Discovery Channel's 'Border Live' is an apolitical look at the many facets of life on US-Mexico border
Investigative journalist Luciano says the show will take an immersive and exploratory journey to the situation at the border in order to paint the most accurate picture for viewers
The situation at the US border with Mexico is tense, to say the least. Our border patrol and enforcement agents are fighting each day to resist immigrants from crossing over illegally, which is no walk in the park. Violent skirmishes and tear gas are a common sight on the other side of the fence as President Trump remains resolute in "not letting them in."
There is a multitude of facets to the current crisis. While one may argue that the migrant caravan is just a group of meek asylum seekers, several stories on the ground indicate otherwise. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), there are more than 500 criminals among the migrants trying to get into the US, making the job of border agents extremely high-risk. On the other hand, there are numerous cases of genuine asylum seekers who are looking to America for help.
Upholding justice across the spectrum at the border is a monumental task for anyone, but Discovery Channel's Border Live is taking the onus to do just that. The all-new six-part multiplatform series will document the work of law enforcement on the US-Mexico border as well as the real lives, real moments and real stories of those that live and work along its remote stretches.
Meaww.com had the opportunity to chat with veteran investigative journalist Lilia Luciano who will be immersed in the field and tackle stories by interviewing a tapestry of people who live and work along the border. The investigative reporter, who is currently with TEGNA’s ABC10 in Sacramento, California, is bi-lingual and has a deep understanding of border issues.
Luciano has won numerous awards and was recently awarded the Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuous Coverage for her reportage on the Northern California wildfires of 2018. Aside from having on-the-ground experience reporting from Puerto Rico and other crisis areas, Luciano has served as host for several VICE platforms (VICELAND, VICE News) and has anchored at Univision Networks. She is also a seasoned documentary film director working on projects with HBO Latino.
What can we expect in the first installment of the upcoming six-part multiplatform series 'Border Live'?
'Border Live' is going to be a live show. It will air for two hours every Wednesday night at 9 pm. It's a very interactive show wherein we are following border enforcement and law enforcement agencies all along the border and bringing the audience into what's going on at the moment regarding apprehension, stopping the smuggling and trafficking of drugs as well as humans. My stories are aimed at bringing people closer to all the human experiences and what life is like for people who live along the border - people who work there, people who are either involved in what happens across the border as well as those who aren't.
'Border Live' crews will be embedded out in the field with officers and special agents at key border sites. Isn't this a dangerous exercise for the crews?
Well, we're definitely taking every precaution possible to make sure that crews are safe. But you have to as close and intimate as possible to where the story is happening. It is a priority for us to be present at the scene and witness everything that's taking place.
Could you tell us more about the team and how you plan to work together?
We have a very complete team of experts who can contextualize what's happening live. Lenny is an expert in the law enforcement part having served as the Chief Inspector with the U.S. Marshal Service. He will shed light on how teams are approaching, say, for instance, a raid on some stash house, contextualize from what he knows; What it's like to approach a situation that could be dangerous for agents, the precautions that we're taking, the intelligence that goes into it. With Victor, he knows everything there is to know about border patrolling and enforcement. There's a lot that happens over there that can't be understood from the naked eye perspective - if action comes from a specific policy, or if something is a common or not-so-common practice. So, these are people who will bring years of experience to facilitate us to actually understand what's happening, understand the strategy and other details of every move.
My experience in journalism has always been about connecting people and getting to understand what it's like to be in somebody's shoes, even if it's for a day or just a few hours; to understand what drives people, why they do what they do, how they react to certain circumstances, etc. So, it's a range of experiences that I'm able to document in the series, be it going for a ride along with border patrol agents, understanding the challenges they face on the field as well as talking to asylum seekers and migrants and understanding what it is they are seeking when they come to this country; same with smugglers and people who are part of criminal organizations and understanding what drives them.
President Trump seems firm in his decision to not allow the migrants in. What does the foreseeable future look like for them?
I think there are so many different possibilities and outcomes that could play out. What the administration plans to do is one thing, but there are so many layers and levels in the system that have to be factored in such decisions. It depends on what policies will be implemented there if it's up to the agencies that are there, considering we have the Department of Justice making decisions along with judges. Also, we have to consider the mandate that is coming down from the administration. I think we'll have to see how the situation plays out.
What is it like to cover an issue that is so divisive in the country, knowing that any statement will be viewed as bias one side or the other?
I agree. It is so interesting. You know, this is what I do every day as an investigative journalist. My whole job is about getting close to stories, understanding the human experience, and also holding the powerful accountable. It depends on what kind of story I'm covering. Of course, there's always going to be a personal or emotional impact and my life experiences are always part of my observation. But that's when, as a journalist, you have to step back and ask the right questions to make sure that the reality you're portraying or projecting in your stories is accurate, considering it directly impacts the people with whom you're engaging individually.
While I agree that it is hard, I don't think it's impossible. I think we are more committed to putting together a show that's not political, transparent, and without an agenda.
You are embedded with border agents but are also planning to tackle stories that exist outside of law enforcement. How are you going to do that?
I'm committed to showing as many angles as possible. I'm interviewing victims of crime, people who are running criminal organizations, as well as law enforcement - basically all kinds of stories from all angles possible. I want to understand why they do what they do and how they are impacted by either policy or the events that transpire along the border. To me, it's always been about treating and relating to each human equally.
If I may ask, what is your opinion on the current policies that are in effect along the border?
I think there are so many policies that are playing out. What I'm really doing is navigating the impact of those policies on the lives of people and what happens to their communities. You know, I do have views and observations on so many different things that are happening. Fortunately, my job is not to come up with solutions but simply to portray the problems. That's the fortune of being a journalist and not a policymaker. I try to find the stories that will give internal insights, but in terms of how I feel or what I think, I don't have the wealth of information that people who are elected to devise policies for specific issues do, so it wouldn't be fair to give a personal opinion.
Border Live, an all-new six-part multiplatform series, will broadcast live beginning Wednesday, December 5, airing 9-11 PM ET/PT on Discovery.