‘We are Americans’ cover and story strike a chord — and call for more
There is a satifying sort of vindication in seeing the mainstream press pay attention to a story we — the independent ethnic media — have been covering for a long time.
It’s been that way this week, as Time Magazine unveiled its cover.“We are Americans,” it proclaims, followed by an asterisk that indicates “Just not legally.” The story is written by by José Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who is an undocumented immigrant, and in the cover photo he stands front and center flanked by other young undocumented immigrants, many of them long active in advocacy for the DREAM-Act. It is a striking cover, and for us at Al Día, one that includes a number of familiar faces.
Tania Chaírez, for example. The Philly-area DREAM-Act activist was last in our newspaper in March, as we covered a protest in front the ICE offices and Chaírez’s subsequent arrest. Or, Gaby Pacheco, who we followed on the “Trail of Dreams” — a five-month, 1,000 mile walk from Miami to Washington, D.C. — a journey that took place early in 2010 and which we documented in a dedicated web site. Or, Vargas himself, who appeared in our pages on May 17.
As we go to press, the twitterverse is alive with people retweeting the Time magazine cover image and the hashtag #WeAreAmericans. It is all good. The story Vargas tells deserves to be heard by a wide swath of Americans, and exposure through Time Magazine will do that in a way that few U.S. publications can match.
Still, it’s impossible to ignore that at the same time this is trending on twitter, so is the news that Rep. Steve King has said he will not support either of the two measures Republicans have proposed that would give undocumented young people an alternative to deportation (Sen. Marco Rubio’s still undefined path to legal residency and Fla. Rep. David Rivera’s STARS bill which would enable some students enrolled in college to stay in the country legally and eventually apply for citizenship).
King, who is the vice chairman of the House immigration subcommittee, is quoted as saying that even these GOP proposals — not to say anything about the DREAM-Act Chaírez and Pacheco have advocated for — won’t get far in the Republican-controlled House.
When the Luis Ramírez story — the brutal and fatal beating of an undocumented Mexican in Shenendoah, Pa. in 2008 — got some face time from the mainstream media, we applauded and waited for more. Long after the mainstream media had packed its bags, we followed the story — week-in and week-out. We devoted three years to it, until the verdict was rendered — because it merited that sort of sustained attention.
This story does too, however many weeks, months or years it takes for there to be an answer to the challenge posed by Vargas in his article.
We know we’ll be here tomorrow, covering the dreamers and telling the stories of the undocumented, because every print issue of our newspaper carries at least one immigration story. And every day we upload another two or three more stories about immigration to our web site. Individually, as editors and journalists and writers, we blog and tweet the stories of the undocumented residents of our city, our country, and world.
We know we’ll walk with the dreamers — as Al Día’s David Cruz, John Stish and Nubia Erives literally did in Georgia and Virginia and Washington D.C. with Pacheco in 2010 — because we’ve been walking with them all along.
And so, after the striking cover and the fantastic first-person account by Vargas, we’re hopeful that the mainstream press will hang in and be here with us tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that. Through every kind of political weather and every tempest or storm.
Because the story doesn’t end yet.