Coming to America

For The Muncie Star, page T-15

Every year hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants make the perilous trek across the U.S.-Mexican border, risking arrest, detention and the threat of abuse as they seek refuge and a new life in the north.

According to David Davis of Ball State University’s minority development, the immigration will have a radical impact on the structure of American society. He said that by the turn of the century English will be the second language of the majority of Californians. Added to that are projections that within the next century white Americans will become the new minority.

This week, WBST will devote a series of special reports to chronicling the flow of those immigrants into the United States, focusing on the effects of the 1986 Immigration Act, which was designed to solve the immigration debate once and for all.

The stories – which coincide with the fourth anniversary of IRCA becoming law – started Saturday and will continue Monday through next Saturday on Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

At 8 p.,. Saturday, Weekend Edition host Scott Simon takes listeners to the San Diego-Tijuana border, where the largest number of undocumented immigrants cross into North America from Mexico and Central America each day.

“We have wanted to do stories on the border for some time because who can cross and who cannot tells a great deal about how we define America,” Simon said. “By reporting it from the perspective of people who break a fence, dodge trucks, swim through raw sewage and risk assault and robbery from thugs to get here, we saw the relationship between the immigrants and the INS from a different vantage entirely.”

“We witnessed the tensions firsthand, and found there are no easy solutions to the border issue.” said Mandalit del Barco, who produced the Weekend Edition reports. “We kept hearing about how ironic it is that while the walls come tumbling down all over Europe, they’re being built up more and more between the U.S. and Mexico.

At 6 a.m. Monday, Morning Edition host Bob Edwards will begin to examine the ramifications of the passage of IRCA.

  • MONDAY – When IRCA was enacted 4 years ago, 3 million immigrants became eligible for amnesty. In this first Morning Edition piece, NPR reporter Celeste Wesson reports on where those people are today and what their new found legal status has meant to them.
  • TUESDAY – NPR’s Katie Davis reports from Mexico on “The push factor,” the economic conditions in Mexico that force many Central and South Americans across the border in search of better wages and living conditions in the north.
  • WEDNESDAY – NPR’s Isabel Alegria reports from San Francisco on whether or not IRCA has created a deep underclass of those still-undocumented immigrants who have fallen through America’s safety net.
  • THURSDAY – Celeste Wesson reports on how U.S. businesses have been effected by IRCA, which for the first time made it illegal for employers to knowingly hire undocumented workers.
  • Friday – NPR’s Paz Chohen interviews lawmakers, proponents and opponents of expanded immigration, in a report from the nation’s capital on the failure direction of U.S. immigration policy.

“Some have benefited from legalization,” said Wesson of IRCA ramifications, “but, for example, among farm workers legalization hasn’t translated into better working conditions and higher wages.” Wesson visits a north San Diego camp where farm workers – many of whom are documented – live in the woods, in shacks made of plastic scraps.

Wesson says that when the law was passed, employers geared up to face sudden employee shortages and the need to pay a lot more for workers.

Celebrating Copland

Wednesday is Aaron Copland Day at WBST. In honor of his 90th birthday, a special tribute is being paid to one of America’s most beloved composers.

Starting at 1 p.m. on A Copland Celebration: A Keyboard Tribute, pianist Claudia Stevens of the College of William and Mary in Virginia performs a program of piano works by and in tribute to Copland.

The concert also features the works of Virgil Thompson, Leonard Bernstein, David Diamond, Richard Bales, Sheila Silver and Claudia Stevens.

A Copland Celebration: A Concert Band Tribute continues the Copland extravaganza with the united States Coast Guard Band, which will perform original Copland works and transcriptions for band.

Scheduled highlights include a performance of A Lincoln Portrait narrated by Walter Cronkite and Emblems, Copland’s only pure band work.

Adventures in Good Music with Karl Haas adds to the tribute at 7 p.m. A Tribute to Aaron Copland underlines why the composer is considered the dean of American Music.

The birthday bash reaches its climax at 8 p.m. with A Concert in Celebration of Aaron Copland’s 90th Birthday. This is a live broadcast of Minnesota’s Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

The Orchestra, under the direction of Peter Bay, will perform Copland’s Music for the Theatre, Quiet Cry, Three Latin American Sketches and Appalachian Spring.

David Speakman is a communications intern for WBST.