Pasco man stars in new series about illegal immigration

Pasco man stars in new series about illegal immigration »Play Video
PASCO, Wash. -- A controversial topic, both worldwide and here in the Tri-Cities, is illegal immigration. Al Jazeera America has a new show that focuses on the issue by reliving stories of people who have tried to migrate to the U.S. but didn't make it.

One of the six people chosen to take part in the documentary series, called "Borderland," was a man from Pasco. KEPR sat down with Gary Larsen about his experience on the show.

"You know, I'm scared, I'm terrified, I'm nervous," said Gary. "People say immigrants are coming and they're stealing our jobs; it's not true."

Gary was born and raised in Pasco. He's been on a farm since he was four years old. His 1,000-acre farm requires a lot of work.

"Being an ag background, we need people to work and, quite frankly, most Americans won't do farm jobs anymore," he said.

So Gary has grown up in favor of immigration.

"If we don't have people coming in to do these jobs, where's our food source going to come from?" he asked.

When Gary found out he was a finalist to be a part of the show "Borderland" on the Al Jazeera America network, he knew he would be a perfect pick.

"What's nice about 'Borderland': it doesn't give you a solution; it doesn't try to force a solution down your throat," said Gary. "What it's doing is it's showing both sides of the issue."

"It's very overwhelming to see this many people that have perished trying to make it into the U.S.," he said during his appearance on the show.

Gary followed the story of a 13-year old Guatemalan boy who was trying to make it to Phoenix, Arizona, to be with his mother and siblings. Omar wanted a better life. But the teen didn't make it. He died of exposure in the desert near Tucson.

"Everybody's views changed," Gary said.

He says the half of the cast that was completely against illegal immigration felt a little bit different after their time on the show.

"It's one thing to sit in your house and say, 'We're not gonna let those people come in, they're illegal,' and everything," he said. "But then when you see the background of why they're coming in, it makes it a little bit more acceptable."

A message Gary hopes more people can learn to understand.

Al Jazeera America can be watched on Dish Network and DirecTV. Charter does not carry the channel.

"Borderland" consists of five one-hour episodes.