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'The Reality At The Border' Awards Submission For Multimedia Presentation


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.


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.



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: Butterflies And The Border Wall | March 1, 2019


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



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



This was a profile of Hugh Fitzsimons, rancher in Dimmitt County who saw his opinion on migrant crossings change after he interacted with a migrant. NPR picked up the digital version of this story

WATCH VIDEO: 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.



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

The federal government built a new tent facility in Donna, Texas, to deal with the influx of migrants from Central America, and TPR got a rare glimpse inside during a tour of the space. This story was picked up nationally by NPR.




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.

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 stepped in to care for migrants from Central America.


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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.


Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.