Live Chat with Luis Alberto Urrea and Border Patrol Agent Paul Wells

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In this web-exclusive video, author Luis Alberto Urrea recalls a conversation he had with a border patrol agent that marked a turning point in his perception of border agents that has stuck with him ever since.

Acclaimed writer Luis Alberto Urrea and retired border patrol agent Paul Wells joined us for a live chat on Tuesday, May 8. They talked about the dreams of immigrants, the troubling escalating vitriol in the immigration debate and their impressions of life on the border.

Urrea, a bestselling author of 14 books, was born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and Anglo mother. His work draws from his life experiences living and working on both sides of the border. Urrea’s nonfiction book The Devil’s Highway, published in 2004, is a powerful account of the “Yuma 14” — the 14 migrants who died in the Arizona desert while crossing the border in May of 2001. The book was praised for its thorough research and detail, and was a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Paul Wells retired in 2010 after 30 years as a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. Beginning in 1980, he served as a patrol agent for 15 years, and as a first and second line supervisor for the next 15. He witnessed an expansion of the Border Patrol from about 2,000 agents nationwide in 1980 to 20,000 in 2010 along with dramatic improvements in technology. Today, he lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico with his wife.

Luis Urrea first met Paul Wells while researching an article for Playboy magazine in 2009. They have been friends ever since, although — as Wells describes it — they “don’t always see eye to eye on immigration issues.”

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  • SarahS

    Please archive the live conversation for those of us unable to listen in the middle of the day! What a beautiful, moving, compassionate interview. If only everyone in America could have listened!

  • Amanda Clark

    After watching this interview, I was struck by how much in common the people in the dump in Tijauna have with the people in Mumbai in Katherine Boo’s wonderful “Behind the Beautiful Forevers.” How wonderful it would be if we could recognize each other as full human beings, filled most of all with hope.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marilynn.lowder Marilynn Lowder

    I live less than 20 miles from the U.S./Mexico border in Tubac, AZ.  There is a holding area on the border that is filled with hundreds of men, women and many children, some without parents with them.  Many of them have lived in the U.S. almost all their lives, know nothing about Mexico and don’t even speak Spanish.  The U. S. government has held some for years now and don’t know what to do with them   This desparately need dealing with.  It is rediculous to incarcerate these people.  Congress must cooperate with Obama on passing the “Dream Bill”, that will allow an undocumented person to be able to become a citizen, especially when they came here as a child, is educated and has served in the military.

  • Corrine Bayley

    Thanks, Bill, for introducing me to Luis Urrea, a man with a deep soul and generous spirit who is also, thank God, a gifted writer and speaker . In our toxic climate of fear of the “other”, he demonstrates the peace and understanding that can come from getting to know those we perceive as “different”.  He gives me hope. 

  • davidp

    Thank you for this excellent interview.  It reminded me  of   my migration studies of foreigners and non English speaking who came to these shores over 100 yrs ago and they faced the same attitudes from the locals.  The name-calling and the local hostility and a feeling of being a non-person in so many ways.  What was more shocking was how these rich Eastern elites and their corporate fellows down the ladder lorded it over them even on the job.  

  • Sradelnorte

    Sr. Urrea, when I saw the photograph of your mother and father, I couldn’t help but smile at it.  My husband is Indigenous Mexican from Hidalgo.  I am an English-American from Idaho.  With the birth of each of our beautiful daughters, we prayed that they would be fundamentally bridge builders between these two countries.  I know now that it will be hard for them because 1/2 of them is gone — Papa was deported on October 23, 2008.  I tried to live in Mexico.  I was a Mexican housewife for two years.  But I couldn’t watch my children be sick and go hungry (which they were).  I came back to give them education and health care. I pray that some day my loving, hard working, extremely faithful husband will be allowed to come home to us.  You renew in me my belief that my little Anglo-Mexicanas can build those bridges just by being.  Just as you have.  Thank you.

  • Janine

    Very interesting conversation; especially enlightening to see how his mother’s own prejudice must have influenced his life. As a legal immigrant, I am so often surprised at our belief that somehow America should be a country with open borders. I really don’t know of another country in this world that is expected to do so. Also, why aren’t we fighting as ardently to reform those countries whose people must leave for economic and educational advantages? Why should these poor people have to leave their homes at all (as I did)? Why should we have to come to America? If Americans fought as hard to help us reform our home countries, perhaps we’d ALL be better off.

