A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

SDX Awards: TV documentaries, KUED-TV

By Quill

Up to 12 million people illegally live in the United States. While this story is nothing new to border states such as California, Arizona and Texas, other states seem far removed from the complications of illegal immigrants.

For “Shadow of Hope,” the KUED-TV team of reporter Ken Verdoia, producer Nancy Green and photographer Gary Turner researched other states’ relationships with the undocumented men, women and children.

“For two years we studied the patterns of migration, employment and residence,” said Verdoia. “The research uncovered enormous shifts in demographics in states such as Utah. We found that, in many instances, state and local governments had no capacity for responding to the challenges or needs of an immigrant population that was, in fact, doubling every three years.”

“Shadow of Hope” reveals an explosive growth of illegal immigrants seeking economic and educational opportunity in Utah and, in turn, the financial burden placed upon the state.

“The sheer desperation of the stories you hear over and over is the most compelling evidence that human needs are not being met,” said Verdoia. “I now fully realize that immigration is about much more than border control strategy, and that controlling the challenge is not just about stronger fences or more agents on the border.”

The team had little trouble finding illegal immigrants in the Salt Lake City but found few illegal immigrants willing to talk on camera.

“The fear of detection, arrest and deportation is very real,” said Green. “Fortunately, after talking with dozens of undocumented immigrants, we found some very brave people who were willing to step forward and risk deportation in the spirit of helping the public understand the desperation that drove them to the North.

KUED has received requests from across the country for “Shadow of Hope” – state agencies for training staff and formulating policy, universities for a teaching tool, religious and social organization for training and outreach. More than 20 media outlets have also requested the documentary for use as a model in studying their own region’s response to undocumented immigration.