NY Times Wages Amnesty Fight in News Pages for Illegals Caught in 'Twilight Underground'

April 18th, 2016 9:50 AM

As the Supreme Court begins to debate whether President Obama's executive actions on immigration exceeded his authority, the New York Times lead National section story Sunday by Julia Preston, one of the paper’s most pro-amnesty reporters (against stiff competition) documented “A Family Anxiously Awaiting a Supreme Court Outcome – Justices Hold the Key To Immigration Mix.”

Again, the Times skipped the clear formulation of “illegal immigrants” in favor of the longer “in the country illegally,” apparently to avoid hateful stigmatizing. The paper’s euphemism of choice was “unauthorized immigrants.”

Jerry Pinto, an immigrant from Bolivia, has visions of opening a spacious carpentry workshop in this suburban city, with his name in bold letters over the door.

“I want a place where I can be visible,” he says wistfully. But for now he knows he has to lie low, because he is in the country illegally. He runs his carpentry business almost surreptitiously from the cramped garage behind his house.

Mr. Pinto is among more than four million unauthorized immigrants whose lives could be transformed by the Supreme Court. On Monday, the justices will hear oral arguments in a challenge brought by 26 states, led by Texas, to President Obama’s effort through executive action to give the immigrants legal work permits and protection from deportation.

At least Preston got out the thesaurus and skipped the Times usual pro-amnesty “out of the shadows” cliché:

Depending on the outcome, people like Mr. Pinto will have a chance to come out into the open or will remain, perhaps for years, in a twilight underground. And the stakes are high in this election year, since the two leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, have both said they would deport all 11 million foreigners in the country illegally.

The larger of the president’s programs before the Supreme Court would benefit immigrants who are parents of United States citizens and legal permanent residents, if they pass background checks and have no serious criminal records.

Most of those parents have families like Mr. Pinto’s: an immigration mix that leads to differing opportunities and limits, and to openness, secrecy and fear all within one family.


He made his way to Virginia where he had relatives, and he quickly discovered the work available to him without legal papers or a Social Security number was in construction -- outdoors. He soon added a second trade, learning plumbing to work two jobs at once. Then he learned another skill, making exterior moldings. Several years ago he purchased an industrial saw that he installed in his garage and started his own company.

Still, Mr. Pinto said, “I can’t think about anything more than survival and making sure my children have something to eat.” Surrounded by the comforts of a well-to-do suburb, he sometimes could not pay rent and buy food.

His wife cleans houses to add to the family income. But even after more than a decade here, she is often reluctant to leave the house.

“I hear news on the radio of an immigration raid nearby,” she said, “and it makes me think I might go out tomorrow morning and never return to see my children.”

His daughter benefited through an Obama program for young illegals:

Mr. Pinto observed his daughter’s gains with pride and a twinge of envy. “We have to stop having our own dreams and just think about the future of our children,” he said.

Like the youth program, Mr. Obama’s more recent initiative, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, also offered temporary deportation deferrals and work permits, but no lasting immigration status. The immigrants would be able to get driver’s licenses in some states, to take out loans and own homes and businesses. The president also expanded the youth program, eliminating an upper age limit.

Preston cited some pro-amnesty stats:

Like the Pintos, at least four-fifths of eligible parents have lived in the United States for a decade or more, according to a study by the Center for Migration Studies, a nonpartisan research center. About 94 percent are steadily employed. Roughly half say they speak English well or fluently.

An opposing view rose briefly in paragraph 24 of the 29-paragraph report.

But Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, signed a Supreme Court brief opposing the programs. “The lack of respect for our immigration laws on the part of government officials and unlawful immigrants is not conducive to promoting respect for the rule of law in general, for preventing crimes and promoting public safety,” Mr. Goodlatte said. A decision from the court is expected in June.

The Pintos are waiting anxiously. Christian, the American citizen now in third grade, has understood for the first time what could happen if immigration agents came for the family. His father and siblings could be sent to Bolivia, his mother to Mexico, and he could be left in the United States.

Preston concluded with another twist on the old “out of the shadows” bit, with the family finally "taking steps out of hiding." Wouldn't being the subject of a big color photograph in the New York Times kind of take care of that anyway?

Hopeful, the family is already taking steps out of hiding, inviting a Democratic congressman, Representative Don Beyer of Virginia, to dinner earlier this month.

“I feel like an American,” Mr. Pinto said. “This is my country now.”