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652: ICE Capades

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Prologue: Prologue

Ira Glass

I had a weird conversation with a congressman this week. This is Mark Pocan, Democrat out of Wisconsin. The main sponsor of a bill to do this thing that protesters have been calling for the last few months, abolish ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. His bill would terminate the agency. Immigration enforcement would continue, but a bipartisan commission would hand off the stuff that ICE does to other federal agencies, and eliminate anything it deems inhumane or cruel, or a violation of international agreements. After one year, the agency would not exist. It would be abolished. But the politics of this are so peculiar that in our half hour conversation, the congressman could not bring himself to say the actual words that he would abolish ICE.

Ira Glass

Do you want to abolish the agency?

Mark Pocan

I think I've answered that question a few times, Ira.

Ira Glass

But just yes or no. Do you want to abolish the agency?

Mark Pocan

Ira, for a half hour, I've given you a conversation on this, and I think I've explained what I'm trying to do. Do you have the bill, because do you need me to shoot you the words. I'm not sure if you have it in front of you.

Ira Glass

No, I have it in front of me. It says to establish a commission that would terminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Mark Pocan

It's establish a commission to reassign the essential duties that were created by ICE to other agencies, and to get rid of the unnecessary duties. That's the essential thrust of the bill, and that's what we're trying to accomplish.

Ira Glass

Right. So you do want to terminate the agency? You do want to abolish the agency?

Mark Pocan

I want to make sure the essential duties of the agency--

Ira Glass

To understand why he was talking this way, let me tell you the story of his last two weeks in Congress. It began when he proposed this bill to abolish ICE. Mainly, he and his co-sponsors were objecting to the way that President Trump has the agency going after undocumented immigrants these days. One of his co-sponsors, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal told me they had no illusions about this ever making it to the floor of the House.

Pramila Jayapal

No, no, no. Because no immigration bills on our side get brought to the floor, not even ones that have significant co-sponsorship, including Republican co-sponsorship, like the Dream Act. And so it was very clear to us that this was just a messaging bill for us to be able to really talk about how outrageous the agency is.

Ira Glass

So they introduced their bill, and it got some Democratic support. But you know who really loved it? Republicans.

Paul Ryan

They have really jumped the sharks on the left.

Ira Glass

This is the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.

Paul Ryan

They have really-- it's an amazing, it's the craziest position I've ever seen. And they are just tripping over themselves to move too far to the left. They're out of the mainstream of America.

Ira Glass

For months now, actually, conservative media have loved any hint that the Democrats want to abolish ICE. Fits into their whole narrative that the Democrats are soft on immigration, and adds a kind of wingnut extremist edge to it, like people who call for the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service. In that way, abolish ICE is the build the wall of the left, blunt like a punch to the jaw, exciting for those who believe in it, whackadoodle for those who don't. And if you get right down to it, maybe not the very best way to fix the problem that it is supposed to fix, but that is not what we're here talking about today.

Here are Jesse Watters and Laura Ingraham, gleeful on Fox.

Jesse Watters

I cannot believe they're doing it. It's political suicide.

Laura Ingraham

Good luck on turning that into a platform that actually wins votes.

Ira Glass

President Trump tweeted, "The two biggest opponents of ICE in America today are the Democratic Party and MS-13!"

Donald Trump

I love that issue if they're going to actually do that. They're seriously talking about that?

Ira Glass

It didn't take long, just one day. The Republican leadership in the House was like, you want to abolish ICE? Great. Here's House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy.

Kevin Mccarthy

Well, you know what? We're going to have a vote on the floor.

Ira Glass

So Mark Pocan and a few of his co-sponsors did something you do not see very often. They told everybody, we have this bill, don't vote for it. Basically, it's a trap.

Mark Pocan

Clearly, there was no real intention to see that bill pass. They were trying to use it as some kind of a gotcha at election time.

Ira Glass

Apparently, the Republicans saw this, that all the Democrats were ready to go on record and vote, all of them together, and say they do not want to abolish ICE, which is exactly the opposite message that the Republicans want them to be carrying into midterms. So they ditched that plan. The bill didn't come to the fore. Instead, this week, Republicans in the House took a different tack.

Man 1

The clerk will report the title of the resolution.

Clerk

House resolution 990, resolution supporting the officers and personnel who carry out the important mission of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Ira Glass

Behold, a House resolution in support of ICE and also incidentally officially denouncing anybody who calls for the agency's abolishment. Calls to abolish ICE, it says, are an insult to these heroic law enforcement officers who make sacrifices every day to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and protect our safety and security. No surprise it passed easily, 244 to 35. Most Democrats, 133 of them, simply voted present, and thus avoided being on the record either for or against the agency. That is just how radioactive, how politically dangerous this whole idea of abolishing ICE is. The phrase, abolish ICE, does not even appear in the Democrats' bill to abolish ICE.

And I suppose that's why Congressman Pocan did not want to say the phrase out loud with me. Well, from WBEZ Chicago, it's This American Life. I'm Ira Glass. Today on our program, we have two stories from this hot potato of a federal agency, one that does so many things I bet you know nothing about, one that has expanded its powers rapidly. Stay with us.

Act One: We'll Talk About It in the Car

Ira Glass

Act One, We'll Talk About It in the Car.

So in this show about ICE, before we get started, it seems like it might be a good idea to do a very quick primer on what exactly ICE is. The agency has only been around for 15 years. It was created after September 11th. The idea was, Customs and Border Protection would be the agency at the actual border stopping people there. ICE would deal with the interior of the country, and a lot of its mission at the beginning was very post-9/11. It was all about catching terrorists, arms traffickers, cyber crimes, transnational gangs, child predators, catching criminals of various sorts.

One department of ICE went after undocumented immigrants. But it was not nearly as robust. It did not do as much until after immigration reform failed in 2007. Since then, that part of the agency has stepped up its game under rules set by each new administration. President Obama still has the record for the most people deported, but President Trump, of course, has unleashed agents like they have never been unleashed before. Today, they can question pretty much anybody they meet and put them into deportation proceedings, even if they have no criminal record, even if they have lived here productively and peacefully for decades.

