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2020 Entry — Continuing Coverage for Murrow Awards: 'The Reality At The Border'

Veronica G. Cardenas for Texas Public Radio

Texas Public Radio documented the evolution of U.S. immigration policy in 2019, from President Trump's emergency declaration over border wall funding to the implementation of  its Migrant Protection Protocols. TPR’s Reynaldo Leaños Jr. focused on how these policies impacted people living along the border as well as those passing through.

Click here to view supplementary documents about "The Reality at the Border" and the impact of this reporting.

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 focused on the Trump administration's proposed border wall expansion in the Rio Grande Valley and how residents will be impacted. We featured people with views on both sides of the issue, including a woman who had a wall built through her backyard 10 years ago. Our main source in the story went on to become 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.

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

TPR's Reynaldo Leaños  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. This story kicked off continuing coverage of the surge of migrants crossing the border and how aid workers struggled to handle the Trump administration's mass release of those migrants. The story also covered the Trump administration's changes to asylum, making domestic abuse and gang violence no longer a reason to claim asylum. The story originally aired on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday.

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, which just became the top U.S. trade hub, is dealing with the economic consequences of the Trump administration's rhetoric towards Mexico. The story highlights the interconnectivity of business on both sides of the border and how President Trump's rhetoric and actions affect business at the border. One of our main sources for this story was Gerry Schwebel of IBC Bank, who worked on NAFTA and the new USMCA. This radio story and video were picked up nationally by NPR.

Credit Verónica G. Cárdenas for Texas Public Radio

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

TPR's Reynaldo Leaños 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 highlights the humanitarian efforts on the part of Border Patrol agents and also how the Trump administration's policy to process less migrants at ports of entry hpushed more migrants to make the dangerous journey across the river and turn themselves into Border Patrol. This radio story and video was picked up nationally by NPR.

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

Credit Verónica G. Cárdenas for Texas Public Radio

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 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. This story explored how the Trump administration's metering policy has also pushed more migrants to make the dangerous journey across the Rio Grande and we talked to people who met the family hours before their death. This story and video were picked up nationally by NPR.


‘Kill Me Here Because I Can’t Return To My Country’: Migrants Face Legal Limbo As Asylum Laws Change | July 19, 2019 

This story talks about the expansion of the Trump Administration's Migrant Protection Protocols to Laredo, requiring migrants to wait in Mexico for their day in U.S. immigration court. TPR's Reynaldo Leaños Jr. spoke to migrants waiting just across the Rio Grande in Nuevo Laredo, which the US State Department advises Americans not to travel to and considers one of the most dangerous regions in the world because murder, carjackings, extortion and sexual assault are so common.. This story was picked up nationally by NPR.

The Struggle of A Pregnant Asylum Seeker On The U.S.-Mexico Border| September 30, 2019

This story looks at how Migrant Protection Protocols expanded into the Rio Grande Valley. Vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, were supposed to be protected under MPP but TPR found they were being denied entry into the US and continue to be placed in the MPP program. TPR's Reynaldo Leaños Jr. followed one pregnant woman on her journey to asylum. This story was picked up nationally by NPR.

Mexican Official Tries To Move Asylum-Seekers Stuck In Tent Camp November 9, 2019

This story highlights the growing tent encampment of migrants in Matamoros, which has reached more than 2,000 people waiting for their day in court under the Trump administration's Migrant Protection Protocols. TPR found that Mexican officials were mimicking the Trump Administration's policy that separated children from their families in order to clear the encampment. This story was picked up nationally by NPR.


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.
Reynaldo Leaños Jr. can be reached at reynaldo@tpr.org and on Twitter at @ReynaldoLeanos