Host Ira Glass goes to jail in Bristol County, Massachussetts, where there's a large Portuguese community, and where even a law-and-order sheriff named Tom Hodgson opposes this particular immigration law. He also talks with inmate Jorge Aruda, who's being deported for a crime he already served his sentence for.
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Producer Blue Chevigny tells more of the story from Bristol County, where the immigration law of 1996 has a community of non-political people reluctantly going to protests, attending meetings at night, talking to politicians, and doing all sorts of other things most of us would do anything to avoid.
Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesman Bill Strassberger explains why INS opposes parts of the 1996 immigration law, even while it enforces it. Congressman Barney Frank—whose district includes Bristol County—argues that most of his colleagues in Congress had no idea what they were voting for when they voted for key portions of the law.
What happens if the immigration service wants to deport you, but the country you came from won't take you back? Under current law, usually, you stay in jail...indefinitely. Writer Alex Kotlowitz tells the story of one legal alien from Vietnam, Trung Tran, and the unusually close and friendly relationships he and his fellow deportees have with their captors in a jail in Victoria, Texas.
Keith Gessen, a young Russian emigre, revisits the heroes of his youth: the brave Soviet dissidents who risked their lives at the height of the Cold War. Many of them resettled into comfortable suburban lives in America.