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'The Reality At The Border' Online Submission For The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award


San Antonio is known as the “gateway to the border.” It is the closest major city to the Rio Grande Valley and to commercial hubs in Laredo and Del Rio. Texas Public Radio has covered immigration and border issues for more than two decades but reporters have had to travel up to five hours each way in order to report many of these stories. The addition of TPR’s first-ever Immigration and U.S.-Mexico Border Reporter on January 1 enabled the TPR News team to utilize its institutional knowledge, to work better as a team and to comprehensively cover immigration issues.


Mother, Daughter Reunite In San Antonio Before Court Ordered Deadline | July 27, 2018

Bonnie Petrie followed families who were reunited in San Antonio following their separation last summer. This was one of several pieces documenting these stories that were picked up by stations throughout Texas and NPR.


Abrupt Release From Detention Sends Many Immigrants Through San Antonio | October 28, 2018

This covered the first of several abrupt releases of detained migrants. David Martin Davies captured the scene, and this report led to a series of stories exploring how ICE release policies impact migrants and the organizations that try to care for them.


Fear And Calm: Rio Grande Valley Residents React To Border Troops | November 18, 2018 and Most Troops Have Left The Texas Border, And Opinions Are Mixed On What They Accomplished | January 9, 2019

These two pieces from Carson Frame documented President Trump’s decision to send troops to the border right before the 2018 midterm elections. Carson traveled to the Rio Grande Valley to listen to residents' opinions about the deployment, and then she returned three months later to gather their reactions and to analyze the legacy of the short-lived deployment.

A meeting of Hidalgo County Republicans on the eve of President Trump's visit.

Hidalgo County Republicans Debate Border Wall Ahead Of Trump Visit | January 9, 2018

Ahead of President Trump’s visit to McAllen during a government shutdown over wall funding, Reynaldo Leanos Jr. gathered thoughts from local Republicans.


Border Security At Eagle Pass Crossing Tightens As Army, Police Watch Migrants Gathered Across River | February 5, 2019

Joey Palacios traveled to Eagle Pass to report for TPR and NPR about President Trump’s decision to send troops to confront a migrant caravan headed for the U.S.-Mexico border.


The Reality at the Border: A Wall In My Backyard | February 15, 2019


This was the first story in our series "The Reality at the Border." The story took weeks of planning and effort to find real people who would be directly impacted by a proposed border wall. Reporting included views on both sides of the debate and an RGV resident who saw the wall built through her backyard. Our main source was the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the federal government. Two of our sources in this story became go-to sources for our continuing coverage of how proposed border walls will affect communities in the Rio Grande Valley. The radio and video stories were picked up by NPR and aired nationally on All Things Considered.


Drag Queens Protest At Border Wall To Raise Money For LGBTQ Asylum Seekers | February 25, 2019

Credit Reynaldo Leaños Jr. / Texas Public Radio

Drag performers around the Rio Grande Valley gathered in Brownsville in front of existing border wall to host a peaceful protest and show their opposition to more border wall construction in the region. The event was also a stand in solidarity with LGBTQ asylum seekers.


The Reality At The Border: Butterflies And The Border Wall | March 1, 2019

The story was part of our ongoing coverage of the environmental impact of proposed border wall. This story aired on public radio stations throughout Texas.



Valley Residents Celebrate Dual Cultural Histories That Flow Beyond Borders | March 3 , 2019 


Reynaldo Leaños Jr. reported from Brownsville for Charro Days, a multi-day annual event that commemorates the relationship between Brownsville and Matamoros, its sister city in Mexico. This story explored how some residents took a moment to reconnect with their Mexican roots, while others reflected on how much the border region changed in recent years.


The Reality At The Border: Valley Residents Defiant In Shadow Of A Growing Wall | March 19, 2019

This was a follow-up to "A Wall In My Backyard," the first story in the "Reality at the Border" series. This story examined how residents and municipalities responded to the federal government's use of eminent domain to build more wall in the Rio Grande Valley. This story was picked up nationally by NPR.


The Reality At The Border: 'It Is Not The U.S. It Is Not Mexico. It Is A Transitional Land.' | April 5, 2019


The federal government built a new tent facility in Donna, Texas, to deal with the influx of migrants from Central America, and TPR toured the space. NPR picked up the digital version of this story.


Shelters And City Governments Scramble To Help Migrants In The Rio Grande Valley | April 7, 2019

Reynaldo Leanos Jr. visited the Good Neighbor Settlement House, a homeless shelter in Brownsville that was used to house migrants released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody. The story originally aired on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday.


'They Separated My Dad And My Oldest Brother'—Crystal City Camp Survivors Protest Family Separation| April 5, 2019

TPR's Norma Martinez visited the site of a Japanese internment camp during World War II. She spoke to survivors and outline parallels between today's asylum seekers and what families experienced in the 1940s. 


The Reality At The Border: Inside A New Migrant Tent Facility | May 2, 2019


TPR went inside a new tent facility in Donna, Texas, constructed to deal with the influx of migrants from Central America. This story was picked up nationally by NPR.


The Reality At The Border: School That Once Educated Unwanted Kids Now Cares For Migrants | June 21, 2019  

This story was one of a number of pieces looking at how different communities cared for migrants from Central America.


Migrants Sent To San Antonio Welcomed With Open Arms And Open Hearts | April 1, 2018

This continued the thread of looking into how communities stepped in to improve the situation. The City of San Antonio took a welcoming approach.


Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach In Shadow Of Laredo Border Crossing | April 13, 2019


TPR was the only broadcaster to cover this event. The radio and video stories were picked up by NPR and subsequently by the BBC, Al Jazeera, Time, CNN, and the Los Angeles Times.


Laredo, Now No. 1 U.S. Trade Hub, Feels Impact Of Trump’s Tariff Threats | May 31, 2019


This was one of a number of stories about how Laredo, now the top U.S. trade hub, is dealing with the economic consequences of the Trump administration's rhetoric towards Mexico. This story was picked up nationally by NPR.


As More Migrants Cross Rio Grande, Border Patrol Rescues Surge | June 9, 2019

Reynaldo Leanos Jr. traveled to Eagle Pass to ride alongside Border Patrol agents as they patrolled the Rio Grande. Agents have saved a record number of migrants from drowning in the river. This story was picked up nationally by NPR.


San Antonio Is Temporary Home For Central African Migrants | June 10, 2019

TPR's Bonnie Petrie documented the journey of Congolese migrants who made their way from the border city of Del Rio to San Antonio and then on to Portland, Maine.


26-Year-Old Immigration Attorney Challenges Incumbent Rep. Cuellar For Seat In Congress | June 24, 2019

This story profiled Jessica Cisneros, an immigration lawyer challenging fellow Democrat Henry Cuellar's bid to return to the U.S. House of Representatives. Stations throughout Texas aired the story about the growing fight for the state's 28th District seat.


People Are Trying To Donate To Detained Migrants. Border Patrol Won't Accept It | June 26, 2019

This story highlighted the outpouring of concern nationwide after allegations that more than 300 children were being detained in a Clint, Texas facility without adequate food, water or sanitation. TPR's Ryan Poppe interviewed a state representative about the response U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials gave to the criticism and offers of donations.  


Border Community Remembers Father And Daughter Who Drowned Crossing The Rio GrandeJune 30, 2019


A photo showing a Salvadoran father and daughter lying face down in the Rio Grande after they died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border has made its way to every corner of the internet and has come to symbolize the plight of many migrants attempting to come to America. Residents in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley held vigils to remember the lives of Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria.