Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > One Newspaper’s Choice of the Undocumented as Person of the Year Doesn’t Make Sense to Critics or Advocates

One Newspaper’s Choice of the Undocumented as Person of the Year Doesn’t Make Sense to Critics or Advocates

LatinaLista — Illegal immigration has not just evolved into a polarizing issue during this presidential campaign but the savvy in society have learned how to manipulate this issue to their advantage.
Whether it’s used as the foundation to spearhead a presidential platform as former Republican presidential candidate, Tom Tancredo, confessed to or as a running theme of a cable talk show like CNN’s Lou Dobbs, the issue is guaranteed to draw in followers, viewers and the hope of one newspaper — readers.

One week ago, The Dallas Morning News (DMN) published their annual choice for “Texan of the Year.” They chose the “Illegal Immigrant.”
Life hasn’t been the same for the Editorial Board of the DMN.

According to their editorial page editor, Keven Ann Willey, the newspaper has been inundated with emails, blog comments and Letters to the Editor. Willey reports that 95 percent of the public’s reaction to their selection was negative.
Is it any wonder? So far, all those who have ever chosen to use illegal immigration to elevate their public persona have done so from a negative standpoint.
What we find today, sadly, is that the public has been pre-conditioned to react negatively when they see the words: immigration, illegal, immigrant and illegal immigrant.
The mistake the Dallas Morning News’ Editorial Board committed when they chose to crown the undocumented as their TOY (an unfortunate acronym for Texan of the Year) was that they didn’t write a strong editorial, if it was an editorial.
Before I go further, I must make a disclaimer and let you know that I have publicly challenged The Dallas Morning News for not having a Latino/a on their Editorial Board. In a city where Latinos are the “majority minority,” this absence, in my opinion, is inexcusable.
Perhaps if there had been Latino/a representation, then a voice of reason (assuming there was none since the selection was given the green light) might have been heard to say, “Guys, if we designate the undocumented immigrant, NOT illegal immigrant, as our Texan of the Year then we go ALL THE WAY.”
Somehow, the paper’s Editorial Board thought they could take a middle of the road approach. Any good editorialist knows that such an approach makes for a weak and watery piece that resembles a jellyfish – spineless and unable to take a stand on firm ground.
If the newspaper thought they could jump on the bandwagon of attention that illegal immigration ensures and not take a side, well, as the saying goes “Hindsight is 20/20.”
Because of all the “unexpected” reaction to the selection, the editorial page editor published a column this past weekend explaining their selection.
First of all, any good editorial should not need explaining. Yet, in her explanation she said something that was surprising, or maybe it was surprising because she thought it was an unspoken criteria that readers understood: Being designated Texan of the Year doesn’t necessarily mean a honor is being bestowed on anyone.
As Willey explained:

“Another major point of contention was whether being named as Texan of the Year was an honor. Most of our detractors felt we intended this designation as way to “reward” or “glorify” people who are here illegally. And if you stop at the words “Texan of the Year: Illegal Immigrant” that interpretation is understandable. If that really were the case, I’d be outraged, too.
But the essay – all three pages of it – and our previous designees should make clear that this wasn’t our intent, either…
When we first launched this feature, we created a definition very similar to what we’ve used in the last three years, except that it included reference to “leadership” and “vision.” In 2005 – largely in reaction to the criticism from readers who claimed that our naming President Bush and Mr. Rove as TOYs connoted our endorsement of their policies and actions – we deleted reference to “leadership” and “vision.” This was designed to make clearer that TOY designation was based on impact and import, and not indicators of editorial support or embrace.
Here’s the definition we published in 2005: “A Texan (or Texans) who has had uncommon impact, who exemplifies Texas traits of trailblazing, independence and staring down adversity and who has affected or influenced many lives (positively or negatively).”
It’s the same definition we used in 2006 and 2007, though for shorthand purposes we eventually lost the parenthetical at the end. It seemed a small point at the time, but now I wish we hadn’t settled for the abbreviated version. Regardless, the TOY designation is subjective; there’s no formula for its development. It’s our opinion – nothing more, nothing less – for better or worse.”

