BBC focuses on Aurora as example of Latino growth
By Stephanie Lulay email@example.com September 6, 2012 12:26PM
Father David Engbarth, of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Aurora, is recorded by BBC Radio journalist Bill Law. The BBC visited Aurora July 21-24 to record a radio documentary about America's fastest growing minority - Latinos.
Updated: September 6, 2012 12:31PM
AURORA — British journalists who wanted to tell the story of Latino growth in America had two places on their list — the first, as could be expected, was Miami, Fla., a historic hotbed for Cuban immigration.
The second was Aurora, Ill.
The first part of the two-part radio documentary, “Can Latinos Save America?” will broadcast internationally on the BBC World Service Radio starting Sept. 11.
BBC Radio journalists Bill Law and Claire Bolderson spent three days in Aurora in late July interviewing Aurorans about the change in the city’s Latino population.
The BBC journalists first reached out to Jerry Campagna, who was on day two of his new job as interim executive director of the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“I said... ‘I get the whole Miami thing.’ I have cousins there and English is a second language there. Spanish is the first. But why Aurora?” Campagna asked.
The growth in the city’s Latino population made Aurora an interesting case study, he said. Between 2000 and 2010, the Latino population in Aurora increased from 46,557 to 81,809, according to 2010 Census counts.
As Law explained to Campagna, the premise of the documentary was to explore the potential of America’s fastest growing minority — Latinos.
“They didn’t do (the documentary) here by accident. This is a big deal,” Campagna said.
Among those interviewed were Juventino Cano, president of Aurora-based Cano Container Corporation; Rev. David Engbarth, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Aurora; and Mayor Tom Weisner. Restaurant owners and undocumented students also were among the 14 people interviewed.
Campagna said the stories of the “dreamers” — undocumented students in the community — were most moving. Some of those “dreamers” didn’t find out that they were undocumented until they went to apply for a driver’s license.
“It was an emotional experience for me” to witness the anonymous interviews, Campagna said. Perspectives from those who oppose immigration to undocumented immigrants will be featured in the documentary, he said.
Michael Nila, a former Aurora police commander, was one of those interviewed. Nila’s family was one of the first Mexican families to settle in Aurora, and his uncle, Hector Jordan, was Aurora’s first Hispanic police officer, hired in 1955.
While the journalists asked about the history of the Latino community in Aurora, Nila said they also wanted to know how the “immigration issue” is policed in the city.
When asked if Latinos are welcomed in Aurora, Nila said: “To say that we are a community that overwhelmingly welcomes Latinos would be an over-characterization.”
“On a whole, I would say yes, they are welcomed. But I would say there are people here that are not welcoming; some that are threatened by the changes in neighborhoods, Spanish on signs,” Nila said.
Campagna said the interviews quickly proved some common generalities wrong.
“(The journalists) thought the language would be a unifier — but there’s different dialects,” Campagna said.
He said the 25-minute first part of the documentary will explore how Aurora can grow as a community, how immigrants can be embraced and how problems arising from immigration are dealt with.
“We have to learn to clean house in our own communities and we have to learn to get long a little better,” Campagna said after the interview.
Find documentary airtimes at: