WHYY Press Room
this press release (MS Word document)
PROGRAM DELAWARE VALLEY VOICES
EXAMINES HOW THE WORLD VIEWS AMERICA
…Airs Friday, May 23 at 5 p.m. on TV12…
Many immigrants are drawn to the United States by distorted
media images of American culture only to end up as impoverished
laborers, say participants in a new WHYY-TV special. The unique
issues and concerns of today’s immigrants will be examined
in a special hour-long edition of DELAWARE TONIGHT’s “Friday
Forum” on Friday, May 23 at 5 p.m. on TV12.
The program features 36 residents
from diverse communities across the Delaware Valley. Participants
include immigrants from Ireland, India, Cuba, Russia, Taiwan,
Liberia and more, as well as community activists and leaders
in local academics and government. Hosted by WHYY’s Nancy
Karibjanian, the program features discussions about how the
world views the United States and how we as Americans must now
be more aware of the impact of U.S. foreign policy. The discussions
were taped during town meetings held at the WHYY Technology
Center in Philadelphia and the WHYY Delaware Operations Center
During the taping of the program,
panelists explored the issues surrounding the topic of immigration,
including America’s current immigration policies, why
people choose to immigrate to America, how citizens of other
countries perceive America and where these perceptions come
Mark Miller, Professor of Political
Science and International Relations at The University of Delaware,
stated that the United States is the world’s preeminent
land of migration and that “no where else is immigration
so important to self understanding and our foreign policy.”
DELAWARE VALLEY VOICES reveals that
many immigrants have a distorted view of the United States prior
to arriving. Many believe that it will be easy to find their
fortunes. Dr. Pedro Ferreira, a Cuban-American psychologist,
stated that Hollywood films contribute to this misperception
and that many new immigrants have “a very intense preoccupation
with the glamour and wealth that is portrayed.”
Miller stated, “We take in about
1,000,000 people each year as legal immigrants. It is a hard
fact that many more people want to come to the United States
than we can accommodate and this leads to illegal immigration
and human trafficking. It is a very tough issue.”
The program addresses how the Federal
Government provides little or no assistance to new immigrants
to help them assimilate into American culture. The responsibility
falls solely with the private sector because the role of the
Federal Government stops with the admission process.
There is also an investigation into
the growing level of racial prejudice against certain immigrants.
Alphonso Kawah, a former Liberian ambassador, commented that
racial prejudice is more prevalent toward immigrants from the
African continent than with immigrants from Western Europe.
Other panelists concurred that immigrants who are Anglo feel
“more welcome” and have an easier time assimilating
into American society.
In spite of these harsh realities,
most immigrants still feel America is the best place to live
on earth. To them, America provides freedom, prosperity, education,
refuge and asylum.
Andres Gomez, owner of an ethnic restaurant
in Wilmington, Delaware, came to the United States from the
Dominican Republic eight years ago. Gomez works over 12 hours
every day of the week to keep his business successful, but said
it is worth it. He stated that living in America affords him
the opportunity to make money for vacations and rent, and provides
his children with a good education.
“There is no golden plate here.
There is no free lunch,” said Dr. Shao-Tang Sun, an immigrant
from Taiwan who is President and CEO of Elsicon, Inc., a technology
corporation in Newark, Delaware. “But, if you do work,
you will have opportunities open up for you.”
WHYY, in partnership with Philadelphia
Cares, produced this program as part of local outreach around
the national By the People project, a 16-month initiative created
by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions that is designed to help Americans
focus on their connection to the rest of the world and foster
discussion on the country’s role in world events.
At 10 p.m. on May 23, WHYY will air
By the People: America in the World on TV12. Hosted by The NewsHour’s
Jim Lehrer, the program will feature a roundtable discussion
between citizens from around the country and a key foreign policy
shaper about the different perspectives citizens bring to the
international issues currently on the nation’s agenda.
The producer of DELAWARE VALLEY VOICES
is Patty Hartman. Local support for DELAWARE VALLEY VOICES is
provided by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, funded by The William
and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
and the Public Broadcasting Service.
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