ICE has brought back worksite raids. They're involved with the family separations, along with Customs and Border Protection. This week, there were, and of course it's a unique week, because every day, families that the Trump administration separated at the border are being reunited. The administration has a court imposed deadline to get everybody back together by Thursday, July 26. That's why they acknowledged that they are not going to make it, or maybe even come close, which brings us to our first story today. And OK, I realize there is a lot of coverage out there of parents being reunited with children.

But we came across this audio that we thought was unusual, and took us inside the world of that in this way that we had not heard elsewhere. A reporter named Jeremy Raff, who's with The Atlantic, has been following this one lawyer in Texas for this documentary he's making. And he's friends with one of the producers of our show, Nadia Reiman and shared with her this material that he's been videotaping of this lawyer trying to reunite one mom and her son. Quick warning that we've unbeeped the curse words here in the podcast. If you prefer a beeped version of our show, maybe you're listening with kids, it's at our website. Here's Nadia and you will hear from Jeremy, the reporter, later in the story.

Nadia Reiman

Jodi Goodwin, the immigration lawyer, speaks pretty good Spanish for a white girl. She's effortless in it, moves through her words in neatly accented Norteno tones, dropping perfectly placed Spanish f-bombs.

Jodi Goodwin

[SPEAKING SPANISH] dialing numbers, you know, just waiting for somebody to answer the phone. How are you doing?

Nadia Reiman

That's her on the phone with an ICE officer. She's in Harlingen, Texas, way down in the southern tip, where she's been practicing immigration law for more than 20 years. So she knows these guys. She's grown up with them.

Jodi Goodwin

I mean I care about them. I mean, they're my friends. They're people that I work with all the time. I mean, we've known each other for like over two decades. We've seen our kids be born, we've gone through health issues with our children. The kids go to the same schools.

Yeah, yeah, I'm here.

Nadia Reiman

She's on the phone trying to get a Honduran woman named Anita out of detention and reunited with her son, Jenri. They have been separated for about a month. An ICE agent told her that Anita should be out on bond, but she's not.

Jodi Goodwin

Are you freaking kidding me? I know. This woman has a freaking five year old. OK, who's my best bet with the supervisors to get this overridden? Because this is bullshit to have one policy for some people and continue to cause prolonged trauma to a fucking five year old.

Nadia Reiman

Even the ICE agents that Jodi's known for over two decades have conflicting info. One says, yeah, she should be out soon on bond. The other is like, no, we're not giving bonds anymore. But Jodi talks to a manager, and she gets them to release Anita. Anita's kid, Jenri, though, he's at a shelter nearby. It's called BCFS. To get him out, Jodi has his birth certificate and Anita's ID. She's emailed all the necessary paperwork, but she's still not sure how it will play out.

She's seen other parents do this, and be told, you can visit for an hour, but you can't have your child back. Come back again tomorrow. One parent had been told this four times. Four days in a row, they showed up, hung out with their kid for an hour, and still, no reunification. So recently, some parents have been buying tents and threatening to set up a camp right outside the shelters, refusing to leave until they get their kids back. So Jodi tells Anita about this and says, do you want to sleep outside if that's what it takes to get Jenri back?

Jodi Goodwin

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Anita

Si.

Nadia Reiman

Anita's like, yes. While Jodi is explaining all of this to Anita, she's going through this huge stack of papers. She turns one page, and there is a black and white photo of Anita and her son. It was taken just a few moments before border patrol separated them. Anita sees this picture, and starts to tear up. Jodi notices.

Jodi Goodwin

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Nadia Reiman

And she's like, hey, we're in this fight together.

Jodi Goodwin

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Nadia Reiman

Those tears, we're going to save those tears for when you get your kid back.

Jodi Goodwin

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Nadia Reiman

The mama bear is going to come out. We're going to be a mama bear tomorrow. So the next morning, they drive to the shelter armed with paperwork. It looks like a church. There are basketball courts outside, there's classrooms. Jodi and Anita knock on the door, and they go inside. And then, some BCFS employees take them to this room, and there's Jenri. No need for tents or mama bears or anything. They're ready to release them. Anita's thrilled, but her five year old, who hasn't seen her in a month--

Jodi Goodwin

Jenri was sitting in a chair, and he remained seated in the chair. And he didn't get out of the chair. He didn't run to his mom. And that shocked Anita. She started crying, and she knelt down on the floor in front of the chair where her little boy was sitting. And she tried to give him a hug, and she asked for forgiveness a lot of times. [SPEAKING SPANISH] over and over again. And then she kept talking to him and she pulled herself back a little bit so she could see his face.

She put her hands on his face, and she asked how he was and if they had treated him well. And he didn't say anything. She kind of just gave it a few seconds to make some eye contact. It was probably about a minute later that he reached his arms around and gave her a big hug, and I think they probably hugged each other for about two minutes before they let go.

Nadia Reiman

It's not clear why it was so quick to get him out. Jodi's best guess is that it's some combination of all the media attention plus the upcoming deadline for reunifying parents and kids. On top of that, if Anita had set up a tent outside, which she was totally ready to do, it wouldn't have been great press.

So all this audio was gathered by my friend, Jeremy Raff, from The Atlantic, and I'm just going to let him mostly take it from here. When Jodi and Anita went to pick up Jenri, he was there, but he wasn't allowed in the shelter. So he waited outside. It was like 100 degrees out, so he was under a tree.

Jeremy Raff

After a long time, I see, first I catch sight of Jodi, and she's walking next to a woman in a sort of starched blue button up with the BCFS logo on it. And then next to her is a really little boy, like smaller than I thought he was going to look like, holding Anita's hand. And the four of them are walking out.

Nadia Reiman

I've seen a bunch of videos and photos online of parents being reunited with their kids, grabbing them like a life raft while the kid looks confused and far away. But they usually stop here. I'd never really heard what happens next, once the parents and kids are left trying to figure out how to be with each other again after weeks of not knowing where the other slept or ate, or when they were coming back. Jeremy is with Anita and Jenri while all of this is happening.

Jeremy Raff

They walk up to Jodi's truck and they open the door, and like, you know, Jodi has a kid the same age as this little boy, and so she brought some of his toys along and they're in the back seat. And so he's like checking out these little monster trucks that Jodi brought for him.