Unfortunately, just as illegal immigration conjures negative expectations, anyone labeled with the distinction of being a “Person of the Year” elicits high expectations from the public.
True, TIME magazine is trying to break these expectations like choosing Putin as their person of the year, but overall society is not there yet — and especially with such a volatile issue as illegal immigration.
As an advocate for the humane treatment of undocumented immigrants, most would think that I would have applauded the DMN’s choice.
I don’t.
For two reasons: They didn’t do their homework in separating stereotype from truth and they chose to present it in such a he-said/she-said format that any reader is confused as to why they should be admired or detested.
As one New York immigration lawyer wrote me after reading it, “Pretty weak sauce for an editorial page, which by definition is supposed to provide reasoned opinion. The paper took the easy way out and ‘reported’ both sides. We report, you decide (approach). Fairly useless.”
It used to not be this way. At one time, this same editorial page wrote courageous editorials that left no doubt where they stood. For example, they had the guts to call for a former Bishop of Dallas to step down amid the priest sex abuse scandals.
But those days appear to be long gone.
Even with the selection of such an unpolitically correct subject, they bent over backwards, it seems, to be politically correct in content.
Illegal immigration will never be about political correctness — it’s too complex. It’s all about compromising what some consider rule of law set in stone with what is fair and humane to a group of people who just want to work but are born into economies that can’t support that desire and need.
The undocumented immigrant doesn’t need to be “recognized” as anyone’s “Person of the Year.”
They just need to be recognized period.

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  • Maldonado
    January 8, 2008 at 10:34 am

    The DMNs’ responsibility is to their stockholders, not to migrant workers.
    I wouldn’t expect responsible corporate citizenry from them or any other for profit publication unless it comes fro the left.
    I had never heard of the DMN before their “Person of The Year” announcement.
    If you say they called for the removal of a perverted priest then that is good but it is just another bandwagon.
    Having spine doesn’t do anyone good in an unemployment line. I do not know their ownership structure but it sounds to me like they’re (the editorial board) just being “good Germans.”
    They had to of known that they couldn’t be neutral. By criminalizing an entire group of people over the “act” itself is, by default, taking the nativist’s position.

  • BrownViews
    January 8, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    I disagree in part with Maldonado’s assertion that “the DMNs’ responsibility is to their stockholders”. True, it’s not necessarily TO “migrant workers” but it’s not a one or the other premise.
    The reality is that DMN’s responsibility is to THE TRUTH, to share the truth with their readers and that should also be what the stockholders see as their stock in trade. If not, it’s an otherwise sad paper.
    Their reason(s) for their selection are a matter of opinion and perspective. That’s the role of an editorial board. It’s to provoke thought and reasoned perspective. Unfortunately, they somehow didn’t express that reasoned perspective well enough to assuage the xenophobic nativists. However, Latina Lista is correct that the inclusion of at least one Latino/a onto the editorial board would have/should have provided an obvious lack of insight. Hopefully, they learn their lesson and do so now!

  • Frank
    January 8, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Since the “Texan” of the year was an illegal alien, how can he be a Texan? He wasn’t even a legel resident of that state. That is what got everyone riled up and rightly so.

  • Maldonado
    January 8, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    BV: “However, Latina Lista is correct that the inclusion of at least one Latino/a onto the editorial board would have/should have provided an obvious lack of insight.”
    I’d like to see Marisa as Hilary Clinton’s Press Secretary.

  • Frank
    January 9, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Who cares what skin color, race or ethnicity one is? I say the best man or woman for the job should get it.

  • Evelyn
    January 9, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    This statement from a person who demonizes immigrants especially Mexicans, with lies, and bashes anyone with an Hispanic surname that dare print the truth.
    Your statement reeks of hypocrisy! Did you really believe anyone would take you seriously? LoL!!

  • Frank
    January 10, 2008 at 9:51 am

    I have never demonized “immigrants”, I oppose illegal aliens in our midst, Mexican or otherwise. Stop projecting lies on me, Evelyn. How dare you say that I have bashed anyone with a Hispanic surname. Is there any end to your blantant lies?
    Your side are the biggest hypocrites! You call law abiding Americans racist while advocating an illegal invasion of this country by your own ethnic kind. Now THAT is racism and hypocricy at it’s very finest!

