Hills raising environmental concerns

The company has emphasized it is only exploring for gold and that its proposals do not involve mining. Environmentalists aren't buying it.
Men participate in Friday prayers at Masjid Omar Islamic Center on Friday, April 28, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minn. ] LEILA NAVIDI • leila.navidi@startr

Muslims express confidence, concerns in the wake of Minneapolis mosque arsons

Worshipers at both mosques reflected a mix of fear and resolve.
An abandoned U.S. border crossing in Noyes, Minn.

Rescue of migrants shows rise in Minnesota, N.D. border crossings

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports significant spike this year, compared with two previous years.

Antiwar Russians fleeing home finding their way to Minnesota

Many of the asylum seekers from Russia are coming into the United States through Mexico.

Antiwar Russians fleeing home are finding their way to Minnesota

Andre Locke, the father of Amir Locke, spoke in February alongside attorney Ben Crump and Karen Wells, Amir’s mother.

Racial justice advocates offer mixed reviews of Minneapolis policing agreement

They were still absorbing the ramifications of the 144-page document and asking: Did it go far enough?
New Ukrainian refugees and new Home Depot employees Semen Romanov, right to left, Nazur Teteruk and Nataliia Dmytrenko, during training at a new Home

Jobs mean community to Ukrainian refugees in Minnesota

A Home Depot warehouse provides a lifeline to Minnesota group who fled war and are now starting work.

A new generation of Indigenous leaders takes inspiration from those at Wounded Knee

Facing a series of challenges, "the guidance that those Wounded Knee veterans gave to us was to never give up, to always do the right thing and stand up for the people even if it's hard," one said.
After a 7-mile trek, Native Americans merged and met at the Wounded Knee Memorial site South Dakota on Monday. Some walked, some rode horses and some

March marks 50 years since Wounded Knee occupation

Hundreds walked to Wounded Knee from four directions to recall the work of their ancestors who brought attention to treaty violations and demands for Indigenous rights.
Local American Indian Movement directors Lisa Bellanger, left, Jackie Nadeau, right, stand in front of a mural, in Minneapolis, Minn., on Friday, Feb.

Wounded Knee remembered: 1973 occupation led to resurgence of Native voice

50th anniversary of 71-day standoff to be commemorated at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on Feb. 24-27
A damaged building in Adiyaman, southern Turkey, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Thousands who lost their homes in a catastrophic earthquake huddled around ca

Roseville couple's relatives rescued from the rubble of Turkey earthquake

Turkish American Association of Minnesota is holding a fundraiser and collecting donations of goods on Friday in Chanhassen.
Stanislav Diborov, a recent Ukrainian refugee, hugged his housing case manager Hakizimana Emmanuel a hug as thanks for helping his family move into an

Normal refugee channels slowed dramatically, frustrating local immigrants with family in peril

While Ukrainian and Afghan immigrants are expedited in temporary programs, many others around the world wait.

Two arrested in India in deaths of family found frozen at Canada border a year ago

The two men are accused of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, attempt at culpable homicide, human trafficking and criminal conspiracy, an Indian official told the Canadian Press.

On MLK day, Twin Cities speakers urge 'keep moving forward' in justice fight, reparations push

Valerie Jarrett, CEO of the Obama Foundation, gave the keynote address at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Monday morning.
A “George Perry Floyd Square” commemorative street sign was unveiled at 38th and Chicago. FILE PHOTO by Aaron Lavinsky • aaron.lavinsky@startrib

George Floyd family fund accepting grant applications to help businesses

The grants are meant to help restore the struggling 38th and Chicago neighborhood in south Minneapolis.
Vadym Holiuk, shown with his wife, Liubov, and daughters Nastya, Anita and Alisa, was an electrical engineer working on the railroad in Ukraine. When

Highly skilled back home, refugees in Minnesota try to find fulfilling work

Local groups aim to help recent immigrants from Ukraine and Afghanistan find skilled jobs as the state grapples with a worker shortage.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud responded to the welcome from a cheering crowd of hundreds Thursday night, December 15, 2022 in the auditorium

Somali president draws crowds for Minneapolis speech

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was expected to address the fight against terrorist group al-Shabaab and a food crisis in Somalia.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud waved at a crowds of hundreds at the Minneapolis Convention Center in 2012. He returns this week for the first

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to visit Minneapolis on Thursday

He is expected to address the fight against terrorist group al-Shabab and a food crisis in Somalia.
The U’s Native American Promise Tuition Program has disappointed some who expected it to be available to more Native students.

Only 18 freshmen benefit in first year of U's Native American Promise Tuition Program

Some tribal leaders say the program is a promising first step, but they hope it will eventually include far more Native students.
Alexandra Cherkova and Alexi Cherkov, with their daughter Dasha, 7, welcomed newly arrived Ukrainians Elizabeth Surzhko, wrapped in the Ukrainian flag

Helped by others decades ago, Minnesotan now rescues Ukrainian refugees

Aswar Rahman, 28, started a nonprofit to bring Ukrainian refugees to the state and connect them with locals who sponsor them.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced the fraud case charges in September.

After fighting federal charges, man faces FBI allegations he took $5.9 million in meal fraud case

Haji Salad spent four years in jail on discredited FBI sex trafficking charges before he was federally indicted again this year in a massive meal fraud case.
Political advertisements, such as this billboard at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, have shown up in higher-crime neighborhoods — but not necess

Mpls. areas hit by crime want say with candidates, not slogans

Some leaders in the areas hit hardest by violence say they wish candidates would spend more time engaging them and residents instead of using public safety as a flashpoint in campaign ads.
Ukrainian refugee Natalia Kuchma waves goodbye to her five-year-old daughter Solomiia Kuchma at the Lake Harriet Community School's Lower Campus in Mi

Ukrainian mom keeps daughter safe in Minneapolis as husband fights Russians at home

Nataliia Kuchma, a doctor in her home country, landed in Minnesota with just two suitcases for her and her 5-year-old girl.

Ukrainian mom keeps daughter safe in Minneapolis as husband fights Russians at home

In Morris, regent's comments on diversity at the University of Minnesota sting students, faculty

Don Samuels, the former Minneapolis city councilman who ran a strong campaign against Rep. Ilhan Omar in the Democratic primary, says he will continue

'You don't really win': Don Samuels reflects on suing Minneapolis for more police

With the lawsuit finished, Samuels vowed to continue speaking on public safety.
Roman Khan is grateful that his children Yusuf, 5, Hamza, 10 months, and Mina, 6, get to grow up in St. Paul Park, not under Taliban rule.

One Minnesota interpreter's tumultuous year: Facing a tsunami of need after Afghan evacuation

Roman Khan settled in Minnesota years ago after serving the U.S. military as an interpreter. Now he helps evacuees start over here, while trying to get his family out of Afghanistan.
A man carries salvageable belongings from his flood-hit home in Shikarpur district of Sindh province, of Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022.

Efforts underway in Minnesota to raise money to help Pakistani flood victims

Local organizers are encouraging donations to Helping Hand for Relief and Development, Islamic Relief USA and the Pakistan-based Edhi Foundation.