Jenri

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Nadia Reiman

He's saying, toys, toys.

Anita

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Jeremy Raff

She's like, we're here, we came for you, are you excited? And he's sort of like information overload at this point.

Jenri

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Nadia Reiman

He's telling her that he brought her water. He's saying, mommy, I brought you water for you to drink too.

Jeremy Raff

Yeah, he brought his mom little gifts. He brought her water. He brought her a little bracelet he was really proud of that he gave her as a gift. And then he had a little watch on that he was super proud of all day, a little Superman watch that lights up with like, you know, blinking. He's like trying to put this little watch on his mom's wrist. We stopped by this gas station, and Jodi kind of buys Jenri some treats, I think trying to make him feel like a regular kid again.

Anita

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Jenri

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Anita

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Jeremy Raff

I'm crammed in the backseat with Anita and Jenri in the car seat. He's got a little car seat for little kids. And Anita just turns to him and starts asking him all about what happened after they were separated.

Anita

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Jenri

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Jodi Goodwin

So Anita's asking him like, where did they go, where did they take Jenri after they were separated. And Jenri's telling her her

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

Jeremy Raff

--icebox, you know you sleep on a little mattress on the ground with a space blanket.

Nadia Reiman

So Anita's asking him if there were lots of kids with him, and he says that he was cold, and so he turns and he says to someone, teacher, I'm cold, can I have a blanket. And that person, who I'm guessing is probably like an ICE officer or something, or a--

Jeremy Raff

Border patrol agent.

Nadia Reiman

Someone there tells them, no, not yet. And then when they finally give him a blanket, Jenri's saying that he shared it with another kid. And his mom is like you shared it with another child. And he says, yep. And she says, that's really good, sweetie.

Jeremy Raff

Yeah, I mean, this is her first time seeing him, and I think she's just looking at him, trying to imagine what he's been through while she has not been able to be there with him.

Anita

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Jenri

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Nadia Reiman

Anita's struggling, But Jenri seemed like he was doing just fine. He had chocolate. He was surrounded by toys. The next step was for them to get on a plane to go stay with a relative in another part of the US, while their asylum case was being processed. But it's a small town. There aren't a lot of flights. So they go to a shelter run by Catholic charity, where they can spend the night. When they get there, Jenri is taking in every bit of his mom's attention like a sponge.

Jeremy Raff

They're like in a little dorm room at this shelter, and they're just sort of reacclimating. They're like in a bunk bed, just, she's tickling Jenri, they're talking. They're sort of like reacquainting themselves.

Nadia Reiman

So there's this thing that happens. In Spanish, there's two ways of saying, I love you. There's te quiero, which means, I little love you. Like, I love you, but it's for things that are not necessarily permanent. And then there's te amo, which is like, I love you, love you, for like, I love you with a capital L, and that's for things that don't ever go away. And you do not throw a te amo around, but you can say like, te quiero, like a little bit is here.

Anita

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Nadia Reiman

And so Anita is telling Jenri, she's like, guess what. And he's like, te quiero. And she's like, no, te amo. So she's like no, I really love you.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Nadia Reiman

And he kind of giggles and he's like, te queiro, like, I little love you.

Jenri

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Anita

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Jeremy Raff

That went on late into the evening. But then, around 11:00 PM, things took a bit of a turn. Jenri was still really excited and wasn't going to sleep anytime soon. And one of the nuns came in to kind of settle everyone down, make sure they had everything they needed, you know, for the next day, leaving. And Jenri's like running all over the place, right, in this little room. And he eventually reaches for the TV, almost like he's going to rip the TV off the wall, so this nun says, oh, don't touch that, you know.

Nadia Reiman

At the shelter, it was actually sisters, not nuns.

Jeremy Raff

And he just starts repeating, don't touch, no touching. No touching, no touching, over and over again.

Jenri

No touch, no touch, no touch! No touch!

Sister

OK, I think it's time [INAUDIBLE] so we can take him out of here.

Jenri

[SPEAKING SPANISH] [CRYING]

Jeremy Raff

No touch, no touch, no touch. And you know, while he was saying that, I said, hey, where'd you learn how to say that in English, you know, because he doesn't speak English. And he said, over there where I was, in the shelter.

Nadia Reiman

We don't actually know a lot of details about what happened to Jenri at BCFS, but that's one of the rules some of the shelters have. You can't touch other kids. The sister told Jeremy she thought Jenri was afraid he was going to be taken away from his mom again.

Jeremy Raff

And then after things calmed down, about an hour later, I spoke with Anita, and I ran, you know, what I saw by her, and she told me that that's exactly what she thought happened too.

Anita

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Nadia Reiman

Anita says, Jenri told her, I am not your son anymore. He said that he didn't want to sleep there. He said the lady, the sister, was a bad lady too.

Jeremy Raff

The next morning, I met them at the shelter, and Jenri was fine again. I mean, they said bye to everyone. He hugged that nun, that same nun that scared him so much. He was back to being a regular kid, and Jodi drove them to the airport. And it was both of their first time on an airplane, and when we got up into the air, they were looking out the window from the plane, and Anita's telling Jenri, see the river down there, remember when we crossed the river. Remember that. And look down there, that's where mom was in the detention center. And they were leaving that behind for the moment.

Ira Glass

Jeremy Raft with The Atlantic. He's making a documentary about this story. You can watch the trailer at theatlantic.com. Nadia Reiman is a producer for our show.

You may remember a few weeks ago, we did a story about another lawyer in Texas, Rochelle Garza, who's trying to get her client out of detention and reunite him with his 12-year-old daughter. Just the other day, we heard from them. She was finally able to get the dad out of custody, and he went out to pick up his daughter at the shelter she was at. They're together now and still in this country.

Coming up, a whole part of ICE that does not want to be part of ICE, and what in the world do they do. That's in a minute on Chicago Public Radio when our program continues.

It's This American Life, I'm Ira Glass. Today's show, ICE Capades We have two stories today about the agency, US immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE is such a big agency and does so many things, prosecutes criminals, goes after terrorists, detains tens of thousands of immigrants. Sometimes, one part of the agency is actually at odds with the other parts. You see that in this next act of our program.

