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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

Tale of two immigrants: Who stays? Who must go?

By Tyler Riggs

October 18, 2006 | At the surface, opinions on the immigration issue in the United States can appear to be as black and white as the divide between Democrats and Republicans or cat lovers and dog lovers. A poll of people on the street, asking them what they think of immigrants from countries like Mexico living in America, would likely return answers such as, "Send them back," or "Let them stay."

Opinion on the issue becomes a little grayer when you recognize that even if an individual is in the United States illegally, they are still an individual and don't deserve to be labeled as part of a law-breaking mass of people.

Take Jesus Flores for example: After moving to Logan about 12 years ago from Chihuahua, Mexico, he started working at two local restaurants at minimum wage. Flores, along with his wife Yolanda and three children, participate in community programs, are involved with local schools, and say they have never broken any laws in the community.

Other than the law that says Jesus and Yolanda aren't in the country legally, that is.

"We just work and make a living and try not to be trouble for anyone," Flores said through a translator. "I pay our bills here and send extra money to my brother in Mexico."

Flores is one of an unknown number of illegal immigrants working in Cache Valley in industries such as warehouses, farms and restaurants. He says that as long as he stays out of trouble, he doesn't fear deportation. But with inconsistent policies and enforcement of laws in America, should he?

Manuel Carias thought he had nothing to worry about too, and earlier this year he found himself in deep trouble with the law.Carias was a hard-working man, a leader in both his religious and social communities, and a father of six children who attend Cache Valley schools.

Carias sounds like any regular guy working to make a living in Northern Utah, but he's not. In June, after years of attorney snafus and botched paperwork, Carias was ordered to leave the United States.

The immigration issue sure seems to become a little unfair when someone a regular Joe can relate to gets involved, can't it?

When Carias left his home country of Guatemala in 1992 to help his sick father and to give his family a better life in America, he left a career as a doctor. Relocating to Cache County, he got a job at Icon Health and Fitness, where over the years he worked up the ladder until he became safety coordinator.

But in March, The Herald Journal reported, Carias had to face the spoils of a failed 10-year legal battle to try and get legal residency. Having hired an attorney who was later disbarred in the state of Utah, papers were misfiled, Carias wasn't notified of court appointments, and by the time the Hyrum man discovered that the legal wheels weren't in full motion, it was too late for him.

He hired a new attorney this year and tried to make a last-ditch effort to legally stay in America with his wife and kids, but it was too late. The strong arm of immigration law finally came down on Carias when he was at the Salt Lake City immigration office to help his mother take care of some business there. The Herald Journal reported that Carias was pulled into an office by a Department of Homeland Security agent and told that he was not in the country legally and would have to leave soon.

You wouldn't think a man who was breaking the law and creating problems for American society would voluntarily present himself at a government building, and then continue making appointments in the coming weeks in hopes of resolving the immigration issue, but Carias did. He made every appointment scheduled for him, until the day he was ordered to leave the United States. Carias was able to get a stay on a deportation order that day in June, and is still fighting a legal battle to remain in America.

It's stories like this that make the immigration issue tough to swallow.

Walls and fences will not keep immigrants out of this country in the future, and any legislation approved in the coming years probably won't end the discussion that will likely only increase in the decades to come: Immigration is an issue that's here to stay.

Carias and Flores, both men who worked hard to support their families and be responsible members of an American community, have been treated differently, and it's hard to justify that. Carias, in the wrong place at the wrong time, found himself on the wrong end of policy, while Flores hopes to fly below the radar like many others in this country.

When government officials in the future debate the immigration issue, they must not look at immigrants as a law-breaking group; rather, they must consider them a large faction of individuals. No one argues that this country was founded, and likely made great, by individuals immigrating from all different backgrounds and walks of life.

There is a place in this country for any man, woman, or child, who is willing to work to make a living for themselves, while at the same time abiding by the morays and laws of our society. Who are we -- rather, who are our elected officials -- to say who can and cannot have an opportunity to succeed in the Land of Opportunity?

Just because Flores doesn't and Carias didn't have a piece of paper saying they were legal Americans, doesn't mean that they aren't Americans at heart. And in the end, isn't that what really matters?


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