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The Island Diaries

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America ReFramed

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Stories from the Stage

Stories from the Stage

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Upfront

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City Rising

The Informal Economy: Immigration and the Demand for Low-Wage Work

While some argue that immigrants in this country drain public resources or prefer informal work to evade fiscal responsibility, experts say many work untraditional jobs because they lack proper access to the traditional labor market. The Bracero guest worker program, the National Origin Act and the Chinese Exclusion Act show how immigration policy opens or closes depending on the country’s need for low-wage labor.

In Eastern Coachella Valley, Santos and Juana Barajas share that both of their fathers came to work in the U.S. as part of the Bracero program. Today, the entrepreneurial Barajas own their own date ranch, in hopes they can leave it behind as a legacy for their grandchildren. However, their small-scale farm efforts are thwarted by large wholesale companies that block their access to a market where they can sell their product.

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Full Episodes
Season
People marching during the Oakland teacher strike. | Image from "City Rising: Youth & Democracy"
Episode
56:39
City Rising

S3 E1: City Rising - Youth & Democracy

This third season of the “City Rising” series will demystify the role and work of youth organizations in California, demonstrating how young people are organizing their communities to participate in public policy and make lasting change.
Caridad - Los Angeles Street Vending Campaign - City Hall
Episode
56:52
City Rising

S2 E1: City Rising - The Informal Economy

California is the world's fifth largest economy — yet, hiding in plain sight are workers who labor off the books, unprotected and unregulated. Follow four California workers organizing to find pathways for legalization and protection.
Aerial view of Los Angeles
Episode
56:39
City Rising

S1 E1: City Rising - Gentrification and Displacement

City Rising shows how gentrification is deeply rooted in a history of discriminatory laws and practices in the United States.
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Episode
15:29
City Rising

E4: Impact

Laws that favor property owners and real estate developers have left many residents without a safety net to protect themselves from displacement.
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Episode
15:44
City Rising

E1: Legacy

From the displacement of Native peoples to the enforcement of Jim Crow, the history of in U.S. land policy and practice is a history of inequities.
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Episode
14:15
City Rising

E2: Resilience

Communities that have historically been disinvested, such as Boyle Heights, Santa Ana and East Oakland, have established rich community networks, informal economies and culture.
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Episode
13:52
City Rising

E3: Return to the Cities

Cities have become more entrepreneurial, seeking private investment that fuels large-scale gentrification.
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Episode
16:54
City Rising

E5: Mobilization

As more tenants face displacement, they are recognizing their power in numbers and creating a “renter nation” movement advocating for their right to property and equitable development.
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Episode
15:13
City Rising

E6: The Future

As more people realize they will never be homeowners, renters are thinking about their rights and refusing to yield decision-making to owners and developers.
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