Act Two: The Iceman Cometh

Ira Glass

Act Two, The Iceman Cometh. Miki Meek has this story of two brothers who tried to turn the tables on somebody who was doing some pretty bad stuff to them. The way that ICE is involved will become clear as this unfolds. Here's Miki.

Miki Meek

Back in 2012, Christina Corbaci had this meeting that was totally standard, something she'd done hundreds of times, that turned into something she'd never experienced. She's an immigration lawyer in Boston. Two brothers came in, Brigido and Walter, originally from Guatemala. They were living in the US without papers.

Christina Corbaci

I think they came in to talk about one of the brothers in particular, to find out what he and his wife, whether they had any options.

Miki Meek

It didn't look good. He and his wife both had deportation orders. Christina told them.

Christina Corbaci

I doubt that there's any concrete real options for you to legalize your status right now. And then I remember them saying, OK, well, now that we've sort of gotten through this, we want to tell you why we're really here.

Miki Meek

It was a test, and she passed. The brothers wanted to see if Christina would be honest about their chances. There's a whole world of people who prey on undocumented immigrants, tell them they can get them legal status when their cases are impossible. It's just a way to take their money. Because Christina passed the test, they spilled out the real reason why they were there. It was about an immigration official named Patria Zuniga. She worked for US citizenship and Immigration Services out of their Miami office. They met her through a friend, who said great things about Patria.

Patria got her legal documents to travel out of the country in return. Patria was helping her whole family get green cards. So they called, and from that first conversation on the phone, Walter said she seemed super competent.

Walter

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

She was familiar with my immigration case. She mentioned the number of times that I had entered the US with a visa. She knew how many times my wife had applied for TPS.

Miki Meek

TPS stands for temporary protected status. It's a humanitarian program.

Walter

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

And that gave me trust that she was going to help me.

Miki Meek

Patria told them their families were eligible for a particular category of green cards, and that she could help fast track their paperwork. But there'd be a cost, $7,000 for the children, and between $10,000 and $11,000 for each adult. The numbers didn't seem crazy to Brigido. They had lots of fines and violations to clear. But it'd be hard for them to pay all that money upfront. Brigido was a truck driver, and Walter worked construction and ran a small computer repair business. So Patria agreed to let them pay in installments. They used all their savings and started borrowing from family and friends.

And Patria actually drove out to pick up the payments in person. They liked her. She moved here from the Dominican Republic, and became a citizen herself. She came across as smart and confident, but also warm and down to earth, a real family person. She was in her late 40s, and sometimes she brought her two older daughters and grandkid. Patria told Brigido and Walter their green cards should be ready within three to six months, but then she said they hit some delays and extra fees. Patria would tell them, I'm going to need another $200 for mailing. Oh no, this fine came up on your file. That'll be another $1500.

They asked for receipts. She said she'd send them and never did. Then she started disappearing for weeks at a time before suddenly popping back up. Once, she told Walter that she'd had a heart attack.

Walter

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

But as soon as she got out of the hospital, she was going to Miami right away to get the papers.

Miki Meek

They start to wonder if she's ever going to deliver, if they've been scammed. Months drag on. It was hard to talk about this with anyone. They felt ashamed for dragging their families into this. Walter had even referred one of his friends to Patria.

Walter

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

I felt uncomfortable with myself, because I thought, how could I have fallen for this.

Miki Meek

Patria's phone calls became more aggressive and threatening. She tells them, if they don't turn in all the money fast, she'll cancel their applications. She'll tell ICE agents where they live. Walter refuses to give her money. Brigido still holds out hope that she'll deliver. Going to the police didn't feel like an option, because they were undocumented. Here's Walter.

Walter

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

She says, look, If you report me, you're going to be sorry your entire life, because I have but to snap my fingers to deport you or to have you disappeared. I kept turning it over and over in my mind, and I said to myself, there's no way out. You failed.

Miki Meek

He and his wife both started to crack from stress. One day, driving on the highway, he blacked out, barely pulled over in time. All along, they were paying Patria in mostly cash. Walter said she told them straight out that the money was for bribes. She said she and her bosses in Miami had been helping people out like this for 15 years.

Walter says this would be totally normal back home in Guatemala, but his brother Brigido, he understood the payments differently. He thought these were real government fees, though after more than a year, he was fed up. He was out nearly $34,000. Walter was out $28,000. The two of them, they're very different personalities. Walter's talkative, wears his long hair in a ponytail. He used to teach at a university in Guatemala, and uses lots of big words when he speaks. Instead of saying, we had to clear our heads, he'll say we were oxygenating our minds.

Brigido's more reserved, quieter, but more of a leader. He's the older brother, and it's Brigido who decided to start an investigation. He found a guy named Rolando, who was sure Patria was about to deliver his papers. He just had to make one last payment.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

He still owed about $7,000 to Patria. And I asked him, would he be willing for us to try to come up with some evidence. And he said yes, and he asked me how to do this. So I said for him not to deliver cash, but money orders.

Miki Meek

He had Rolando go to the post office and purchase seven separate money orders, each for $1,000. He then sent them to Patria.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

They should have been cashed by immigration, but instead, her daughters cashed them, and even she cashed in a money order. So that made it quite clear that this was a swindle.

Miki Meek

Next, Brigido called a meeting in Worcester, where he lives. It's about an hour west of Boston, and has a big Central American community. He put out word through other undocumented immigrants in town that anyone who'd been in touch with Patria should meet him at a public park.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

And there were about 40 people who showed up to this meeting in a park.

Miki Meek

This was the moment he realized her scam was much bigger than just him and his brother.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

I myself was surprised because I met people that I'd never seen before. Everyone was afraid. We were all afraid. And at that moment, I felt a lot of contempt for her, for what she had done.

