Immigration reform is one of the most polarizing subjects in America today. Many Americans assume that it is only gateway states, bordering Mexico and Canada, where immigration issues are of critical concern. Missouri, in the heartland of America, is a state with no international borders that may seem far removed from the rancor of the immigration debate. Yet the same tensions, anger and political polarization develop there as in the border states. In Homeland: Immigration in America, a three-hour documentary series, Missouri becomes a metaphor for all of America, emblematic of the complicated immigration debate and the changing narrative of what it means to be and become American.
Each of the three Homeland episodes revolves around core themes focusing both on the fine line separating success and failure for immigrants and refugees in America, and the fierce debate about whether legal and illegal immigrants and refugees threaten the American way of life.
Homeland illuminates a new chapter in American history. The series offers viewers personal insights into America’s immigrant experience as a guide in exploring one of the most important public policy debates of our time. The series serves as a vehicle to explore just how much we as a country and a community value assimilation and inclusion, the extent to which we are bound by language, and ultimately, whether we as a nation are still a beacon for immigrants.
Homeland is a documentary series that demonstrates one of America’s most dividing issues of today. Produced by the Nine Network of Public Media in St. Louis, and narrated by Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for the NewsHour, the series explores the leading immigration concerns in America. Homeland presents the contemporary stories of immigrants (and refugees), of those who encounter and interact with immigrants, and of policy experts whose agendas affect the lives of immigrants. Through these stories, immigration emerges as more than just a political issue, but a long-term cultural and economical concern that has an ongoing effect on individuals, families, and communities across America. The series is broken into three hour-long segments, each exploring a different facet of the immigration narrative.
This episode of Homeland elaborates on immigration laws and programs as they relate to the economy. Small towns, big cities, farms, factories, and research laboratories are placed under a lens. Are immigrants helping the economy grow, or setting us back? In the midst of an economic crisis, what must immigration laws focus on: keeping undocumented immigrants out, or welcoming the world’s best and brightest, and dependable workers into our country?
Attitudes about immigration enforcement have been rapidly changing, with the stricter reform passed in Arizona, and the Obama administration’s recent policy change granting worker visas to young migrants, there is much debate about how to police a complex national policy in close communities. Homeland’s episode “Enforcement” illustrates the lengthy process of attaining citizenship legally, the inconsistencies in the legal system, and policemen who have to choose between enforcing the law and building trust with documented and undocumented immigrants in integrated communities.
Often battling physical and mental scars, tackling a language barrier, and lacking marketable skills, refugees are faced with the challenge of integration into American culture. America admits more refugees than any other country, but the resettlement process is complicated and difficult. Homeland tells the stories of refugees from all around the world. This episode shows the resettlement programs that work, and where they are inadequate in assisting refugees in adjusting to their new lives. The communities in which they resettle can come with a host of their own issues – poverty and crime – often determining the outcome of their transition. These factors play a critical role in whether refugees will find stability and success, or poverty and isolation in America.
Cast & Crew
Meet the cast and crew of the national PBS documentary, Homeland: Immigration in America.
Leo Eaton | Executive Producer
Leo Eaton is a British-born independent filmmaker who’s been writing, producing, directing and executive producing TV factual series and specials for U.S. and overseas broadcasters for more than 30 years. He has run Eaton Creative, Inc since 1997. Recent work includes series producer of the 12-hour PBS series America at a Crossroads; producer/director for PBS performance specials Natalie MacMasters, Home to Cape Breton and Tango, the Spirit of Argentina and Series Producer of the 13-part docu-reality series Cowboy 101 for the Outdoor Life Network (OLN). Previously he was executive producer on Michael Wood’s BBC/PBS series The Life & Times of William Shakespeare and series producer/director for In Search of Ancient Ireland for PBS & RTE (Ireland).
Eaton has taught film production & scriptwriting at the University of Texas (Austin) and still conducts occasional workshops in television production and international co-production around the US. Prior to settling in America, Eaton lived for several years in Greece, Portugal and Mexico. With a special focus on co-production, Eaton has developed more than twenty successful partnerships with broadcasters from around the world, especially in Europe & S.E. Asia.
John Lindsay | Executive Producer
John Lindsay has produced or co-produced nearly 300 hours of national primetime public television programming. He and his colleagues share 62 of the industry’s most prestigious awards, including seven national Emmys, three George Foster Peabody awards and two duPont-Columbia awards. As KCTS 9’s Vice President of Content, he oversees the creation of original programming on air, online and in the community.
John is currently Vice President of Content at KCTS 9 in Seattle. Previously, John was Vice President for National and International Productions at KETC in St. Louis. He also spent 14 years at Oregon Public Broadcasting as Senior Vice President/Director of National Productions. At OPB, he led the effort to produce the first external documentary ever commissioned by CNN, secured HBO’s first documentary commission to a public television station and produced an ongoing series for TLC. He also organized the first ever co-production between FRONTLINE and ABC’s Nightline.
John’s career also includes production roles at Chicago’s Towers Productions and Carlton Productions in Princeton, New Jersey. Earlier in his career, he was a senior producer for the investigative reporting unit at WCCO/Minneapolis.
Jim Kirchherr | Producer and Writer
Jim Kirchherr is an award-winning journalist and producer. For 20 years, Jim Kirchherr has been at Nine Network exploring the issues, the history and the stories that define St. Louis as a community.
His documentaries have included the nine-part Decades history series, Under St. Louis, a biography of war hero Butch O’Hare, and Made in USA: The East St. Louis Story. His work has been recognized with 15 Mid-America Emmy awards. He served as producer/correspondent for the Wisconsin Collaborative series of national productions. Before coming to KETC, Jim was a senior news editor for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, Germany, and was a producer and reporter at KTVI in St. Louis. He was a William Benton Fellow in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Chicago.
Anne-Marie Berger | Producer
Anne-Marie Berger has been with Nine Network’s production department since 2000 and has been involved with various projects and productions, including Living St. Louis, Your Stories: St. Louis Remembers World War II, Donnybrook, and the documentary Start to Finish: Running the St. Louis Marathon.
Anne-Marie began her career at WYES-TV, a PBS affiliate station in New Orleans and, since coming to Nine Network, she has received six Mid-America Emmy Awards and a Salute to Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.
Anne-Marie earned her bachelors degree in broadcast production from Loyola University of New Orleans and her Masters in Media Communication from Webster University. She currently serves as adjunct faculty at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley and the Awards Chair for the Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Frank Popper | Editor
Frank Popper is a former high school English teacher who accidentally discovered the wonders of photography. He decided to leave teaching and become a photographer and Over the course of several years, photography morphed into multimedia, and finally, filmmaking.
Popper produced The Lounge People, a feature film starring Buck Henry, Christine Ebersole, Amanda Plummer and B.D. Wong, which aired on Starz. He was principal videographer of EROICA!, a documentary that aired on Independent Lens about the Eroica Trio’s collaboration with a classical music composer. Popper’s first feature-length documentary, Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? won the 2006 audience choice award at the Silverdocs film festival and aired on the award-winning PBS series Independent Lens.
Randy Mason | Segment Producer
During Randy’s 27 year tenure at KCPT, he’s served as a reporter, producer, writer and host for “Kansas City Illustrated,” “KCPT Marquee,” and “The Local Show,” and produced documentaries with writer C.W. Gusewelle, including “This Place Called Home” and “Water & Fire: A Story of the Ozarks.”
In 2000, he produced the area’s first long-form HD series–a five-part history of the arts called “Uniquely Kansas City.” In 2002, Randy received a regional Emmy for “Tapping Kansas City,” a history of local beer making. He recently completed “Putting Down Roots,” a documentary about sculptor Roxy Paine, and “Homecoming: The Kansas City Symphony Presents Joyce DiDonato” for the PBS Arts Summer Festival.
As co-producer with Michael Murphy of the offbeat art and travel series “Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations,” he’s been recognized with ten regional Emmy Awards. In 2004, Mason and Murphy received a National Emmy for their work on the documentary “Be Good, Smile Pretty,” a co-production of KCPT and the Orphans of War Foundation.
Randy currently serves as Executive Producer of Cultural Affairs at KCPT in Kansas City.
How did we produce a documentary about a multidimensional topic like immigration? Go behind the scenes and discuss filming locations, subjects interviewed, and obstacles they overcame to better understand immigration in America.