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John Burnett

As NPR's Southwest correspondent based in Austin, Texas, John Burnett covers immigration, border affairs, Texas news and other national assignments. In 2018 and again in 2019, he won a national Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for continuing coverage of the immigration beat. In December 2018, Burnett was invited to participate in a workshop on Refugees, Immigration and Border Security in Western Europe, sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission.

Though he is assigned to the National Desk, his beat has sometimes stretched around the world.

He has filed stories from more than 30 countries since joining NPR in 1986. In 2012, he spent five months in Nairobi as the East Africa Correspondent, followed by a stint during 2013 as the network's religion reporter. His special reporting projects have included working in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina, as an embedded reporter with the First Marine Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and continuing coverage of the U.S. drug war in the Americas. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Burnett's 2008 groundbreaking four-part series "Dirty Money"—which examined how law enforcement agencies have gotten hooked on and, in some cases, corrupted by seized drug money—won three national awards: a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for Investigative Reporting, a Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists Award for Investigative Reporting, and an Edward R. Murrow Award for the accompanying website. His 2007 three-part series "The Forgotten War," which took a critical look at the nation's 30-year war on drugs, won a Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for Excellence in Reporting on Drug and Alcohol Problems.

In 2006, Burnett's memoir, Uncivilized Beasts & Shameless Hellions: Travels with an NPR Correspondent, was published by Rodale Press. In that year, he also served as an Ethics Fellow at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida.

In 2004, Burnett won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting for his story on the accidental U.S. bombing of an Iraqi village. His work was singled out by judges for the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award honoring the network's overall coverage of the Iraq War. Also in 2003, Burnett won a first place National Headliner Award for investigative reporting about corruption among federal immigration agents on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In the months following the attacks of September 11, Burnett reported from New York City, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. His reporting contributed to coverage that won the Overseas Press Club Award and an Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award.

In 2001, Burnett reported and produced a one-hour documentary, "The Oil Century," for KUT-FM in Austin, which won a silver prize at the New York Festivals. He was a visiting faculty member in broadcast journalism at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in 2002 and 1997. He received a Ford Foundation Grant in 1997 for a special series on sustainable development in Latin America.

Burnett's favorite stories are those that reveal a hidden reality. He recalls happening upon Carlos Garcia, a Mexico City street musician who plays a musical leaf, a chance encounter that brought a rare and beautiful art form to a national audience. In reporting his series "Fraud Down on the Farm," Burnett spent nine months investigating the abuse of the United States crop insurance system and shining light on surprising stories of criminality.

Abroad, his report on the accidental U.S. Air Force bombing of the Iraqi village of Al-Taniya, an event that claimed 31 lives, helped listeners understand the fog of war. His "Cocaine Republics" series in 2004 was one of the first accounts to detail the emergence of Central America as a major drug smuggling region. But many listeners remember the audio postcard he filed while on assignment in Peshawar, Pakistan, after 9/11 about what it was like being, at six-foot-seven, the "tallest American at a Death-to-Americarally."

Prior to coming to NPR, Burnett was based in Guatemala City for United Press International covering the Central America civil wars. From 1979-1983, he was a general assignment reporter for various Texas newspapers.

Burnett graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

When Tommy Fisher decided he wanted to build his own private border wall in Texas, he said he wanted to keep out trouble from Mexico.

Now that wall has created its own set of troubles on the U.S. side of the border: Engineers warn the structure will wash away in a flood, neighbors want it dismantled, and Fisher is embroiled in lawsuits.

Nonetheless, Fisher and his North Dakota construction company have landed more than $2 billion in contracts to build President Trump's official wall.

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The 10th hurricane of this season is Hurricane Delta. In this era of climate change, the storm is arriving in southwestern Louisiana, which Hurricane Laura hit just six weeks ago. NPR's John Burnett is watching from Lafayette, La. John, good morning.

About 60 Confederate monuments have come down across the U.S. amid a national reckoning on race — but nearly half as many localities that considered removing their statues have decided to keep them.

Since George Floyd's death in May that sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice, there have been votes or decisions to protect 28 monuments, according to an NPR count.

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Some 300,000 immigrants living under protected status here in the U.S. could be forced to leave after a federal appeals court ruling yesterday. NPR's John Burnett has more.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is pledging to dismantle the sweeping changes President Trump has made to the American immigration system, if he wins the White House in November.

But that's easier said than done.