Miki Meek

One woman said she lost $80,000. Other people had taken out high interest loans, second mortgages, or drained their kids' college funds to pay Patria. Lots of them met her the same way the brothers had, through one of their good friends in Worcester, a woman named Nubi Melendez, who was really close to Patria. People dropped off envelopes of cash for Patria at Nubi's house. Brigido purposely kept her in the dark about the meeting. He figured she was in on the scam.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

I said we were all victims of Patria, that there was no doubt about it at that point, and that no one should hand over any more money, because it was a swindle. And I wanted to know who would be willing to pursue this to its final consequences. Everyone said they were.

Miki Meek

When you say final consequences, what did that mean?

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

That she might carry out her threats to report us to immigration and have us deported.

Miki Meek

Sure, it was dangerous to go after a corrupt immigration official. But by that point, the feeling was, so what. Patria had all their information. She was probably going to get them deported anyway. Again, here's Walter.

Walter

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

I was not going to stay silent. I was going to find a way for that woman to pay for what she had done, because what was the worst that could happen. We'd be deported to Guatemala. Well, we came to a point where we said, it doesn't matter.

Miki Meek

And so this is how days later, Brigido and Walter landed in Christina Corbachi's office. At that meeting at the park, everyone decided Brigido should find a lawyer to talk to. People started calling him Don Brigido as a sign of their respect. So he and Walter went online to research law firms. They chose Christina's because they saw that her boss was a retired immigration judge, they trusted that someone like him would know how to report Patria. His name is William Joyce, and he did have a thought for Christina.

Christina Corbaci

He was like, hmm, why don't we call ICE.

Miki Meek

ICE is in a federal building right across the street from the firm in downtown Boston.

Christina Corbaci

And that was like the last thing I would have thought of, because to me, that was like, oh, yeah, let's, you know, call ICE on these people who are undocumented.

Miki Meek

Who just showed up because they trusted you. I mean, when he said that, what was going through your head, when he said that?

Christina Corbaci

Like, oh, I don't know about that. I guess my first thought was, like, well, what about the police, right, local police.

Miki Meek

It just didn't seem that there was any possible way that going directly to ICE, the agency best known for arresting, detaining, and deporting undocumented immigrants, would end well for Brigido and Walter. Even if they got Patria fired and all their money back, wouldn't ICE have to deport them? But then Christina's boss told her about a separate division within ICE that most people have never heard of, Homeland Security investigations, or HSI. ICE has two big branches. There's the side that does deportations, and then there's this other branch, HSI, which does other kinds of criminal investigations broadly having to do with national security.

They go after human trafficking, money laundering, MS-13, child pornography, and anyone messing with the immigration system. Last year, they were in the news for helping capture the drug lord, El Chapo. HSI is actually the second largest investigative agency after the FBI, with more than 6,000 special agents. Anyway, Christina's boss knew some people at HSI and told her, we don't need to give them any personal details now. Let me just reach out. And HSI, they got back to them, said sure, we'll send an agent over. Remember, they're right across the street.

Christina Corbaci

I didn't know whether I could trust them. I mean, logically it seemed like we should be able to. But it's almost like we were delivering them into their hands.

Miki Meek

And then, are you guys, is there any formal assurances you're getting from ICE? Does anything get signed?

Christina Corbaci

It was all verbal.

Miki Meek

That's so nerve wracking.

Christina Corbaci

Yeah.

Miki Meek

The agency promised that they didn't care about anyone's immigration status. They just wanted to get more information about Patria's crime. Still, the very idea of meeting with ICE scared off most people from the park. Out of that group of 40, only five or six other people said they'd show up with Walter and Brigido. The brothers were terrified too. Walter had overstayed his visa, and Brigido had a deportation order. Their wives decide to skip it. So Brigido, Walter and the others showed up early for the meeting.

They sat waiting around a giant conference room table, swiveling nervously in leather chairs on wheels. And then an agent from HSI walked in and introduced himself, a scruffy guy in t-shirt and jeans.

Robert Rice

Special Agent Robert Rice. I'm an agent with the document and benefit fraud task force.

Miki Meek

Agent Rice told me he agreed to the meeting with the lowest possible expectations. Normally, he did a lot of financial crimes and identity fraud, complex schemes where people were forging documents and lying to the government. He had never done a case like this, and when he strolled in, he didn't actually expect to find people there.

Robert Rice

I've never seen anything like it. These were for the most part, undocumented aliens. They don't come running to law enforcement, especially Homeland Security investigations. So this was completely-- and I've been doing this for 21 years now, so I was just so curious, wanting to see who were these people, and what did they have to say.

Miki Meek

What are you doing to put people at ease?

Robert Rice

I began my career as a border patrol agent in Douglas, Arizona. So I think I know what was going through their heads. I thought they were afraid of me. Now, I wanted to, right off the bat I wanted to end that.

Miki Meek

So in some pretty bad Spanish, he attempted to make a joke about ICE, although he couldn't remember the Spanish for me.

Robert Rice

I was like, you know, we're not coming here, we're not parking the vans out front. We're not going to stand there with nets trying to jump you and drag you out of the country. And everyone laughed at that.

Miki Meek

Again, here is Brigido.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

We all laughed.

Miki Meek

It's such a weird scene.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

Well, it was a surprise, but at the same time, it broke the ice.

Miki Meek

The agent from ICE broke the ice.

Brigido

Yeah.

Miki Meek

Agent Rice's job is to enforce the laws on the books. A crime is a crime, no matter the legal status of the victims. He told them--

Robert Rice

I don't care what your status is, I'm here to help you. I want to know, just tell me what happened to you, what are the allegations you're making. And that's how we proceeded.

Miki Meek

What kind of assurances can you give and can you not give to a group of people like this?

Robert Rice

We never promise anything, but none of these people had criminal records, and so I had prosecutorial discretion to not enforce immigration laws.

Miki Meek

He says he still has this discretion today, even though so much has changed in the agency under President Trump and so many more people are being deported. That first meeting at the law firm was short, less than an hour, and Rice says he purposely kept it informal. He didn't even write down names, in case it spooked anyone. But he did want Brigido, Walter and the others to know they could trust him. So he took out his HSI badge and passed it around the table. Walter remembers holding it and and Rice telling them--

Walter

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

Take it. Feel it. Examine it. This is legal. Did she show you something like that? And I said no.

