Patriotic immigration reformers are used to biased reporting from the MainStream Media [MSM]. But Sunday's Washington Post Page One story sets a new low standard.
The bold type headline in the print edition screams "IN ARIZONA, A STARK CHOICE" [October 10, 2010, by Stephanie McCrummen, (email her)]. Under that headline is a large photo, covering almost half the top of the front page, of a forlorn woman sitting at a window looking out. The caption tells readers exactly where this blubbering blather of a sob story is going to go:
"After Arizona's new immigration law took effect, Viridiana, looking out her apartment window, began spending most of her time inside."
Underneath that photo caption, we read again in bold letters:
"For one illegal immigrant, her American husband and their children, state's new law forces a difficult decision: Stay in hiding, or join an exodus?"
At least WAPO used the correct term, "illegal immigrant" rather than the PC "undocumented immigrant". But from there, the story gets worse.
McCrummen's massive article jumps from its prominent spot on page 1 to page 6 and takes that entire page to detail the pathetic plight of this family. The editors' obvious intent: Kill the Arizona law!
McCrummen's article begins by claiming that supporters of the AZ law "began waving signs – 'Adios, illegals!' Since then, the woman inside the apartment decided the city has become so dangerous for her that it is best to keep hidden inside."
These signs were not waved at her, just somewhere, allegedly. But the tone is set.
Whoa! Why is this woman so stressed? She is legally married to an American citizen. Technically, this might not protect her from deportation, completely, but deportations of non-criminal illegals are rare.
By the way, while a federal judge blocked key parts of SB1070 in July. A federal appeals court hearing is set for Nov. 1.
Of course, Viridiana does have some limited basis for concern.
" 'We are thinking she could go in the back of her uncle's truck— he drives an 18-wheeler,' says the woman's husband, John, a U.S. citizen, suggesting how his wife, Viridiana, who is Mexican and crossed the U.S. border illegally eight years ago, might leave Arizona.
"'I'm scared of that,' says Viridiana, who has a disabled 5-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter.
"'We could all go in the van,' John suggests. 'But then I could be arrested for harboring…'"
Well, what does the Arizona law actually say?
From the Arizona law, S.B.1070:
Requires all legal aliens to carry their federal immigration papers, which is already required under federal law.
Empowers police to determine the immigration status of individuals who they encounter during a lawful encounter and have reasonable suspicion to believe they are illegal aliens.
Requires all people who are arrested to have their immigration status checked.
Experts have noted that the Arizona law is not as strict as the (often unenforced) Federal law. Unenforced laws are more serious than having no law because they encourage contempt for our precious Rule of Law—already badly damaged by the way illegal immigration is ignored.
OK, Viridiana is an illegal alien. But unless she is stopped for a violation, her status is not going to be checked. Married to a US citizen with two children, she is likely to have a favorable chance for adjudication with the help of an immigration lawyer.
This woman is one of at least 11 million illegal aliens estimated to be in the USA. Decades of failure to enforce existing laws by our Federal Government has put all of us under pressure—they take jobs, tax-supported services, crowd our school with children who don't speak English, and exacerbate the congestion that is turning many cities into ever more dangerous dens of violence.
The less informed reader might want to generalize that this lady's situation is a common case, implying that the flood of illegal invasions should continue unabated. McCrummen even implies through her eyes that Arizona is engaging in widespread vigilantism.
"Viridiana hears rumors almost every day: that public bus drivers are asking passengers for papers; that landlords are evicting tenants who can't prove they are citizens; that the sheriff is going to start sweeping for illegal immigrants at Food City, where Viridiana used to shop, or at soccer fields like the one across the street. She worries about every police car she sees, about the air of vigilantism she feels taking hold."
So what does she do?
"For Viridiana, this hoped-for place is a tiny town called Moses Lake, in Washington State, which she knows almost entirely from phone conversations with an aunt who has been urging her to come there since the trouble in Arizona began.
"'She says Washington doesn't have these kinds of problems,' Viridiana says, and for now, this is all she needs to know.
"The rest are questions for a person with few decent options. The back of an 18-wheeler or the van? And what about money? The van would need new tires, repairs, three days of gas, plus hotels and food - at least $2,000, she and John figure, when their only income is a monthly $600 government check that John gets for the boy. And that is if they go.
"If they stay, there is the question of John: He is 55, unemployed and, is by his own account, struggling. His own citizenship cannot confer residency for Viridiana because she came to the United States illegally. He would have to hire a lawyer to sort out her status by proving that her sick son could die without her, a $10,000 long shot that depends partly on the goodwill of a judge."
Migration to another state may seem attractive. But those states could well pass AZ -type statutes, if and when Arizona wins the legal battle. Many are poised to do so.
McCrummen cites the economic hits taken by the Phoenix area, which of course gives her a chance to mention the poster boy for left-wing attacks: Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
"Of all the cities affected by illegal immigration, Phoenix and surrounding Maricopa County stand apart as a place transformed.
"In the past two decades, the Hispanic population doubled, eventually comprising a third of the county's population of 4 million people, many of whom helped build the booming suburbs sprawling into the desert. About 500,000 residents are estimated to be illegal immigrants, mostly Mexicans who moved in with relatives or rented apartments in boxy, pale-colored complexes like Viridiana's that line the city's broad avenues.
"Then the recession hit and Maricopa began topping lists of counties with the most foreclosures, and Arizona began topping lists of states with the biggest budget gaps. And then came the immigration law, which would require police to check the status of people they stop and suspect of being in the U.S. illegally. While lawyers will continue to debate the measure in court, it already has had a practical, even psychological effect."
Things are bad for Americans. And the presence of immigrants, legal and illegal, is not going to make the situation better.
And here's the Sheriff Joe hit (is this true?):
"Among its supporters, there is a sense of moral certitude, a mood championed by the county's sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who has become a national hero to some by vowing to continue his sweeps for illegal immigrants—spectacular events in which deputies fan out into mostly Hispanic neighborhoods, at times wearing ski-type masks. Recently, Arpaio called for a citizen 'enforcement posse,' a force of 500 people who will be outfitted, he said, with their own guns and helicopters.
"This is why, among Hispanic families, the mood is one of nervousness verging at times on paranoia. And why adjustments are being made to hundreds of thousands of complicated lives.
"It is difficult to know exactly how many people have left, but anecdotal evidence is plentiful. Enrollment at predominantly Hispanic schools has dropped; restaurants and groceries that served the city's Hispanic enclaves are closing. People are holding yard sales every weekend—fundraisers, they say, intended to precede their departures. Perhaps the most obvious signs are all the apartment buildings draped with banners—'Three Months Free!' and 'Move-In Special!'—like so many flags across the city, heralding the change."
Hey, if illegal aliens in Arizona and everywhere are nervous, I am not the least sad.
They got here illegally. And now it's time for them to go home.
But for the decades-long abject failure to have a sensible debate at the Federal level about US immigration policy, perhaps special cases like this could receive special treatment. Solid, enforced Federal laws could stabilize the situation—but the Open Borders crowd has welched on them time after time.
So here is another immigration sob story—ultimately due to Federal neglect, greed and deliberate manipulation by special interests who have the power to override and ignore the best interests of the American people.
But remember, for every immigrant sob story, there are many more examples of American citizens in trouble, out of work, sick, etc.
They just don't get front page coverage on one of America's leading papers—or the attention of the pols they elected.
Americans are damn mad. They should be. And this sort of sob story makes us even madder—because we know why it happened, and why our government continues to ignore us.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.