Sandhya Dirks

Sandhya Dirks arrived in Iowa in January of 2012 as a general assignment reporter. Since coming to Des Moines she has covered the Statehouse and traveled across Iowa to bring back stories for IPR. Sandhya was previously a reporter at KALW in San Francisco, covering education and criminal justice issues. Her work was awarded a SPJ Sigma Delta Chi and a regional Edward R. Murrow award.

Most recently, Sandhya earned her Master of Science from Columbia Journalism School in New York. Her master’s project was an investigative documentary about international adoption for which she was awarded the Pasty Preston Pulitzer Documentary Fellowship.

Sandhya’s favorite public radio program is Radiolab.

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1:45pm

Mon April 29, 2013
U.S.

With Or Without Overhaul, Immigration Lawyers In Short Supply

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:48 pm

People attend a legal clinic for deferred action applicants in New York in August. Immigration attorneys say demand for their services outstrips the nation's supply of trained immigration lawyers.
Richard Drew AP

With immigration a hot-button issue in Washington, some version of immigration reform is likely this year. Even so, immigrant activist Sandra Sanchez concedes that the country might not be ready for an overhaul of its immigration laws.

Sanchez, director of the American Friends Service Committee Iowa's Immigrants Voice Program, doesn't mean that in political terms, but in practical ones. "We need to be prepared for the wave of millions of potential applicants that will be needing ... legal services," she says. "And we will not have enough resources to serve them."

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4:31pm

Sat November 3, 2012
It's All Politics

In Iowa, The Physics Of Politics

More than half a million Iowans had already voted as of Thursday — a new record.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Both campaigns want to claim momentum heading into the final days of the campaign. This is especially true in battleground states like Iowa, where enthusiasm and voter turnout can make all the difference.

It's a common political metaphor — momentum — but is it a good one?

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4:53pm

Wed October 24, 2012
Around the Nation

Vote While You Shop: 'Pop-Up' Poll Sites Sweep Iowa

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 5:37 pm

Satellite voting locations, like this one at a Latino grocery in Des Moines, Iowa, are designed to make early voting more convenient.
Sandhya Dirks for NPR

In a number of swing states, early voting means many people are already casting their ballots. Typically, that entails voting by mail or visiting a county elections office.

But in Iowa, satellite voting — where "pop-up" polling stations allow people to vote at convenient times and nontraditional locations — is growing in popularity.

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5:02pm

Fri June 22, 2012
Around the Nation

A Century-Old Grotto That Might Out-Glitter Vegas

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 5:11 pm

Father Paul Dobberstein began building the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa, 100 years ago. It's covered with stones, rocks, petrified wood and seashells.
Denise Krebs via Flickr

The Midwest is known for its roadside attractions — world's largest ear of corn, heaviest ball of twine, biggest truck stop.

But it's also home to one of the largest collections of grottoes in the world. Most of these man-made caves were created by immigrant priests at the beginning of the 20th century. And the mother of them all — encrusted in $6 million worth of semiprecious stones — is in West Bend, Iowa.

This weekend, the Grotto of the Redemption turns 100.

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