Miki Meek

Brigido and Rolando showed Rice the money order receipts. Rice was impressed, but it wasn't enough for a federal case. He needed way more evidence. And he needed to understand the extent of the crime. Fairly quickly, he was able to verify that Patria did not work for US Citizenship and Immigration Services, in Miami or anywhere else. She was an imposter. All that paperwork she was supposed to be filing for them, none of it existed in the system. Walter and Brigido were outraged and embarrassed that they'd been tricked so badly.

Agent Rice visited Patria, who denied knowing any of the victims, said she didn't know what they were talking about. Next, Rice needed to track down as many victims as he could. The fact that most people paid in cash was a huge hurdle for the case. He hoped he'd find someone who saved some kind of corroborating documentation, contracts, receipts, bank deposit slips, tax, e-mails, audio recordings, and that they'd talk to him.

Robert Rice

So there was no record trail, and that was the scariest part. It's just, a lot of it we couldn't prove. And I was literally chasing people all over the place. They wouldn't answer my phone calls, wouldn't answer the door. Wanted nothing to do with me. You feel the tension, and that was constant. That was tough.

Miki Meek

They look at you as being like, you are too big of a threat for me to get into this.

Robert Rice

They're still afraid of me as an immigration officer. The fear of being deported and being separated from their family outweighed any benefit that they thought they could've received.

Miki Meek

This is why it's so hard to crack down on scammers who victimize undocumented immigrants. They're the perfect victims, desperate for help and not likely to go to law enforcement, much less stick around for years to testify at a trial. So these scams are pervasive. Rice held two more meetings at the law office, and more people from the park showed up. And Rice asked Brigido and Walter to reach out to the other people they knew, and call them right before he did.

Robert Rice

And they would say like, no, he's helping us, he's not arresting anybody. So they really helped me. They really opened the door for me, and this whole subculture of Worcester, of this Central American community. I depended on them, just little things that couldn't have been accomplished by myself.

Miki Meek

This was the beginning of an unlikely partnership, a partnership that was improbable then and even more improbable now. ICE, the agency that in the last months has been part of the zero tolerance policy, the agency that immigration activists are now calling to be abolished completely, they were going to team up with a group of undocumented immigrants. Brigido told me there were lots of people who didn't want an ICE agent to stop by their house and sit in their living room, who didn't want to set foot in ICE's office in Boston. So Brigido organized a workaround. It was a hair salon in Worcester. The owner was also a victim, and said sure. You can use my place. Rice met with people there.

Robert Rice

Initially, she would close it up, and we would all meet in the back. And then later on, I mean, next thing, I became close to-- everyone knew me. The whole street knew who I was. And they'd still be cutting hair or doing dyes, or doing nails, and I'd be meeting people in the back. I'm making it convenient for them. I mean, this is my job. I have all day. I had all day, almost like 900 days in a row, I was driving back and forth to Worcester and wherever.

Miki Meek

For 2 and 1/2 years, he met people at construction sites and fast food joints when they were on breaks from their jobs, other times in random parking lots. Walter and Brigido didn't know lots of the victims, so Rice had to cold call them.

Robert Rice

Knock on the door, hi, how you doing, with a badge. And it's instant. You only have a short window to--

Miki Meek

How short?

Robert Rice

Well, you're talking minutes, I mean, to be, don't worry, you know, I'm not here-- You know, when you're doing this to somebody, and they're undocumented, and I was like, I explained to them, I'm not here for your immigration status. I want to talk to you about, were you a victim of this person, did you give this person money. When you said Patria's Zuniga to these people, that was for a second at least, I mean, you could see it in their eyes, and they knew where I was going. It seems, kind of more often than not, really, they're willing to talk. They wanted to talk.

And you know, the first thing that struck me was, they're all over the place. They're in Worcester, they're in Lynn, they're in parts of Boston, they're in Framingham. We're talking hundreds of square miles where they were located, and the stories never changed. If one person said, I met them on this occasion, and this is how much money. I mean, the money amount never changed. The dates never changed. Everything was consistent. And that goes towards trustworthiness as far as I'm concerned.

Miki Meek

Still, he wasn't getting much hard documentary evidence. If Patria had filed fraudulent green card applications with the government, they could charge her with immigration fraud, but her scheme never went that far. So he had to look for a financial crime. But this was tough, because Patria had no bank account. Her two daughters did, and Rice did see a lot of cash deposits, but he couldn't trace them back to specific payments that immigrants made to Patria.

Robert Rice

I spent so much time tracking people down, and they dug through their records and their memories, and at the end of the day, they weren't good witnesses because they had nothing but, they were just telling me that, you know, they gave money to her.

Miki Meek

They had nothing, they didn't have a receipt for you. They didn't have any documentation.

Robert Rice

No documentation.

Miki Meek

There was one person in particular Rice wanted to get to, the woman who people saw as Patria's co-conspirator, Nubi Melendez. Her house was like a base for Patria in Worcester. Patria met with people there. She told people to leave their money with Nubi when she couldn't come to town. When it came time to confront Nubi, Agent Rice went to her house and sat in the driveway and waited.

Robert Rice

She was just coming back. She just picked up her daughter from school and she was walking home. And then all of the sudden, there's HSI agents in your driveway. And I was like, I'd like to ask some questions about Patria Zuniga.

Nubi Melendez

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Miki Meek

This is Nubi.

Interpreter

And they said, are you Nubi Melendez. My heart jumped out of me, practically.

Miki Meek

Who did you think he was?

Nubi Melendez

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

I don't know. His appearance had lots of tattoos.

Robert Rice

I'm not the tall white guy with a flat top wearing the suit, and you can see I'm unshaven.

Miki Meek

You got a goatee.

Robert Rice

I have tattoos. My government car's a Saturn. Basically, a soccer mom car. I want to look like just the guy on the street.

Miki Meek

I got to admit, I was amused when Nubi told me that his guy on the street strategy backfired with her at first.

Nubi Melendez

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

To me, he looked like a bad guy, a bad dude, but he's everything but that. Little by little, he started gaining our trust.

Miki Meek

Turns out, Nubi was not Patria's partner in crime. She, like all the others, was being ripped off.