  • Travelintom

    Born an raised in San Antonio to the border culture, I am depressed and ashamed to now be an Arizona resident.  I cannot understand how many of my neighbors cannot recognize the racism of their political positions.  We need to build bridges, not walls.

  • mariner

    Sr. Urrea, What do you see for the future of the states on both sides of the Mexican-US border?  In the best of all possible worlds, what future do you imagine for these peoples threatened narco-terrorism, their own prejudices and their own loyalties?  

  • Linda Gonzalez-Montgomery

    Thank you/Gracias Sr. Urrea for being such a wonderful writer,speaker and role-model
    As a 2 nd generation Mexican-American I feel the connection to land of my grandparents and struggle to understand -will Mexico every change?I never want to give up hope and faith for without them we perish.My familia taught me that and the struggles they endured were not in vain.
    My husband and I have the blessing of helping at a women’s shelter in Mexico, we see the difference the moment with cross the border. So close but such a different worldKeep writing and speaking, help us to understand and find ways that we can build bridges of love,faith and hope.Dios te bendiga,Linda 

  • Info2

    Weekday – middle of the day – not for people who have regular jobs, I guess…

  • Info2

    I mean the chat.  Super program tonight, though.

  • Fatousaidy29

    just got finish listening to the show, what a impressive and interesting story. i just want to thank you for aknowledging my awareness about how big our world is  and yet can be small in a piece of paper by a writer, bringing out  the aspect of our human man nature to our awareness. the story enlightened me in my conciusness and also relate me to the story. i am a forigner that became an american and i share two culture as well. also want to billy and the pbs station for bringing all wounderfull, educated anteresting on the show.

  • Valrfederoff

    Luis, I substitute teach in an interesting community. The Orthodox Jewish students and the white and more affluent white and African American students attend private conservative schools. I teach in the public schools where the majority of students are Mexican immigrants. Funding is taken away more each year. Many of their parents and grandparents speak only Spanish. The ESL program has been taken away. Our goal to teach these students, as with all students, to attain success is more difficult all the time.
    Compounding that is my own percieved lack of success finding work to enable me to pay school loans. How can I tell students that if they work and study hard they will get good jobs? I am taking writing classes I can pay for out of pocket and attempting to start a freelance commercial writing business now so I have time to write stories that will touch people’s hearts and move them to action. I am reading with a writer’s eye now and look forward to reading and studying your work after your appearance on Bill Moyers.com.

  • Shepherd2121

    I would be interested in more details of your parents relationship.  Where and how did they meet?
    Are they still together?  What do each of them think about your work and your present status as a Professor.

  • Phall

    What a moving pleasure…your wonderful commentaries and anecdotes on Bill Moyer’sshow!
    I will retire in June after teaching Spanish for nearly 40 years.  Of course, I have a great love of the language, but also a deep fondness for the peoples who speak it and their culture.  I wonder if you have any suggestion for me for filling the void I will undoubtedly feel when I retire.  I live in Buffalo, N. Y., and have no plans to relocate.  Mil gracias. 

  • Sandra

    Thanks to you both for your inspirational work.

    In the interview with Bill Moyers you
    stated that in your darkest hours you’re starting to feel that it’s hopeless even though you know it’s not. When you see kids who feel like there’s no
    place for them, you feel like the world is being taken over by villains from
    Dickens.  My question to you is “what do
    you say to the new age of spiritual thinkers and promoters like  Dr. Deepak Chopra and
    Professor Irwin Laszlo who believe the people of the world on the verge of a
    new spiritual awakening and realization that we are all one.  They feel the world is on the precipice of not
    a small change but a worldwide shift in consciousness.”

  • Freddietaborda

    We hope, as Latino parents, that our children will live in a more humane and tolerant society. The scars in the heart and the wounds in the spirit related to racism and xenophobia are so invisible that a poem, a short story or a novel is necessary to bring visibility to the suffering spirit of our Latino ancestors.
    My father passed away more than a decade ago, and, during his retirement speech he said publicly:” After I graduated from the university, un Mister (name given to USA citizens that visit some Latino countries) said to me before I was asked to sit on the metal back of the truck while he sat on the leather sit in the front, ‘You will never amount to anything with that (brown) color of your skin.”
    He did not cry when he told the story to the audience; however I cry every-time when I tell this story because it has been one of those invisible wounds that parents pass on to the next generation unconsciously.
    My question is: if you would like to give to your son the gift of five books that deal with the issue of the heart wrenching and painful immigration and racial experience in USA, which books will you suggest ?

