Editors like Martin Baron at The Washington Post love to insist that the publisher or the owner (or a former publisher) doesn't really tell them what to do. But when they do, it gets disclosed in paragraph 33 on page A-10.
This is what happened Saturday, in a syrupy Jessica Contrera front-pager on two "Dreamers" who decided to leave for Canada. The headline was "A DACA recipient's final choice: Stay or go?" Sadhana Singh, who lived in Guyana until age 13, was leaving behind her undocumented parents, who cannot visit her in Canada. She couldn't afford college until...bigwigs at The Washington Post paid for it.
For nine years after high school, Sadhana languished, living at home, working as a lab technician for an archaeology company and sinking into a depression she struggled to explain. Even when President Barack Obama announced DACA in 2012, giving Sadhana and her brother access to work permits, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses, she couldn’t afford college. Undocumented students are barred from receiving federal financial aid, and in Georgia, they must pay out-of-state tuition.
Then a co-worker told her about TheDream.US, a scholarship specifically for DACA and TPS recipients. (The program was co-founded by Donald Graham, the former publisher [and owner] of The Washington Post, who would later bring Sadhana’s story to the attention of Post reporters. Last year Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the current owner of The Post, and his then-wife, MacKenzie, donated $33 million to TheDream.US.)
She married a Haitian man, also an illegal immigrant. While attending Trinity Washington University on a full scholarship, Singh became an activist:
What had once been her biggest secret became her elevator pitch, the story that opened doors in a city increasingly aware of the plight of DACA recipients. She sat on panels and attended marches. She spoke to journalists and wrote op-eds. She met then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and visited the White House.
“I need to know,” she would say, “that the country that I call home sees me as a human being worthy of life, and not as an invading alien. How much longer do you think I have to wait?”
She was surrounded by people who seemed to think the answer was: not much longer. The 2016 election was almost over. While Donald Trump had disparaged undocumented immigrants and denounced DACA as unconstitutional, Hillary Clinton had hired DACA recipients onto her staff and met with them to learn about their lives. She had vowed to protect from deportation not only them, but their parents, too.
But there was no President Hillary. The story wrapped up with Singh boarding an Air Canada flight, and putting America behind her:
She thanked the employee for her ticket and lugged her suitcases around a corner. She passed a gift shop selling, red, white and blue hats and T-shirts.
“Maybe I should get something that says ‘USA,’ ” she said. She took a few more steps.
“No,” she said. “I think I have had enough.”