HOMELAND: IMMIGRATION IN AMERICA presents the story of new immigrants who find themselves walking a fine line between access to and expulsion from the American dream. It’s also a story of American citizens who wonder if legal and illegal immigrants threaten their way of life. These intertwined and complex issues may have a significant effect on the choices people make when they go to the polls in November. HOMELAND reveals the complex economic, political, personal and cultural dilemmas that are often portrayed as simple choices of right or wrong, legal or illegal. Immigration is not just a short-term border state issue; it is a national and local issue with long-term consequences for communities and the nation as a whole.The first two hours of HOMELAND: IMMIGRATION IN AMERICA are part of PBS’s primetime schedule. A third part airs on selected PBS stations. Part one, “Jobs” (July 20), looked at the spectrum of immigrant jobs and the complex maze of rules, regulations, caps and quotas challenging our country at many levels. Among the people included in “Jobs” were an American-educated Taiwanese scientist searching for an employer to sponsor her visa and immigrant workers in a sleepy Ozark town who have brought a much-needed economic turnaround, but also language barriers and culture clashes.
Part two, “Enforcement” (July 27), cuts through the heated rhetoric to explore how communities and the nation struggle to enforce inconsistent immigration policies. One story explains why two Kansas City beat cops have adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward legal status, knowing that aggressive enforcement threatens to break community trust when illegal and legal immigrants live side by side, often in the same family.
The third part, “Refugees” (check local listings), takes viewers to the heart of America’s humanitarian position as a refuge for those fleeing violence, disaster, war and persecution around the world. The stories in this hour illustrate the forces and factors that can lead refugees to a life of stability and success or to isolation, welfare and homelessness. The full episode will be available in this space after August 3.
HOMELAND travels to small towns and big cities that are dealing with immigration, towns such as tiny Monett, Missouri, where immigrants fuel the poultry processing industry. The series also meets with experts around the country, from Los Angeles, where UCLA professor Abel Valenzuela talks about the impact of immigrant labor, to Washington, DC, where policy-makers wrestle with the concerns of humanitarian, political and business interests. Among those interviewed are Michael Chertoff, former secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush; former governor and U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico); Juan Williams, political analyst, FOX News; Edward Alden, senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; and Sasha Chanoff, executive director, Mapendo International, an organization dedicated to refugee rescue, relief and resettlement in Africa and the U.S.