  • Tom Boushel

    Dear Luis,
    Your interview with Mr. Moyers  is one of the most moving conversations that I’ve ever heard. It is in the same class as the talks that I’ve heard from the Dalai Lama, Gandhi and Martin Luther King. You create an new paradigm by changing our view of the situation. Keep on, keeping on! You change hearts one at a time. But, change hearts you do!
    I now fully recognize the propaganda the we are bombarded with every day. I have seen the enemy and it is us. Thank you for telling your stories.

    Tom Boushel, Montreal, Canada

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001858348607 Bobette Laycock

    A magnificent addition to my Sunday morning.  Not only was your interview spiritually satisfying, it gave such insight into the border issues faced daily in Arizona and throughout the Southwest.  I’ve lived in Tucson for almost two decades, was born and raised in Missouri, and attended Truman while it was still Northeast Missouri State College.  Therefore, your story about sharing barbeque with Colonel Limbaugh was an additional bonus.  While I find Rush Limbaugh to be an embarrassment to my home state, there may be hope for him.   

  • Granny02

    It’s about time that people of Arizona, as the imperfect Mayor,  don’t understand the Mexicans occupied the land that Arizona sits on, and was stolen just like New Mexico by military force.
    The illlegals are the Europeans who invaded. The Tea Party is pushing us back 80 years. Most all of their tactics are from the pages of the chancellor in Germany-1933-1945.

  • JonThomas

    I enjoyed the interview very much. I think it’s tough for people on either side of an issue as entrenched as immigration to understand or accept the point of view of their ideological adversaries. A person such as Mr. Urrea who has one foot in both worlds can sometimes help to cl0se the distance between the two sides.

    In another interview posted on M & C…

    “Jose Antonio Vargas on Coming Out as an Undocumented Immigrant”

    May 4, 2012

    by

    Lauren FeeneyThe Dream Act was discussed. From my limited understanding, that act deals mostly with people already living here illegally. Mr. Urrea, as someone with a bit of insight into the immigration situation, and perhaps seeing the legitimate concerns of people on both sides of the issue, what do you see as possible solutions to, and the direction in which, our over-all immigration policy should take?  Not just how we as a nation handle those already living and working here, but our entire policy. What we have today doesn’t seem to work. If it were up to you, what would our policy look like in 10 years, and ideally, well into the future?Do we continue on as things are? Should we deal with immigration from Mexico differently from how we deal with immigration from Canada, Cuba, or any other country?Are there steps that Mexico and other countries can take to help the problem… especially nations which seem to attract media attention and public ire, such as immigration from Mexico, Central, and South America?Other than watching an increase in prices for fruits and vegetables grown in this country, which might be needed to get Americans to be willing to do such labor, do you envision some sort of guest visa program that could work in the post-911 environment, keeping in mind the concern of “easy entrance” (please excuse that phrasing, as there seems little “easy” about it)?

     

  • Reba

    Loved it!  Thank you Moyers and Urrea!    Luis, spoke of the necessity of HOPE in the lives of people as being the elixer that carries us forward in seemingless dire, or “less than” situations yet in our own culture’s pschye, we seem to be in our own Tijuana Dump about immigration issues, and even Luis spoke of feeling hopeless about  where we are at with it.  I HOPE we can keep HOPE alive…as we continue to think and act on and speak about these issues.  Luis, you do give us hope, keep the hope alive.  Can you speak of finding some Common Ground that unifies our diversified human song and dance and evolution.  

  • Kgillette64

    Your episode was moving and enlightening; brought me to tears. Keep up the good work!

  • Thebronx

    I found the program dealing with Mr. Urrea’s book “Devil’s Highway” to be profoundly moving.  I can’t imagine anyone not being saddened to be reminded of the tremendous inequalities that exist on either side of the Mexican/American border.

