Arizona Reporter Wins Immigration Journalism Award

By CIS on June 8, 2011

WASHINGTON (June 8, 2011) – Leo W. Banks is the recipient of the 2011 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration. The award, presented annually by the Center for Immigration Studies, is intended to highlight good reporting in a field where so much of the coverage is formulaic and mawkish.

While writing about life in southern Arizona during the late 1990s, Banks began to notice the impact of illegal immigration. The human and drug smuggling networks, violence, and environmental devastation soon became unavoidable. But few journalists were willing to chronicle these historic events. Covering the border for the Tucson Weekly and contributing to other publications, Banks has used his intimate familiarity with the people and places of the Arizona and his skills as a storyteller to shine a light on places many policymakers and others would rather ignore. These skills came in especially handy during the controversy over last year's passage of the state's most recent immigration law, which prompted an enormous amount of superficial drive-by journalism by reporters wholly unfamiliar with Arizona's border.

Nicholas Stein, producer of the National Geographic Television series "Border Wars" and keynote speaker at the award presentation, said of Banks, "He’s the one who really covers these stories of the real life-and-death and day-by-day difficulties of the folks who live down there, and has followed these stories in a remarkable way." Stein, whose program chronicles the work of the Border Patrol, also noted, "I'm embedded with law enforcement but he’s embedded with the citizens."

Award Ceremony Videos:
Award Ceremony Transcript:

This award is named in memory of Eugene Katz, a native New Yorker who started his career, after Dartmouth and Oxford, 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.

Previous winners of the Katz Award are listed at