  • Evelyn
    January 10, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Ha! Ha! Ha! What kind do you think I am Frank? If It’s chiKKKano? Wrong! If It’s Hispanic? Wrong! If It’s Latino? Wrong!
    My side are the thousands of Americans of all ethnicity’s who voted for Hillery, Obama, and John McCain. They refused to vote for the racists, like you say you are.
    They are law abiding Americans who come from immigrant ancestors, like the Irish (like me), or the Jewish, Italian, German, or English Immigrants.
    We are not racists like you and your Ilk. We don’t support the geriatric minuteKLAN, who in an embarrassing display of ignorance, stand at the Mexican border with guns drawn ready to shoot Mexicans, because of a rabid need to display their bigotry, for all the world to witness! Utterly disgusting, at their age one would think they had better sense!
    We are Asian, Russian, and African American, or American Indian (like me), and we all have one thing in common, that people like you, lack. And that is possession of the traits that distinguish humans from beasts. We are the Americans that display compassion and care of other human beings.
    We are the Americans that haven’t forgotten that our ancestors were Immigrants. We are aware that our ancestors and our government have made some ugly choices in the past and continue to do so today. These choices have cost many humans their lives, that is why we advocate for change.
    We also know this great nation was built by all Immigrants mentioned above, and that many Indigenous peoples of America also helped, and this is why we will continue to welcome immigrants in the future, just like we have in the past.
    Your kind will suffer the same fate as all the other racists of the past after their 15 min. of fame is up, you will go down in history books where the words EVIL and BEAST will be used to describe you.

  • Frank
    January 10, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Evelyn, I haven’t a clue what your first sentence was about and where did I ever admit I was a racist? I didn’t because I am not.
    You are lying again, Evelyn. The MM do not stand at the border, guns drawn and ready to shoot Mexicans. There has never been any proof of that! No, what you support are the reconquista’s of this country. Oh yeah that is so much better, isn’t it? And you support the illegal invasion of this country, oh yeah that is so much better, isnt’ it? You support the genocide of Whites in this country, oh yeah that’s so much better, isn’t it?
    My ancestors were immigrants too but they honored the laws of this country that were in place at the time and they came after this country was already established as the USA.
    How odd that you have no compassion for your fellow American citizens and the costs to them of illegal immigration. Myself and others like me have much compassion for LEGAL immigrants. Guess our government and this whole country is racist according to you for having immigration laws? Guess that makes Mexico racist to then?
    Your idea of a racist is bizarre. Look in the mirror for true racism.

  • Evelyn
    January 11, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Throwing another hissie fit and spewing more lies (the cost of illegal immigration to American citizens) about Immigrants will get you nowhere Frank.
    Where is the non racists link to prove your point Frank?
    The only thing calling me names and spewing more lies will get you is having your face rubbed in more truth, and showing how much more ignorant you are. Give up the link to prove your point Frank or wear the BIGOT badge with pride.
    Where is the non racists link that speaks of an illegal invasion of this country other than the one your ancestors participated in.
    Where is the gov. study done on the GENOCIDE OF WHITES LOL you post about, the link Frank not your regurgitated lies!
    Aren’t you embarrassed to be caught lying like this Frank!

  • Frank
    January 11, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Evelyn, you called me a racist and many other vile names before I ever retaliated against you. Don’t play the innocent victim now. You started it and now you are whining because you are getting a taste of your own medicine.
    There has already been links posted in here to support my views, so why post them again? You disputed them then and you would just dispute them again.
    I don’t need a link to prove that there is an illegal invasion going on this country. The facts speak for themselves. There are 12-20 million illegals in this country. Are you disputing that FACT?
    There is no government study about the genocide of whites in this country. You and those of your mindset are advocating it. There is another forum that you post in that advocates it all the time and you go along for the ride, don’t you Evelyn? Maybe your Irish father should go back to Ireland since you believe that white people alive today should be responsible for their ancestors actions of a so-called “invastion” of the past.

  • string
    January 11, 2008 at 11:25 am

    looks to me like evelyn can’t refute the facts! so she attacks the source with no respect, ill intent and all the hate/racism typical of open borders advocates.

