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Immigration Projects Take Center Stage at Broadcast Networks

Immigration has dominated the headlines of late, and the broadcast networks are taking notice.

The Big 4 are all developing multiple projects that focus on immigrants in one form or another. CBS is developing the comedy “Welcome to Maine,” as Variety previously reported, which follows a ninth-generation Maine family and a recent immigrant and his daughter who must all learn to embrace change when they share the same workplace in a tiny rural town. Greg Garcia serves as executive producer on the project.

Meanwhile, Gina Rodriguez has set up Latino-led series at CBS and The CW. At CBS, drama “Have Mercy” centers around a Latina doctor who is unable to practice when she immigrates to Miami. She begins work as a nurse’s assistant, but risks everything when she opens a makeshift clinic in her apartment to serve the community. At CW, dramedy “Illegal” follows a 16-year-old American high school student named Rafael who discovers he is in fact undocumented.

Variety has also learned that Fox is developing “In the Country We Love,” based on the memoir of the same name by “Orange Is the New Black” star Diane Guerrero. That project was set up at CBS last year, with Guerrero attached to star as an attorney who begins defending undocumented immigrants for free, with Guerrero also attached as an executive producer. CBS ultimately passed on the project, but CBS TV Studios remains attached along with 20th Century Fox TV. It should be noted, of course, that none of these projects have yet to ordered to pilot and are not guaranteed to make it to air.

The development of these projects come as President Donald Trump has made immigration a key issue of his administration. Trump kicked off his campaign for President in June 2015 with a speech in which he referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.” He subsequently campaigned on the promise that he would construct a wall on the United States’ southern border with Mexico, and has made funding the wall a part of his budget negotiations with Congress. Most recently, the Trump administration formally announced that they will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation.

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