  • Tom

    Nice slant to John Does. Does not the country of Mexico have some responsibility for their citizen? And how about the citizens in the border states? What about their issues? Anyone is welcome in America – just obey the laws and come legally

  • Wil

    The plight of the Mexican poor is truly a tragedy, and there is much discussion about America’s indifference to their condition.  There is very little said, however, about the conditions in Mexico that drive these poor to leave their homeland.  What is the Mexican government doing to alleviate the poverty that exists there?  And, what is the author Luis Urrea doing to help change these conditions that was the land of his own father?  

  • David Wright

    This is one of the best and informative programs you have done.  I plan to read all of Luis Alberto Urrea’s books.  Thanks for introducting him to us.   David Wright, Denver.

  • joAnn

    Dear Luis and Bill, 
    Thank you. Would that I could sit the country down for an hour of patriot TV viewing to watch this program. 
    Luis, your story of going to Tijuana for chicken…brought me to tears. I am 48. I was 6 the first time I went to Tijuana with my mother (we, newly moved to Ca. from Chicago) and grandmother (her mother, out for a visit). We were going to “this great place to go shopping”. That’s all I knew.  I had the first of what would be three life shaping experiences there in TIjuana. Being only six, hand held, pulled along the street, I came eye to eye with a woman exactly, EXACTLY, as you describe, sitting there, on the street …..and…. it set off a panic in me. A panic of thoughts spinning and spinning me. I could not understand what was happening. I could not understand how everyone was walking around, talking, moving along and this woman needed help. She was so shriveled, drawn, weathered with an infant at her breast, her hand held out, she said something looking me. I can see her as if she were right here, right now. She had a baby for God’s sake.  I could not understand what was happening. I could not understand that all these people were around and  clearly could see her…I could not understand how my mother and grandmother, whom I adored more than any one or thing in my life, were just charging on talking about shopping and pulling me along. They didn’t stop. No one stopped. No one did anything. I said something but wasn’t paid attention to and was dragged along a little more forcefully now. Then we were in a shop. All this stuff. People acting like everything was fine and normal. And we bought a marble (?) chess set and…. stuff. And for years growing up , I hated that chess set. I always stayed away from it and decided chess was stupid and not for me. I thought it was so…..Ugly. That moment in Tijuana has never faded.

  • Lorenzo

    As a Tucson resident your program with Urrea is informative, challenging, and insightful. I appreciate the larger view and act locally by feeding the hungry and homeless at Casa Maria, joining Big Brothers, and supporting Occupy Tucson.  The medium is the message and you use it to its fullest potential.

  • Fernando Esteban Flores

    As I was watching and listening to Luis read his excerpt from The Devil’s Highway, I scrambled to my bookshelf to find my copy of the book.  I found the book and it slipped from my hands landing open on the very page (p. 32) that he was reading from.  What timing!  It reads as a litany and a eulogy to their existence.  I took a class that Luis taught back in the 90′s as part of the San Antonio Inter-Cultural  Literary Book Fair in conjunction with the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.  He is as inspiring now as he was then.  And part of the reason that I continue to write.
    Fernando Esteban FloresSan Antonio, Texasteacher/poet

  • Maggie

    As my DVR was recording Moyers and Urrea tonight, my grandson, visiting with his parents, shared that he needed to read a non-fiction book for his English class that would offer the class an important issue worthy of discussion. I was thrilled that he showed interest in The Devil’s Highway and promptly pulled it off the shelf for him to take with him.  Then I sat down to watch your brilliant discussion of life on the border. Arizona is my winter home and as an activist with Samaritans, I am all too familiar with the racist actions being taken toward Hispanics, be they the eager students in TUSD or undocumented migrants who risk their lives to come to clean our toilets and pick our fruit. 

    Thank you Bill for this program.  And thank you, Luis, for your brilliant writing.  Just finished Queen of America . . . loved it!!!!

  • david

    is mr urrea suggesting we shouldnt have immigration laws?
    not have a nation state?
    who did these menial jobs before illegal immigrants started getting them with false documents?
    and we wonder why wages arent rising?

