What side are you on? Where do you stand on the U.S.-Mexico border war? These are just a few of the questions explored and discussed as Discovery Channel takes us live to the border in their new six-part series Border Live beginning Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 9-11 ET/PT. The series will broadcast live each Wednesday from its New York-based studio where journalist Bill Weir tracks the action and stories as they unfold, engaging with a panel of experts and field reporters live at the border.
Don’t let the title or the format of the show fool you, as this is NOT a news show. It’s more docu-style storytelling blended with live reporting and compelling discussion. Veteran investigative journalist Lilia Luciano, who is currently stationed along the Nogales, Arizona port of entry, says the stories she’s covered to date have been profoundly impactful — she’s following and embedding herself with border enforcement, law enforcement, community members and migrants.
“It’s very immersive, and it’s live, basically,” Luciano shares. “I am in the field. I will be live … I’ll be narrating live and also presenting some of my stories which I have already been filming. So, it’s more documentary style, very immersive storytelling within the community, following people who work, who live, who survive along the border, and bringing those stories in a shorter doc-format while being live in the field.”
Luciano has been traveling the Texas and Arizona borders connecting with people. Her goal is to share the “very human stories of what life is like along the border.” In the first episode (airing Wednesday, Dec. 5), she’s covering a dangerous concern she refers to as Operation Big Rig, where people are being smuggled into the country in semis and trucks in the compartments on the top of the main cabin of the vehicle.
“I did it myself to experience and bring the audience as closely as possible, and as intimately as possible to what a migrant who’s hiding in this way is going through,” she shares. “It was cold, and it was scary — riding along the highway at full speed. The person who took me was a truck driver who had that happen to him — they found a person who was hiding there when they got to the checkpoint.”
In addition to documenting stories like this, Luciano is also doing ride-alongs with border patrol, and interviews with asylum seekers — people who are now in shelters on the U.S. side who’ve been able to make their claim and pass the credible fear test and then begin their journey as they await a decision by a judge to whether or not they will be granted asylum. The people she interviewed were from Honduras.
“I spent some time in a town called Arivaca meeting all kinds of people,” she shares. “It’s a very diverse town … all kinds of cultures of people. We met people who have been there for generations. Families with homeland there forever, hippies who moved out there decades ago, and Mexican families, native people. They all come together. It’s a small town, less than a thousand people. Some of them are dedicated to humanitarian aid because this is a desert town. It’s about 10 miles away from the Mexico border, but the Sonoran Desert is unforgiving. They find people along the way, and they try to help migrants who are crossing and provide humanitarian aid, whether that be food, blankets, water. Some of them will actually bring them into their homes, although they won’t say that on camera because that’s not legal. Then you have these militia groups that are out there scouting and looking for people to detain or to call border patrol on. So, you have the clash between the militia groups and the humanitarian aid groups who have completely different motivations and perceptions of not just the migrants or smugglers or the world really in general.”