Voices of Valor

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Voices of Valor is a play based on the Hispanic community’s historic involvement in World War II, inspired by real-life accounts of veterans and their families. Jose Cardenas talks to playwright James Garcia about the production.

José Cardenas:
Good evening. I'm José Cardenas. Tonight on Horizonte, as Arizona continues to be labeled as the busiest illegal entry point on the Mexico border we'll talk to lawmakers about various proposals to address the issue and tell you about a play inspired about stories of Latino and Latina veterans who served in World War II. All this up next on Horizonte.

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Funding is provided by bank of America, who applaud those who strife for excellence. Bank of America, higher standards, and by SRP.

Announcer:
SRP's business is water and power but our dedication to the community doesn't stop there. SRP, delivering more than power.

José Cardenas:
Last week the Arizona house of representatives voted to require governor Janet Napolitano to go ahead with her proposal to increase the number of National Guard troops to help crack down on illegal immigration at the state's border. Also the governor recently unveiled a $100 million package addressing how she plans to help fight illegal immigration. Nadine Arroyo explains the details of the governor's plan.

Nadine Arroyo:
The executive budget proposal has several components to the $100 million immigration budget plan. First the governor proposes to allocate $13.1 million to the department of public safety to be distributed among local, county and tribal agencies that border were Mexico. In that plan, $8 million would go to border security and technology, and $5.1 million for local enforcement agencies. In addition, $10million of new funds would go to law enforcement agencies to pay for overtime work such as on-duty officers, first responders and county jail costs. The budget also calls for $14.3 million for the construction of a new crime lab in southern Arizona. The budget plan also includes $9.7million for border patrol, which includes the creation of a terrorism squad, two additional gang intelligence teams and two more teams created solely for human trafficking. In addition, a one-time $50million fund would be created for additional immigration measures. It's a program named the Border Security Mobilization Reserve Fund, and local, state and tribal law enforcement agencies would be eligible to receive money from it to help with cost overruns. The proposed immigration budget also appropriates $1.3 million to allow the attorney general to prosecute crimes related to illegal immigration. Prosecutions can range from human trafficking to identity theft. Other initiatives in the immigration budget, $730,000 for inmate work crews to clean up debris and trash along the border and more than $870,000 for crime lab personnel. According to governor Napolitano, these measures will assist the state in securing the border and stopping illegal immigration, a responsibility she adds has been solely placed on Arizona until the federal government steps up to the plate.

José Cardenas:
Joining us to talk about various immigration measures being proposed at the state legislature are democratic representative Steve Gallardo and representative Ray Barnes. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us on Horizonte.

Ray Barnes:
Thank you.

Steve Gallardo:
My pleasure.

José Cardenas:
Steve, your reaction to the governor's plan?

Steve Gallardo:
Well, you know, we're anticipating additional dollars in terms of helping local law enforcement deal with some of their problems, dealing with illegal immigration. We do support the idea of securing the border, but we also need a balance. We need a balance in terms of a guest worker program. Not only just securing the border is going to do it. We need something in terms of employer sanctions, a guest worker program. There's other parts of our immigration problem that we need to address. We tend to want to, at the state legislature want, to just piecemeal the process or piecemeal this type of problem and we can't piecemeal it. We need to deal as a comprehensive package. We need to deal not only on the border, in law enforcement, we need to deal with employer sanctions and a guest worker program as well.

José Cardenas:
Guest worker would be a federal initiative?

Steve Gallardo:
Yeah, it would be a federal issue. I think our legislature is in a good position right now to work with the federal government in exactly that. President Bush and congress right now are looking in on an immigration package. I think a guest worker program has to be part of it and I think our state legislature should be on the front burners encouraging our congressional delegation that a program is needed not only for the state of Arizona but for the entire country.

José Cardenas:
Now, Governor Napolitano said many of the same things you just said, yet the initial reaction from the Hispanic caucus seemed to be negative. Can you elaborate on that?

Steve Gallardo:
Again, when we start talking about controlling our border, we need to start talking about the economy, the human life that's involved in immigration. We have to start talking about family unification, we have to start talking…what are we going to do with those folks currently in our country? We cannot just talk about enforcing. Enforcement is not going to solve our immigration problem. We have to start talking about family unification, about guest worker program. We have to talk about what we're going to do with folks currently in here. Let's talk about employer sanctions, something for the first time we are discussing here at the State Capitol.

José Cardenas:
Representative Barnes, is $100 million enough money to do all the things the governor is proposing?

Ray Barnes:
I think it's a good start. There will be no problem coming up with something similar to that. But I have to go along with the program because three years ago the republicans brought out the program of troops on the border and the governor said that she thought it was provocative. So she's coming around to some of the things that we were deciding-- discussing three years ago. We're in favor of them. Some of them are our ideas.