  • DAVID MYERS

    What I REALLY don’t get, with all the Thomas Jefferson’s, Dostoevsky’s, Gore Vidal’s, and billions of well-meaning people in the world, besides the few towering geniuses, who light the way, is WHY the world seemingly HAS TO BE this way when everyone knows ddep down it doesn’t, and that thinking it has to be tis way because it always has been is BACKWARDS reasoning.  At WHAT point, fellas, is all your talk POINTLESS?  A 3rd Grader asked me on 6/05/06 if I’d heard that the world was going to end when the 6′s were lined up.  I told him I hadn’t, but if he thought about it, the world DOES come to an end every time a child like him dies needlessly, if only for that child, and the only reason the rest of us don’t se it is that we’re stuck in our own little worlds.  Do you know that there are 40,000 associations in Gale’s Encyclopedia of them, each with their own pet rock to sell?  What the hell are the people Occupying Wall Streets everywhere waiting for?  HOW hellish do things have to GET?  MUST WE bring the 30,000 children who STARVE TO DEATH EVERY DAY here and line them up down 5th Avenue, for everyone to see … and walk past on their way to lunch? 

  • J A Voos

    First of all, I am offended at your criticism of Christian’s in your show.  I am so tired of hearing this, those like myself who try to live our lives like christ certainly understand who he did seek out in society, and we try to do the same.  It is on our radar, and we understand this, if we focus on the bible at all! 

    Second, I will be reading your book shortly, but it doesn’t reflect what I hear from 2nd generation Latino’s.  Like you, my wife was born in Tijuana, and now she lives in California, educated in America, the only one to graduate from college and then law school.  Her cousins are upset by the decline in public schools with ESL as a major burden, hindering those who have learned English.  They are 100% Mexican ethnically, but think our border situation is out of control, just like those whites in Arizona.  We can sympathize and help with struggle, but we cannot pretend that many problems are coming along with the immigration issue. Lots of people not interested in learning english, even though it would be to their benefit.  Lack of focus on education in the mexican american community, unwed teenage mothers & fathers (my wife’s nephews and nieces are creating new generations of these, at younger ages). Maybe this is isolated to our inlaws, but I don’t think so.

    What is important is that all our experiences and viewpoints our shared, as you mentioned, create a bridge, and recognize that we can simultaneously have sympathy for others plight as immigrants that most of us share in our own history(My German family fled Europe with nothing as well 100 years ago).  But we can’t ignore the problems that we face and need to come up with real solutions.  Having ethnic pride alone doesn’t solve the societal issues we face.

    By the way, I was teased in 5th grade as well for having a German name.  My uncle was beat-up in school frequently during WWII for having the German name Henkle, even though his father was a Captain in the US Navy.  This is part of the shared immigrant experience, and not unique to Mexicans at all.

    I have to work toward a better future for my family with a 7 year old Mexican-German-Irish American daughter.   We need to find solutions in Mexico for the corruption and Crime and economic desperation.  Leadership is lacking in both countries.

    Don’t put all critics in a box, just because they differ in opinions.  This is the same sensorship as the book removal in the classes in Arizona.

    Hope to catch the live chat later.

  • Anonymous

    Mexico is a beautiful and rich nation, why did not Mr. Moyer ask his guest the reason(s) why this beautiful and rich country can not take care of her people in Mexico, so that they do not have to leave Mexico? Why  was not this very important question asked?

  • Frank Black

     mr urrea, thank you for you being the person you are because so many of us do not take the time to understand people “other than our selves and twins”. I too was one of those people who lived in a bubble. I corrected that as the years went by. I too was a mititary person as your dad. Those years living with many people of different backgrounds change my way of live forever. One day just before my ship was going overseas I overheard two new shipmates talking about liberty before the ships leave for six months overseas. One said he can’t because he was short on cash. I went up to him and said I can lend you twenty dollars and he said why would you lend me money, we have never met. I said that you are a shipmate and I have duty today so at least one of us can go have a fun day before the ship leaves. Lagunas and me became good friends and best buddies and that  the way all of us should behave. His mom and dad sent me all jalapenos all the time and I am so grateful for that day. Lets hope that day will come for all of us. Frank Black 

  • Jufe

    These menial jobs were done by other immigrants (Chinese, Italian, Irish, Polish, etc.), slaves, natives and indentured servants.

    The dirty work of this country has been handed to poor newcomers since the very beginning as has blame for problems they have nothing to do with.

