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Prologue

Ira plays audio from a YouTube video made by Jonathan Perez. In it, 24 year old Jonathan, an undocumented immigrant, walks straight into a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, tells an officer he doesn’t have papers, and gets himself arrested.

Act One: Breaking the Ice

Reporter Michael May tells the story of activists from the National Immigrant Youth Alliance who intentionally got arrested for being undocumented. They believed if they could get inside the Broward Transitional Center in Florida, they could prevent lots of the immigrants there from being deported.

Prologue

Ira tells the story of how Oscar Ramirez, a Guatemalan immigrant living near Boston, got a phone call with some very strange news about his past. A public prosecutor from Guatemala told Oscar that when he was three years old, he may have been abducted from a massacre at a village called Dos Erres.

Act One: Alien Experiment

Last Summer, Alabama passed HB56, the most sweeping immigration bill in the country. It's an example of a strategy called "attrition through enforcement" or, more colloquially, "self-deportation"--making life so hard on undocumented immigrants that they choose to leave the country.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to reporter John Bowe about the story of John Nash Pickle, who ran a company in Tulsa, Oklahoma that made steel tanks used in the oil industry. According to 52 Indian men whom Pickle hired and brought to America, Pickle was trying to compete with foreign companies, doing something most companies never try.

Act One: Cowboys And Indians

We continue the story of John Pickle. He hires skilled, experienced welders in India and brings them to the United States.

Prologue

It took almost a month for Eli Ramirez to make it to this country. A native of Guatemala, he was smuggled through Mexico in the transport tank of a fuel truck, he was stranded in the desert, and forced to drink his own urine to survive.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass tells the story of Marisela and Yadira, who were honors students in high school. They wanted to go to the best colleges, but they couldn't get federally-funded scholarships because they weren't U.S. citizens; they had come from Mexico when they were little.

Act Two: Exodus Of One

When she was three years old, Georgia was caught by immigration officials when a Milwaukee woman tried to bring her into the country illegally from Jamaica. She ended up at a residential detention center in Chicago.

Prologue

Ira talks with Lee Qi, who came to America from China. He worked in Chinese restaurants in small towns, live in tiny apartments with other illegal immigrants who worked there as well—apartments that were sometimes in the back of the restaurants.

Prologue

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.

Act One: Where Goes The Neighborhood

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.

Act Two: Whose Idea Was This Anyway?

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.

Act Three: Man Without A Country

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.