José Cardenas:
And there's been an exchange of accusations between the republicans in the legislature and the governor about the republicans' side Johnny-come-lately, and the governor's side the reason she vetoed various measures in the past by the majority was because there was no appropriation. There were no dollars attached to them. How do you respond to that?

Ray Barnes:
There were no appropriations with what she has come up with now. We need to sit down and discuss that she came up with $100 million. We're in favor of sitting down and discussing the $100 million… the money has not been the issue, it's been the principles that are the issue. We don't know if this is going to cost something. We know it's not going to come free because the federal government is not going to pay the bill. We need to jump in -- if this problem is going to be solved it's not going to be solved by Washington D.C., it's going to be solved by Arizona.

Steve Gallardo:
One ever the things I will always point out is we cannot solve a national problem on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives. I would have to disagree with Representative Barnes on this particular issue. We have heard a lot of talk, rhetoric coming from the republican side dealing with immigration. Yet no moneys have been appropriated in terms of trying to secure our borders, in terms of trying to enforce immigration law. Nothing has been appropriated in terms of dollars. For the first time this year we are now starting to see dollars being appropriated to a lot of the various programs. The governor came out in her state of the state off the bat, saying she wanted to secure our borders, she wanted to appropriate $100 million. We have yet to see any appropriation that come near what she's asking for. We have seen $1million for a border road. We have seen $5 million for the National Guard. But we haven't seen nothing near to the $100 million she's asking for.

José Cardenas:
Let's talk about employer sanctions because there you seem to have an interesting twist or change of roles between the democrats and the republicans in terms of their toughness on the issue. You have democrats sponsoring some relatively tough measures on employer sanctions, republicans resisting that. What's your assessment to that?

Ray Barnes:
This republican is not resisting it, José. The incentives have got to be modified. Otherwise there will be continually trespassing across the border. So if we're going to control the border, we need to control what brings people across the border and that's the work. Now, I know that immigration can work in Yuma area, San Luis, we have got approximately between -- I don't know exactly, it changes, between 20 and 30,000 immigrants a day coming from Mexico over to help the agricultural industry in Yuma, so it can work. We know that it can work.

José Cardenas:
If you had completely effective employer sanctions, say in Maricopa County where a lot of people are employed in construction and other places, where there's already a shortage of labor, wouldn't you kill the economy in Maricopa County?

Ray Barnes:
No. Because you would force the federal government to get involved and start to solve some of these problems by bringing people in like they do in Yuma. So they are not stopping bringing in of workers near Yuma. It's working every day they come across. What would prevent that from happening elsewhere in the state?

José Cardenas:
Representative Gallardo, a few years ago when there was a proposal from the Hispanic caucus for tough employer sanctions, the sense was it was a game of chicken. It was almost as if the democrats were saying, okay, you wanna do something with immigration, let's do this. This time around it seems more sincere and not a political ploy. What's your take on that?

Steve Gallardo:
We have always stated that what we want there -- in Arizona and throughout the country, we do want comprehensive immigration reform, not just securing our borders. We want some type of path to citizenship --

Ray Barnes:
Aren't employer sanctions in one sense anti-immigrant?

Steve Gallardo:
No, no. What we need is an actual balance. We need strong employer sanctions to make sure they follow the laws of our country, at the same time we need some type of guest worker program. There's no doubt that our economy is very dependent on the immigrant work force. Representative Barnes just indicated the agricultural area up in Yuma or down in Yuma, here's an area without that immigrant work force. Our agricultural industry in Arizona will just plummet. When you start talking about sanctions, yes we need tough employer sanctions- -provisions-- but we also need to talk about a guest worker program. And we have yet to start talking about a guest worker program. So--

Ray Barnes:
Well that's not so because I just got done talking to you about the Yuma guest worker program. So the guest worker programs are it plays in different places. Why can't we resolve that problem all the way across like we did down in San Luis--

Steve Gallardo:
I would agree with you.

José Cardenas:
Let's talk about some of the other things there because we have only got a few minutes left and there's a lot to cover. You have a series of measures on border security including revival of the Arizona Rangers, there's talk about posses, there's provisions about making -- being here in this country without proper documentation a felony that can be enforced by citizens to the point of using deadly force. What's going on? These seem rather extreme.

Ray Barnes:
Well, I think a powerful lot of it is probably sending a message to Washington D.C. I think proposition 200 sent a message to Washington D.C. We saw more border patrol agents, we saw more concern on the border since that happened, so we sent a message to Washington D.C. we're sending other messages to Washington D.C. also. If Washington D.C. does not get involved, I agree with representative Gallardo, we are not going to be able to solve all the problems. Washington D.C. has to get involved in order to solve all the problems. But what can we do in the meantime until they get their act together?