  • Sonsofaztlan

    Mr Urrea I can honestly  say that i’ve never heard of you before until today. I must of been hiding under a rock. The frankness in which you answered the questions and your even temperedness in dealing with such a hot button topic, gave me hope. I usually fly off  the handle when I talk about immigration or culture,so much so, that I try to avoid the topic altogether. I thank you for being a voice for the voiceless and for having the courage  to speak for the undocumented. I look forward to reading your books. My question to you is,would closing the border completely, benefit second generation latinos? could this closing cause our culture(chicano,pocho whatever you want to call us) to flourish and grow here in the United  States? Would my son benefit from not hearing such distasteful language about latinos in the media? Would he,unlike me, grow up without  anger and hate towards the segment of society that voices these feelings towards us?

  • John T

    I noticed the name of your column in orion magazine – the wastelander. Is it called that b/c you write about places like the ones you discussed w/ Moyers?

  • Theresa Mack

    Thanks so much for writing “The Devil’s Highway”.  I just ordered it today.  I wanted to ask you how you felt about the law passed in Frederick County, MD where all immigrants must speak English.  I hope to get my ESL certification this summer but I am not comfortable with forcing the English language on non-native speakers.  What do you think about this?

  • Jrfforme123

    how was it possible for Mexico to sell the Aztlan states to the U.S.  weren`t there any landowners in aztlan and wasn`t the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo broken within months of the signing. the ordeals of Reyes Tijerina come to mind. will you talk to this subject.

  • Jekupnorth

    Having seen the author’s hour long interview, I am drawn to Luis Urrea’s insight and poignancy.

  • Jekupnorth

    My question is: How does AZ’s sherriff ’s practices help Arizona?

  • Charles Redner

    Is there anything I can do to help get the books unboxed?

  • Tony, El Librotraficante

    I can’t believe that more Americans don’t know that Arizona House Bill 2281 was created to prohibit courses in schools. That is as un-American as it gets. That is censorship. That violates the First Amendment. Thank you Bill Moyers for taking on the topic. Thank you Luis for championing the cuase. Only Art can Save us. If you want to get involved visit: http://www.saveethnicstudies.org. If you want to become a Librotraficante and traffik mind-altering prose visit http://www.librotraficante.com. If you want to change the world, crack open one of the banned books. Tony, El Librotraficante.

  • Islanista

    First off, I loved this talk.  As a resident of Bisbee, AZ, I see the border every day when I look out out my window.  Mr Urrea’s take on the circumstances of border migrants is 100% spot on.  I would like to know his take on the role of large defense contractors, building a trillion dollar industy out of fighting $2/hour laborers.  WIthout the boogeyman of the migrant, there would be no $8 Billion Boeing ‘virtual fence’, no $25 Million Wackenhut ‘bus to nowhere’ program, no $40 Million USBP station built in my backyard.  The list goes on and on, but the central fact remains.. that many people make LOTS of money off of the migrant.
    To the point of the ‘bus to nowhere’ program, I would also like to hear Mr Urrea’s ideas about how he reconciles the USBP’s program with his take that they are not a…. for lack of a better word… mean… organization.  There is nothing more to be gained from that program than to simply be mean…
    There are so many points.. these are but a few… the connection of 1070 and the private prisons run by friends of the governor.. and much.. much… much more…
    This is my world.. this is my life.. and I am glad to see Mr Urrea telling it like it really is… thank you.

  • Kim

    Can http://www.kiva.org be promoted to them?  Many thanks for a great interview &
    getting the word out there!

  • Rob L.

    I feel like art is most effective when people are receptive, what do you do when there is no reception for it? Can art overcome this barrier or does the work needs to be done regardless of type of reception?

  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.coleman.56 Linda Coleman

    I agree with Tony that we need to get those books unboxed and into the classrooms.  I’m ready to help any way I can.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cpstout Christopher Paul Stout

    In 2010, I was a candidate for the U.S. Senate here in Utah. Immigration was a big issue with the conservatives — although I am a moderate Democrat. Here is what I see needs to happen and would appreciate your comments:

    I support comprehensive immigration reform that
    addresses national security, economic security and human rights.

    (1) Secure all borders — seaports, airports around the world, and both our
    northern and southern border. We need to reduce the ability of those committed
    to carrying out acts of terrorism against the U.S. We need to reduce the
    ability of those who enter the U.S to distribute drugs, obtain weapons and
    operate crime syndicates.

    (2) Eliminate caps on unskilled worker visas. Allow businesses to hire
    immigrants but only when citizens are unwilling or unavailable to fill those
    positions.

    (3) Require all persons here illegally to register with the IRS, reconcile
    their tax bills, and pay a fine for being here illegally, and obtain a visa to
    work here legally. This is not amnesty nor is it a guaranteed path to
    citizenship.

    (4) Prosecute businesses who continue to hire workers without visas.

    (5) There are hundreds of thousands whose parents brought them to the United
    States as children. The U.S. is the only home they have ever known. We must
    give them them a process in which to resolve their status with dignity. We must
    streamline the naturalization process so that these cases can be resolved
    quickly and in the best interest of the family.

    (6) Deport those living and working in the U.S. illegally.

  • David Daniel

    “Hold The Line” in the 80′s changed the tacics of the USBP and cahnged the patterns of migration of the workers.  I would like to hear Wells’ ideas about how the ‘hard line’ at the border – in both directions – kept migrants north, rather than their typical seasonal migration.  This created the permenant communities on the north side, rather than moving back as usual.  Did we create more problems than we solved with that program?

  • Marilyn Carpenter

    Your remarks in the interview with Moyers reminded me of an incident that happened in my East L.A. 5th grade classroom in the 80′s.   It was my practice to bring articles to class from the L.A. Times.  One day I brought an article about illegal immigrants crossing a beach between Mexico and the US, near San Diego.  The article told how the people were robbed, raped and beaten by gangs who victimized them.  As I read the article aloud, my students starting talking about members of their families who had suffered from similar crimes.  That experience got the students talking and writing about how they and/or their parents had crossed into the the US.  They later performed their pieces in a moving oral history.  They had passed a terrible entrance exam.  I like to think they were heroes.  

  • rosemary

    Aloha Mr. Urrea… I loved your conversation with Bill.

  • rosemary

    What are your thoughts on the DREAM ACT, specifically as discussed on ‘Up’ with Chris Hayes on MSNBC and in view of Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s position  with regard to it? What is the best way (in your opinion) to approach a conversation on the DREAM ACT with those who appear to harbor a black/while view on the “illegal issue” (quotes deliberate)

  • Martha

    Luis says that America was in the kitchen (meaning his mother) and the living room was Mexican (for his father).  (1) How did they meet? (2) Did they stayed married (for life?)

  • Isabel

    Returning home last night after 5 glorious days in Mexico City, I was thrilled to have stumbled upon  Mr. Moyers’ interview of Mr. Urrea.   I am fascinated by the subjects they discussed and have ordered some copies of Mr. Urrea’s works.  As a conservative, I was particularly impressed with his seeming realizations of what might be his own prejudices.  I suspect that his writing will be even better than his wonderful story-telling.  Thank you!

  • gringo

    I agree that closing the border must be our first priority. I also believe we need legislation which prohibits circumvention of the law by our elected leaders. Oaths of office and federal statutes do not seem to be binding to the present administration, and the substitution of policy for law by the executive branch goes uncontested by our legislators. 

  • Ernie_dog12

    By chance, I turned on public television at the beginning of the show with Mr. Urrea, and everything  that seemed important in that day, in my life–walking the dog, fixing dinner, reading the mail–hung in abeyance until the show finished. I have  read the “Devil’s Highway,” and was most impressed by its even handed telling of a powerful story.  I am even more impressed now having seen this interview with its author. 

    It is rare indeed to find writers who primary focus is the truth and secondary focus is their own political agenda.  Mr. Urrea is one of them. We certainly need more.

  • JJ from Maine

    I wanted to ask (1) whether there has been any attempt to turn Mr. Urrea’s books into films as that is a very powerful medium that has the potential to much more quickly reach a broad audience; (2) are there films that seem to accurately reflect the immigrant experience as far as the journey across the border into the US and/or the experience once the immigrants get here that he would recommend; (3) how has the nexus of illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and terrorism changed attitudes toward immigrants; and (4) are there any suggestions for addressing these other problems? 

  • John Paszulya

    I have never heard so many lies coming out of a persons mouth. Mr.Urrea should be ashamed of himself. He is a disgrace to all honest Hispanics.