The Journal Steps On Its Dress – Er, Immigration Package

June 7th, 2010 · No Comments · Uncategorized

By Tracy Dingmann

If the role of a newspaper is to present a balanced, nuanced picture of an issue that has proven hugely controversial in the community it serves, then the Journal did a very good thing on June 6.

The paper devoted an entire page of the Opinion-Editorial section to a side of the immigration issue that’s not been presented much in the paper – the immigrant’s side.

First, in a guest opinion column, Melissa Ann Jameson, a local English-as-a-Second-Language and GED teacher, wrote of her work with adult students, most of whom are immigrants from Latin America. A portion of her students are undocumented, with no way to pursue regularization of their status, she wrote.

For all of them, coming to the United States was a decision borne of necessity, rooted in desperation for economic or personal security, or both. They would have come (or stayed) through legal means if that had been possible, but visa requirements are so unreasonable as to be absurd in many of their cases.

Jameson explained that students in her writing class had responded with shock, dismay and fear after seeing a Journal page full of letters to the editor on May 11 – the writers of which all spoke forcefully against the very presence of undocumented immigrants in New Mexico.

While many Albuquerque Journal readers write of immigrants as if they were aliens from another world or invaders of intrinsic criminality, I would submit that they are in fact very familiar to us. They are the ones who wash our cars, pick and prepare our food, wash our dishes, take care of our children and grandparents, and clean our offices, our hotels, our homes.

Jameson explains that she asked her students what they would most want people to know about immigrants – and then asked them to write letters expressing themselves on that topic.

The Journal printed six signed letters containing personal stories from Jameson’s students. It was an admirable effort to try to humanize the very people everyone is yelling so much about these days.

It was just too bad the Journal blew it with the headline on Jameson’s piece, which read, “Illegal Immigrants Come For Better Life.”

“Illegal.” Jameson doesn’t use that stigmatizing word in her piece. Nor does anyone who works to increase understanding and tolerance regarding the complicated issue of immigration – which was the point of the entire worthy package.

So why the heck did Journal editors insist on using the word illegal to describe humans in a package that’s designed to educate and enlighten? It’s like wearing a lovely dress – and then trampling all over the hem.

Did they do it on purpose, to make some kind of statement? It’s hard to believe they would shoot themselves in the foot that way.

Maybe it was just an unfortunate oversight.

Tags: ·

No Comments so far ↓

There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment