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(WASHINGTON, May 2009) – Arnold Shapiro, Executive Producer of the ABC television program "Homeland Security USA," is this year's winner of the Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration. The award, presented each year by the Center for Immigration Studies, is intended to recognize those who go beyond the usual clichés in examining immigration and whose work informs deliberations in this important policy area.
Shapiro is the Oscar- and Emmy-winning producer of "Scared Straight," "Rescue 911," "Big Brother," and dozens of other documentaries and TV series. "Homeland Security USA" was a 2009 series of 13 one-hour, behind-the-scenes explorations of the work of the various agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.
While Shapiro himself is the first to admit the documentary series is not, as he told the Hollywood Reporter, "investigative journalism," it is, in a sense, explanatory journalism. His series helped familiarize viewers with the actual work of DHS employees – patrolling the Arizona border with unmanned Predator aircraft, interrogating suspected child-smugglers at JFK Airport, checking trucks at the Laredo border crossing, rescuing a boatload of illegal aliens in the Mona Passage, and so on. Seeing close up the daily challenges of protecting the nation's frontiers is an essential prerequisite to informed policymaking.
Maria Luisa O’Connell, Assistant Commission for Public Affairs at DHS's Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, commended Shapiro's work at the recent luncheon to present the award, calling him "a pioneer within the department" for helping CBP answer the question "How can we communicate better?" and present a more balanced view of the agency's work. She said the experience of working with Shapiro "opened the door" for other such efforts, such as National Geographic's "Border Wars" series.
This award is named in memory of Eugene Katz, who started his career as a reporter for the Daily Oklahoman. In 1928, he joined the family business, working as an advertising salesman for the Katz Agency, and in 1952 became president of Katz Communications, a half-billion-dollar firm which not only dealt in radio and television advertising but also owned and managed a number of radio stations. Mr. Katz was a member of the Center for Immigration Studies board until shortly after his 90th birthday in 1997. He passed away in 2000.
The Center for Immigration Studies is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute which examines and critiques the impact of immigration on the United States. It is animated by a pro-immigrant/low-immigration vision, but offers the Katz Award not to promote any point of view but rather to foster informed decision-making on an issue so central to America's future.