WHYY Press Room
this press release (MS Word document)
PROGRAM DELAWARE VALLEY VOICES EXAMINES HOW THE WORLD VIEWS
VOICES 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.
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.”
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
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
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
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.