Robert Rice

I mean, at the end of the day, she was a victim probably more so than anybody else. Because not only did she lose all of her money, she lost all of her friends.

Miki Meek

Patria had used Nubi as a launch pad to get to all her family and friends in Worcester. They had met through a coworker at McDonald's, and they got really close, or Nubi thought so, anyway. Patria came to her family parties, called all the time just to check in, and visited Nubi in the hospital when she was sick. Nubi had even started thinking about making her the godmother of her son, which is why she felt comfortable introducing her to so many people in Worcester. And the reason Nubi was collecting envelopes of cash for Patria, she told Rice it was because Patria had asked her to. Said, if you do me this favor, I'll give your family a good discount on her fees.

So Nubi did it. But like the others, Nubi's family never got the green cards from Patria they were promised. One time, they seemed really close. Patria told her, the one for your little sister Alba is ready. Just come up to the immigration office in Boston and pick it up. Nubi and the whole family got dressed up, drove up to the office and waited outside like Patria had instructed them. Someone was supposed to come get them. Here's Nubi's little sister Alba. She was in high school at the time.

Alba

We were there from the afternoon until I remember it being dark, and I'm like, we're still waiting here. I just kept, call her, call her, what's going on. But she don't answer.

Miki Meek

So she never showed up that day.

Alba

No, she never showed up.

Miki Meek

Patria did this to other people too. One guy actually flew all the way out to the immigration office in Chicago, and the same thing. No one showed up. As always, Patria had an excuse. But Alba, the teenager, was done. Obama had just signed the executive order that created DACA, and because Alba had been brought into the country when she was just a kid, she was eligible. Patria told her not to apply.

Alba

She told me, if you go for that, that I could possibly be deported because I'm already filing paperwork that's already ending, and me starting another paperwork could cause a problem. So I'm like, I'm not changing my mind. I'm filing for it, and I don't care. Alba did get DACA status, and right away, her family saw a big difference from the way things had been going with Patria. There were regular updates from the US government, official documents arriving in the mail, things they never got from Patria.

So when Agent Rice showed up at their house, Alba and Nubi were more than willing to help.

Nubi Melendez

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

I knew that I had to say what had happened even if it had been bad. I had to say how it had happened.

Miki Meek

She says the guilt was intense. People were shunning her in town, and calling her all the time to yell at her. She switched to English here.

Nubi Melendez

Everything he needed, I had to find it.

Miki Meek

Nubi became a central witness, and she gave Rice some important leads. One time when Rice was at her house, Nubi's phone rang, and it was Patria. Rice had a recording device with him, and so they taped the call. Brigido also started taping calls and giving them to Rice. In this call, Patria is pushing Brigido's wife for more money. Patria talks to her, though, like she's her friend, just trying to help her out.

Patria Zuniga

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Miki Meek

She's saying, I know how much this means to you, and it would hurt me to see you throw it all away now after you've come so far.

Patria Zuniga

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Miki Meek

Patria insinuates that Nubi is the one taking everyone's payments for herself. She says in a confidential tone, I don't trust Nubi.

Patria Zuniga

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Miki Meek

Nubi, Brigido and Walter all said one of the scariest parts of the investigation was having to keep up a front so long with Patria. They were told not to confirm her suspicions that she was the target of a federal investigation, not while Agent Rice was still gathering evidence. And so when Patria harassed them and threatened them, they had to just play along, telling her, we just need a little more time to get the money. No, we're not helping law enforcement. To finally indict Patria, Rice and government prosecutors needed to present their evidence to multiple grand juries.

He delivered subpoenas to Brigido, Nubi, and Walter, who was in the middle of working a job at a construction site when he pulled up. They all knew this was coming. Rice reminded them, this wasn't a suggestion. This was a court order. This was real. Rice said some of the government attorneys he was working with at the time thought this might be the moment when their case would fall apart.

Robert Rice

The first prosecutor, she did not believe they were going to show up. She thought they were all going to disappear. Undocumented aliens do not have a long track record of showing up for grand jury, and that was always, always, that was constant. Are they going to disappear? Can we maintain this relationship? Can I maintain this relationship?

Miki Meek

Brigido had to trust him too. When he got the subpoena, he had a talk with his wife and kids about what might happen.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

Well, as a joke, I said that if I didn't come back, we'd see each other over there.

Miki Meek

Over there meeting in Guatemala.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

But in a more serious way, the sentiment was that everything might suddenly flip, and we'd all be arrested.

Miki Meek

It's hard to overstate how weird this whole thing was for them. They trusted Agent Rice. They knew he'd wait outside the courthouse and walk them in. But Brigido told me they still had this fear that Patria might actually have some connections in immigration. Maybe it was a trap.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

On the other hand, there was courage, because that woman, when we recalled everything she had stolen from us, we felt renewed courage to push ahead so that she would pay the consequences.

Robert Rice

They went into the grand jury room by themselves, and they sat there by themselves. They did it. I can't say enough. I was proud of them.

Miki Meek

The grand jury voted yes for federal prosecutors to move forward with investigating fraud charges against Patria Zuniga. And Rice had other breakthroughs. He subpoenaed a ton of financial records, and found the names of new victims, people who paid through Western Union or bank deposits rather than cash like so many others, and who actually saved their receipts. Rice finally had what he needed to make a proper paper trail.

Robert Rice

All of the he said, she said, became, good god, look at the amounts of money. That's when, you know, the light bulb, the proverbial light bulb went off, and I was like wow, this is real.

Miki Meek

The total amount Patria stole was startling, more than $700,000. And that was just from the victims who were willing to come forward. Even more surprising is where the money went. Patria, it turns out, was a huge gambler. There were records of her losing over $175,000 on slot machines at a Rhode Island casino. The rest of it was spent by her daughters on vacations, cell phone bills, Dunkin' Donuts. Nobody was getting their money back. In fact, lots of them are still paying off bank loans and relatives they'd borrowed from.

Agent Rice and his team went in for the arrest. Rice says if she was surprised, she didn't show it.

Robert Rice

You know, I went over and knocked on the door, and the door opens, and Patria's standing there, and she looks at me and she goes, hello, Rice. [LAUGHS] Just like that.