José Cardenas:
Of what's been out there, what do you think is the most logical, effective measure that could be passed by the legislature to deal with this problem?

Ray Barnes:
Well, I think the border security, the troops on the border is a good start. I think you're going to see a change there. I think some of the policing of the border through the posse system or through the rangers like you mentioned, I think that's a good system also. But it's still not going to solve the problem, I agree. We got to either make this thing legal or we got to enforce illegality. One of the two. And if we don't do one or the other, it's just an open border and it's not going to be any control at all.

José Cardenas:
Representative Gallardo, the same question. What's the most logical thing the legislature could do to deal with this issue?

Steve Gallardo:
Well, one, I think we need to secure our border. If it means using the National Guard to do so, I think that's okay. But before we start sending the National Guard there's other questions we have to answer in terms of what is their mission, what are the rules of engagement? These are issues we have for the discussed yet. Two, I think we can offer financial assistance to local law enforcement along the border to help them in terms of the immigration crisis that they are having to incur. So it's those types of parts that we can deal with. We can deal with the criminal element, the actual smugglers themselves, the coyotes. We should be going after them with the heavy hand, making sure these folks are brought to justice. Those are areas I believe we should be trying to address.

José Cardenas:
We'll have to leave it there for now. I'm sure we'll be back to talk more about these issues. Thank you both for joining us.

Ray Barnes:
Thank you for the chance.

José Cardenas:
Most of us may or may not know much about the involvement of Hispanics in World War II. "Voices of Valor" is a production that puts together the participation of Hispanics in the war effort and how it helped shape the American country. The play was inspired by real-life Hispanic World War II veterans and their families. Let's listen to some of their interviews.

Hector Santa Anna:
When I went to combat flying B-17's over England I flew 35 combat missions. Yes.

Interviewer:
During what period of time?

Hector Santa Anna:
We were sent over there after completing training in Alexandria, Louisiana, in October, and I was given a crew, the same crew that flew with me in combat. We were together, we went to Lincoln, Nebraska, got a brand new B-17 and flew it all the way to England. We landed in Newfoundland and then up in Reykjavik, and then in England. It took us about three days to get there because we stopped and stayed overnight. We got to Valley Wales, left the airplane there, and then we were put on a train and that's how we got to the air base where I was flying these missions out of Sudden Bury and Suffolk County, England. The ones that really strike me, the ones that we went to bomb a place called Berlin. I'll never forget that mission. Another one was the one where we landed in Leon Cupre, because the airplane had been damaged. The other one we made an emergency landing in Brussels, Belgium. Again, because of flak and all of that.

Pete Moraga:
Pearl Harbor in 1941, right in the middle of our junior year. By the middle of our junior year a lot of them were already 18, and I was only 16, going on 17. And so they had already gone. But as soon as I finished that freshman year, which is the end of May, I guess, I signed up. I enlisted in the navy. I had to get my parents' permission because I was still only 17. They gave it to me, I was sworn in at San Diego on D-Day, June 6. June 10 was my birthday. And that's the day my brother was shot down. I spent two years in the navy. Now, I say this very frankly, my naval stint was not one of action even though I was in a war zone because I spent about a year of it in the South Pacific, but always -- I was attached to a service squadron. The first place that I was at was Little Italy, Atoll, out in the pacific. It was just a big repair base.

José Cardenas:
With us is Voices of Valor playwright James Garcia. James, great to have you back on the show.

James Garcia:
Thanks.

José Cardenas:
Let's talk about how this all began, first with the oral history project in Texas.

James Garcia:
The project in Texas has been going on for several years, about six years now, started by a former journalist, a person I worked with in Texas many years ago named Maggie Rodriguez. She became a scholar, went to the university of Texas, and is actually the daughter of a World War II vet. Decided to start researching the involvement of Hispanics in World War II. Now to date she has accumulated 500 plus oral histories.

José Cardenas:
What was her purpose in doing this?

James Garcia:
I mean I think she understood from her own experience with her father that the involvement in World War II by Hispanics was unique. It was the universal story that we have all heard, Americans fighting to defend democracy and the fight against Hitler and the Japanese, so on and so forth. But there was also something very unique about it. What was unique about it, in essence before going to war the Hispanic community was treated very much as a second class community. Going to war and fighting alongside soldiers and helping really preserve civilization in many ways made the community I think realize that they deserved to be treated as equals when they came back. And that's exactly what happened. So many of those people went on to lead activist organizations and became politicians and some of them ran for congress. And their children became leaders of the Chicano civil rights movement.

