Garrison Keillor onstage January 19, 2013 at Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, AZ. Photo credit: James E. Garcia
I had the honor this week of serving as a consultant to the nationally broadcast public radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. The host, Garrison Keillor, often gathers information about the communities he visits by interviewing local historians, journalists, community leaders and the like.
I got to watch the show onstage with a couple of friends, ASU Professor Mike Kozicki and singer and guitarist Ruth Vichules.
It was great fun, but what I most appreciated were the poignant and powerful comments Mr. Keillor made about 90 minutes into the show regarding the need to respect the contributions of immigrants.
Thank you, Garrison, for your willingness to speak the truth about this country’s need to find a humane and practical solution to the issue of immigration reform. And thanks to my old friend Michael Reed at ASU Gammage for connecting me and Garrison.
The show airs on more than 500 public stations in the U.S. and overseas. About 4 million U.S. listeners tune in each week. Here’s a transcript of Keillor’s comments. You can find the entire program archived at www.prairiehome.org.
“…And in 1912…as all school children know, Arizona was admitted into the Union….Arizona, which got a bad rap a couple of years ago for a law that passed the Legislature that gave law enforcement the right to stop people they suspected might be undocumented and ask to see their papers. It was known as the “Show Us Your Papers Act”, and it caused a lot of controversy, a lot of noise was made, and things were said, and out of all of that Arizona got tagged as a state of bigots, which it absolutely is not. Simply is not true. [AUDIENCE APPLAUDS] [Since then….] The business community got together and they killed off bills in the Legislature that would have required schools and hospitals to report undocumented immigrants, and more than most people Arizonans see this as a human story, as a story involving people. They live in communities in which undocumented workers, illegals if you like, are trusted and contributing members of society, [AUDIENCE APPLAUDS] whose values of hard work and family are our values, or we’d like to think that they are. Arizonans know that mass deportation of 11 or 12 million people in this country just would be a horror, [and] that respect must be paid to Latino people. [AUDIENCE APPLAUDS] And the majority of Arizonans on both sides of the aisle believe that the people who were brought here by their parents as children should have a clear path to citizenship. [AUDIENCE APPLAUDS] And Arizonans just wish that Washington would do something about it. Well you didn’t come here for a speech but I gave you one anyway. [LAUGHTER, CHEERING AND APPLAUSE] Just wanted to clear that out…Now here’s the Sandoval sisters…and here’s the Roland brother and sister…and their orphan bass player, Jesse Allen…Play us another tune here…Run Boy Run.”
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Bio: James E. Garcia is a playwright, journalist, university lecturer, and Phoenix-based media communications consultant. As a journalist, he has been a reporter, columnist, magazine and newspaper editor, foreign correspondent, and television, radio and online commentator. He is the owner of Creative Vistas Media, co-founder of The Real Arizona Coalition (therealarizona.org), immediate past chair of the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise, and the author of more than 20 plays.