"Be Kind to Illegal Immigrants" Weekend at the New York Times

In anticipation of mass rallies in support of illegal immigrants, pro-immigrant reporter Nina Bernstein made Sunday’s front page with “Making It Ashore, but Still Chasing U.S. Dream,” following up on the stories of the 286 Chinese immigrants on Golden Venture freighter that ran aground off Queens in 1993.

Inside Sunday’s paper is Abby Goodnough and Jennifer Steinhauer’s “Senate’s Failure to Agree on Immigration Plan Angers Workers and Employers Alike,” which looks at the impasse solely from those who would benefit from an amnesty program, and gives new respect to business owners in favor of illegal immigration, not previously a favored interest group in the Times.

“Until it collapsed on Friday, a compromise immigration plan in the Senate offered Rigoberto Morales a chance to reach his dream of becoming an American citizen….But as tantalizing as the possibility was, Mr. Morales said he never really believed Congress would solve his plight. ‘It's a very bad thing because we're working very hard here and there's no support from the government,’ he said, standing outside a dreary shack where he lives with his wife and three other tomato pickers, all illegal immigrants from Mexico. ‘We're only working. We're not committing a sin.’”

In an interesting wrinkle, Times liberal columnists Paul Krugman and Nicholas Kristof (both behind the Times Select $ firewall) have gently suggested illegal immigration is hurting American workers by driving wages down.

Robert McFadden on Monday reports that “Across the U.S., Protests for Immigrants Draw Thousands.”

He provides a starry-eyed lead:

“Demonstrators flying banners of immigration reform marched in cities across the nation yesterday to demand citizenship and a share of the American dream for millions of illegal immigrants who have run a gantlet of closed borders, broken families, snake-eyed smugglers and economic exploitation. Singing, chanting and waving placards and American flags, a sea of demonstrators -- police estimates ran as high as 500,000 -- marched in downtown Dallas in the largest of the protests. Some 20,000 rallied in San Diego, 7,000 in Miami, and 4,000 each in Birmingham, Ala., and Boise, Idaho.”

(As McFadden mentions much later, marchers were given American flags by protest organizers.)

McFadden gets the “just-folks” clichés just right, mainstreaming the protestors, many of whom are illegal immigrants themselves, in a description that could have come out of any media report on the anti-war movement:

“The Dallas protesters were young and old. Some were families pushing baby strollers. Some walked with canes, others rolled along in wheelchairs. There were members of unions, churches, civil rights organizations and business groups, but many were strangers to one another. Some spoke passionately about their desire to be Americans, to vote and to hold a job without fear.”

For comparison, here’s what Lizette Alvarez wrote in the Times about an anti-war march in London on November 21, 2003:

“Grandmothers with canes, parents with children in strollers, high school students, women in business suits, as well as button-bedecked antiwar demonstrators gathered elbow to elbow in Trafalgar Square to voice their disapproval of Mr. Bush and his administration's foreign policies."

Back to McFadden Monday morning:

“The crowds at many of the protests also cheered speakers who denounced a system that has driven more than 11 million illegal immigrants into shadowy lives of subterfuge, and who called for a new deal that would extend basic rights to them and a chance of eventual citizenship. Organizers said the protests would not stop until Congress passed laws to improve their lives.”

“Much of the anger yesterday and at the protests in recent weeks was directed at a bill passed by the House of Representatives last December. It would have authorized a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border; raised the crime of illegal immigration to a felony; and criminalized giving assistance, including food and water, to illegal immigrants.”

McFadden doesn’t provide any counterpoint, quoting no one opposed to giving illegals more rights or putting them on a path to American citizenship.

For more examples of New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.

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Clay Waters's picture