Miki Meek

She pled guilty to eight counts of federal wire fraud. That's eventually what they got her on. Her daughters were arrested too. Probably the most moving day of this whole story came on June 28, 2016, the day that Patria Zuniga was finally sentenced, about four years after Brigido and the others met up in the park and decided to take her down. It happened in the federal courthouse in Worcester, the epicenter for the whole thing.

The assistant US attorney who prosecuted the case, Jordi de Llano, encouraged them to come to the sentencing. If they wanted, they could stand up in court and read a statement to the judge, explaining how much Patria had harmed them. The judge is allowed to take that into consideration when deciding the sentence.

Robert Rice

Around 8:00 in the morning, I started getting calls from downstairs saying there are a lot of people here that don't speak English. And I went downstairs and I was taken aback. I was floored with how many people showed up. It was the victims, their family members. They brought children. They brought babies.

Miki Meek

In total, 57 people, almost all undocumented or with temporary status, agreed to have their names listed as victims for the government. I wasn't allowed to record in the courthouse, but I was there for this, and the scene was powerful. Families streamed in dressed up in pressed white shirts, slacks and skirts, carrying with them statements that they'd prepared in advance. Teenagers came to speak on behalf of their parents in English.

Robert Rice

They came to support each other as well as to share their stories. That was a packed house. It was standing room only, I think, in that courtroom, and it went on for about eight hours. It was moving in the sense that I know how difficult it was for them to come and speak.

Miki Meek

There were people in the courtroom that Brigido had never met before. He told me that seeing so many people who'd fallen for Patria's scheme in one place, it helped take away some of the shame and embarrassment about what had happened. Patria sat at a table in front of them wearing a blue jumpsuit and looking down at the ground. The judge asked her if she wanted to give a statement. She stood up. She asked for forgiveness from the court and her family.

But when it became clear that she wasn't going to ask forgiveness from all the victims sitting right behind her, her lawyer jumped in and cut her off. The judge sentenced Patria to six and a half years. The daughters were later sentenced to almost three years. Brigido and Walter wished they'd all gotten more.

I asked the brothers and Nubi, if Patria's crime had happened to them today, would they still work with ICE. They said they'd think twice about it, but yeah, they'd do it again. They're not so sure how many others would come forward, though. Here's Brigido.

Brigido

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

If it were today, it would be difficult, because people wouldn't have the same degree of trust they had before. It's a different point in time, and things don't seem the same, don't look the same, as years ago.

Miki Meek

This is a point top agents in Rice's division, Homeland Security Investigations, is making today, too. Last month, around the same time protests over the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy at the border erupted around the country, the head of 19 different regional offices from HSI sent a letter to Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security. They basically asked for a divorce from ICE. They don't want to be associated with deportations anymore. It's making it too hard for them to do their jobs.

They wrote, quote, "the perception of HSI's investigative independence is unnecessarily impacted by the political nature of ERO's civil immigration enforcement." ERO is enforcement and removal operations. Many jurisdictions continue to refuse to work with HSI because of a perceived linkage to the politics of civil immigration.

When this case ended, everyone had to revert back to their original roles. Rice, after all, was an ICE agent. He says it's not really appropriate for him to socialize with anyone who's undocumented outside of an investigation.

Robert Rice

To be honest with you, I was a little sad. It was a big part of my life for a long time, and it's now over. I got used to constant back and forth to Worcester. As time evolved, we joked around. They made fun of me. They teased me. I teased them. It really was a friendship, you know. They opened up their heart, their lives to me, and who am I, I'm just a government hack.

Miki Meek

And how would you describe your relationship with Brigido and Walter?

Robert Rice

I love them both. I mean, two great guys, and I can never thank them enough. And I really hope to God that at some point, they legalize their status so we can continue a relationship. And that's my hope.

Miki Meek

Again, here's Walter. He and most of the others went back to living under the radar. He got choked up talking about Rice.

Walter

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

I consider him a great friend. When we bid each other farewell in the courtroom--

Walter

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Interpreter

He said, I'm really happy to have known you and to meet people like you. And it fills me with sadness to know that there are evil people who do things like these things to you. And there have been times when I've wanted to call Agent Rice, but I haven't, because I'm waiting for the results.

Miki Meek

He means the result of a special visa he's applying for. Walter and Brigido and their wives, and Nubi also, they may actually get the thing they were hoping for when they first met Patria. They've applied for a U visa. It's for people who help law enforcement investigate certain qualifying crimes. If they get it, it could lead to a green card. But there's no guarantees. There's a huge backlog of people trying to get U visas. The process takes years, and things feel pretty precarious these days. In fact, at the end of last month, a policy memo was issued saying that if the government decides to turn down their applications, or even find things it considers mistakes, it can start deportation proceedings against them.

Ira Glass

Miki Meek is one of the producers of our show.

Credits

Ira Glass

Our program was produced today by Diane Wu. People who helped make our show today, Elna Baker, Zoe Chace, Sean Cole, Whitney Dangerfield, Neil Drumming, Damien Grave, Michelle Harris, David Kestenbaum, Adam Martin, Miki Meek, Catherine Rae Mondo, Stowe Nelson, Nadia Reiman, Robyn Semien, Louis Sullivan, Chritopher Swetala, and Matt Tierney. Our senior producer is Brian Reed. Our managing editor is Susan Burton. Editing help from Julia Preston. Special thanks to our interpreters, Daniel Scherr and Catalina Maria Johnson.

To Cheryl David, Vice News Tonight, Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, Ashley Kenney, Jeff Goldberg, Jennifer Cameron, Matthew Blaisdell, Annie Schaufele, Ayuda, and Virginia Lora. This is the last week that we're working with Alvin Melathe. He has done such a great job here at so many things. Alvin, I will say, we will always have Lancaster. This American Life is delivered to public radio stations by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. Thanks as always to our program's co-founder, Mr. Torey Malatia You know, whenever he and I get Chinese food, when it arrives at the table, he gets so excited, and always says the same thing.

Robert Rice

Hello, rice.

Ira Glass

I'm Ira Glass. Back next week with more stories of This American Life.