  • Jax
    January 11, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    It’s really very simple.
    Illegal immigrants should return to their home countries and wait in line like anyone else before being admitted to this country.

    January 11, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    The Irish-American Indian-American will not be convinced that 20 million illegal aliens constitutes an invasion until it begins to effect her socially, economically or physically. It takes some longer than others to realize cultural golosh does not a nation make. When did anyone hear about teburculoses or flesh eating bacteria prior to 1996? Those are only two diseases that were none existant in the U.S. a few years ago. Now, you see news stories about them weekly. Get ready for smallpox and polio as this unchecked invasion from the south continues. I know this will get me a tongue lashing from Princess Full of Bull, but we are headed for an epidemic if infected people continue to flood in without health checks.

  • Evelyn
    January 11, 2008 at 8:04 pm
    string and Frank having a lovely conversation
    It seems Frank and Eyes have decided to invite cultural, golosh, flesh, eating, bacteria today to be the topic of the day.

  • Frank
    January 12, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Again Evelyn, I am not the “Frank” in the Mod-Bee forum. We just happen to share a common first name. How many times are you going to accuse me of being him? If you would just read his posts you would realize that our writing styles and views are different. He holds no punches when it comes to making negative remarks about illegals that you would find offensive. I don’t do that. I debate with civillity.

  • Evelyn
    January 12, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Hog Wash Frank Hog Wash

  • Frank
    January 12, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    No it isn’t hog wash, Evelyn. I am not the “Frank” who posts in Mod-Bee. I asked you to check out his posts and compare them to mine in here. If you have any brains whatsoever you will see the difference. He is too radical for me and too blunt. I try to be more civilized. But you seem to have some sort of personal vandetta towards me so you believe what you want. You are being completely unreasonable and hateful.

  • Evelyn
    January 13, 2008 at 2:38 am

    17 likenesses, remember I told you, I sent your posts out to be analyzed.
    You are radical over there because they allow it, here you have no choice but to behave, even though you are blunt here too.
    I have a personal vendetta against anyone who lies to demonize anyone. I think liars are despicable. NO, FRANK YOU ARE UNREASONABLE AND HATEFUL with every lie you tell about Mexicans who are immigrants. JUST LIKE YOU SAY YOU HATE “ILLEGAL ALIENS”……….I HATE LIARS WHO USE THEIR LIES TO HURT OTHER HUMAN BEINGS!

  • Frank
    January 13, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    There are no likenesses between me and the other Frank in Mod-Bee because I am not him and I don’t write like him. Marisa allows your trash talk in here so what would stop me from doing the same if I wanted to express myself like the other Frank does? I consider his posts as rash and I believe in giving respect when I am respected and I have a lot more class than the other Frank. You are really stupid if you can’t see the difference. If someone who was educated enough to analize people’s writing’s for comparison, they would laugh in your face for being so damn stupid.

  • Evelyn
    January 14, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Your right Frank, there are few people who are really good at analyzing peoples writing for comparison, and my aunt who is retired now is one of them.
    You have no clue what respect is. Every time you use lies to demonize a person or group of people, or support others that do, you are disrespecting first yourself, and than the person or people you are victimizing!
    Next time you use the word stupid, look in the mirror!

    January 15, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Sort of like those that do not respect the laws of this nation by choosing to come here illegally and victimizing the citizens of America with their crime, their poverty and their overbearing numbers. The demons are those that support such actions and expect American citizens to keep their mouths shut instead of standing up to those that are harmful to all Americans.

  • Evelyn
    January 15, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    I truly sympathize with you Frank. It must be totally embarrassing to have attention seeking idiots who have nothing more than name calling and lies to contribute to this debate hanging on to your pant leg thinking they are defending you.
    I have found the best way to deal with this sort of parasite is to ignore them.

    January 16, 2008 at 7:54 am

    The truth cuts deep, and your response was exactly what everyone here expected. More of your name calling with very little substance as usual from someone on the wrong side of the issues being debated here. Ignore me if you wish, but the only parasites are the illegal aliens and their supporters trying to drag this nation into the realm of third-word status. Must be a miserable existance knowing your fighting a losing battle against those that are defending our nation until our final victory.

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