"I don't think it's realistic that Biden in four years could unroll everything that Trump did," says Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.

A priest, a newspaper editor and a mariachi musician — they've all had their work and lives upended in a corner of the country that has been devastated by the coronavirus.

More than 2,000 people in the Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas have perished in the pandemic.

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Trump's massive border wall gets all the buzz.

But U.S. Customs and Border Protection is quietly testing a new generation of free-standing surveillance towers on the Arizona border that could revolutionize border security. The telescoping towers are equipped with infrared and daytime cameras, along with laser range-finders and illuminators that can zoom in on a target miles away for a close-up. They're mounted in the bed of a Ford F-150 pickup, so they're completely mobile and can be operated remotely.

The figure of a young Confederate soldier holding a rifle has gazed out from his pedestal in front of the Harrison County Courthouse in the piney woods of northeast Texas for 114 years.

The 8-foot statue was a gift — like hundreds of others across the South — from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They are memorials to the war dead and, historians say, monuments to white supremacy and Jim Crow laws.

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When Border Patrol agents were dispatched earlier this month to Portland, Oregon, it wasn't the first time they've taken on urban policing far from their duties on the nation's frontiers.

The agents deployed to Los Angeles, for instance, after the Rodney King verdict in 1992. Alongside local police and National Guard, the green-suited border agents were there to quell riots but drew a lot of criticism for also conducting immigration sweeps of people in the country illegally.

The movement for racial justice is toppling statues across America, from Robert E. Lee to Christopher Columbus — and now the Spanish conquistador, Juan de Oñate, the first European to colonize the arid wilderness of New Mexico, the state's first colonial governor and a despot who inflicted misery on Native Americans.

Tensions boiled over recently at a demonstration to remove his statue, where a man seen defending the statue allegedly shot a protester. The confrontation has revealed fault lines over how native and Hispanic history are told.

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It's become known as the Old Town melee. Protesters gathered last month in Albuquerque, N.M., around the bronze statue of Juan de Oñate, the controversial Spanish conquistador, in the city's historic quarter.

Videos of the event show men with guns — in military garb and tactical gear — stationed around the statue, tussling with protesters. Soon, the protesters bring out a chain and pickax to topple the figure, as police watch from afar.

Some of the worst coronavirus outbreaks have occurred at long-term care facilities that now account for more than one-third of all COVID-19 deaths in America. Some states have taken aggressive actions to slow the spread of the virus among residents and workers in nursing homes. Texas formed a strike force to assess problems at its 1,222 nursing homes.

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The federal government is planning to put 69 miles of its massive border wall along the river in Texas' Webb and Zapata counties. When it became clear that the imposing barrier would plow through the center of the proud city of Laredo, a remarkably diverse coalition of wall-haters assembled to fight it.

Folks in black "No Border Wall" T-shirts marched in the streets earlier this year. They share their movement with sedate bankers in starched, white shirts and gray suits who are just as passionate.

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Restaurant doors are cautiously opening again in Texas, but nothing is quite the same with the continuing threat of the pandemic. Eateries have had to get creative to survive, and learn how to protect their customers and staff.

Jerry Morales is the amiable, animated owner of Gerardo's Casita, in Midland, Texas. With menus in hand, he greets customers who are just venturing out after seven long weeks of quarantine.

"Y'all been doing alright, staying safe?" he asks.

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In the endless boom and bust cycle of the oil business, there has never been anything like 2020. The oil patch is reeling from historically low prices. Futures for West Texas Intermediate crude closed at $25 a barrel on Friday, down from more than $60 a barrel at the beginning of the year.

On a normal day in Andrews County, you can look in any direction and see the bobbing horse heads of pump jacks stretching to the horizon, sucking up oil from deep in the Earth. But these are anything but normal days.

With public life paralyzed by the coronavirus shutdown, a sad announcement came last week from a beloved cafe and music venue in Austin, Texas. Threadgill's, the Depression-era beer joint where Janis Joplin got her start — and later a place that fed Austin's appetite for good food and good music — is closing for good.

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President Trump is offering more details now about his plan to temporarily block some immigrants from coming into the United States. Last night, he said a pause of 60 days on green cards for foreigners could help protect jobs for U.S. citizens.

Ten thousand cars waited hours in line for emergency food aid in San Antonio last week. A drone photograph of the packed parking lot went viral. Two thousand more showed up for another distribution today.

These were some of the more than 20 million unemployed Americans, many of them recently laid off because of the pandemic.

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