José Cardenas:
And even during the course of the war you had riots in L.A. that kind of highlighted the disparate treatment of Hispanics and other minorities.

James Garcia:
Oh, absolutely. One of the things that comes up in the play is discussion about how there were two wars going on. Soldiers had gone overseas and were fighting in the trenches there at all of the major battles, of course that we've all heard of. But at the same time there was a struggle going on state side. There is a story about a soldier who returns after having fought and returns and goes back to his small town and is ultimately beaten by white kids in the neighborhood who just beat him because he's Mexican. That struggle was going on simultaneously. Stated side and over seas.

José Cardenas:
Does her work, the work in Texas, focus on both the war and the aftermath?

James Garcia:
I think what's great about the research she did which ultimately became the inspiration for the play itself is that it's not a war story for her. It's not just about battles. It's not just about bombs exploding. It's not just that story. It's about the humanity that surrounded everything that had to do with World War II. So that includes letting us see in the interviews that she gathered and in this play what life was like for the Latino community, particularly throughout the southwest but even nationwide before the war, and then when the war comes sort of the struggles they had to deal with in terms of becoming soldiers and becoming part of that whole process, but then the whole aftermath. And it also dealt very much, her interviews and the play, with the stories of family members, family members that were left behind. Sisters, spouses, parents, and what they had to go through. And I think that frankly comes from the fact that a woman did this piece, did the research, and had a more holistic attitude about the kind of research she was going to gather. I think that's fortunate for me as a playwright because I don't think I would have been as inclined to tell a war story.

José Cardenas:
We saw some segments of interviews. We also have some photos that we'll show while we're doing this interview. But your play is based on the lives of four men and two women. Tell us that and I want to talk about the specific characters.

James Garcia:
Yeah. What I did was after scanning and reading many of those hundreds of interviews she had done as well as other materials and looking at documentary work, I knew there was no way to tell everyone's story. I decided to create six composite characters. So my characters that we follow through this play really are fictionalized composites taken from hundreds of interviews and pieced together. We watched the story of these-- basically these six people, but in so many ways everything they are telling us is symbolic of all of the various challenges that so many of the people who were interviewed for the oral history project went through.

José Cardenas:
And as I understand one of the incidents is based upon an experience of an Arizonan.

James Garcia:
Yeah. There are a number-- there were a number of interviews done with Arizona veterans and family members and so on. There is, in fact, a particular scene that is inspired by one of the vets whose name actually leaves me right now, but when he returned he became active in local government and local politics, became an activist, started working on behalf of families who were simply trying to buy homes with the G.I. bill and really became a kind of spokesman for the community. And ultimately became associated with post 41, the American legion post here, and that story actually was told as part of a documentary gathered by a historian named PETE DEMUS here in town.

José Cardenas:
Who we had on the show a few months ago.

James Garcia:
Yes.

José Cardenas:
Before we went on camera you talked about the fact that this has become more than a play. It's a community event. What did you mean by that?

James Garcia:
I have been writing plays for a while now. A lot of the work I have done I think I sit down at a computer and I start to write and I create from whole cloth kind of stories. Sometimes they are inspired by real events, sometimes not. And it's theatre in the purest form. This is theatre, I think it's good theatre, and I think it has to be in order for people to sit in the audience and enjoy that experience, but it's also much more than that. It is a community event because the stories that lie behind what you're going to see on stage were real stories. They are stories that impacted the community in a way that we still feel today. We still have these experiences impacting our community in very tangible ways, so the people in the audience, so many of them when they come, they are going to be coming not just because they are interested in the topic, they might find it entertaining, but because they have grandfathers and fathers and people literally in their family who would sit around the table and tell these very same stories. And that's much bigger than theatre, I think, in many ways. It's a community event.

José Cardenas:
James, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Good luck on your play. We look forward to seeing it. And thanks for being on Horizonte.

James Garcia:
Thanks so much.

José Cardenas:
You can see "Voices of Valor" at ASU's Gammage Auditorium on March 11at 7:00p.m. For more information log on to asugammage.com. And for more information on our show just log on to www.azpbs.org, to find transcripts and topics for upcoming shows. That's it for tonight. I'm José Cardenas. For all of us at Horizonte, have a good evening.

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If you have questions or comments about Horizonte, please write to the addresses on your screen. Your comments may be used on a future edition of Horizonte. Funding for Horizonte is provided by bank of America, who applauds those who strive for excellence. Bank of America, higher standards, and by SRP --

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SRP's business is water and power, but our dedication to the community doesn't stop there. Sap, delivering more than power.

Ray Barnes: State Representative;

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