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Dallas Morning News Names "Illegal Immigrant" the 2007 "Texan of the Year"
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Update 12/31: Lonewacko has reax.


The Sunday edition of the Dallas Morning News carries a lengthy lead editorial extolling the “illegal immigrant” as the 2007 “Texan of the Year.” The full piece is here. (hat tip – Freedom Folks and readers). I’ll cut to the chase and give you the paper’s rather underwhelming, “on the one hand, on the other hand, time will tell” ending:

If critics are correct, we could be seeing the advent of the kind of fractiousness that bedevils public life in Canada and other nations where peoples who speak different languages, and come from different cultural backgrounds, live together only with mutual suspicion and unease.

On the other hand, perhaps the alarmists are wrong. Maybe these ambitious, hard-working immigrants, whatever their documentation, will write the next great chapter of a story that’s still deeply American, though with a different accent. If the optimists are right, much work remains to be done to incorporate all immigrants fully into new cultural traditions.

We end 2007 no closer to compromise on the issue than when the year began. People waging a culture war – and that’s what the struggle over illegal immigration is – don’t give up easily. What you think of the illegal immigrant says a lot about what you think of America, and what vision of her you are willing to defend. How we deal with the stranger among us says not only who we Americans are today but determines who we will become tomorrow.

I respect the Dallas Morning News editorial board’s desire to foster debate and break new ground. But it always amuses me when newspaper editors think they’re doing something fresh and new in putting a “human face” to illegal immigration. Most immigration news coverage amounts to little else besides peddling illegal immigrant sob stories and whitewashing the negative consequences of open-borders chaos on the law-abiding population. This is the rule, not the exception.

Question: Why is it that the human face they want us to see belongs only to the law-breaker…and not the human face of those who have to enforce the law or bear the costs of lax enforcement?

Question: Why is the “illegal immigrant” the “Texan of the Year”–and not, say, the “Border Patrol agent?”

Question: Why is the “illegal immigrant” the “Texan of the Year”–and not, say, the victims of catch-and-release and failed deportation policies…like 15-year-old Dani Countryman of Kaufman, Texas–who was murdered in August by two illegal aliens with prior records who had entered the U.S. from Mexico illegally.

We’re also always lectured by many newsroom types about the “complexity” of the issue. But who’s guilty of oversimplification here?

There are non-violent, hard-working illegal aliens. There are violent, dangerous illegal aliens. There are moochers. There are militants. There are border-crossers. There are visa overstayers. There are earnest dishwashers. There are drug smugglers. There are jihadists. There are gangbangers. There are con artists. There are legitimate victims of bureaucratic screw-ups. To lump them all together under the “hard-working illegal immigrant” archetype and award them a “Texan of the Year” award strikes me as an unhelpfully reductionist and hackneyed approach. And a missed opportunity.

Instead of planting themselves safely in “middle ground,” wouldn’t the DMN’s readership be better served by an editorial board that could tell them where they stand on substantive policy questions facing communities across Texas–and across the country. Try these for starters:

– Should the government continue to provide funding to cities that adopt sanctuary policies or not?

– Should illegal alien ID cards issued by foreign consulates continue to be acceptable in the face of strong opposition from homeland security and law enforcement experts?

– Does the board support or oppose the expansion of the federal employer verification system being challenged by the ACLU?

– Would the board back efforts by sheriffs and police who want to participate in the 287(g) immigration enforcement training program?

– What exactly is the board’s position on the DREAM Act?

Instead we get this:

The newspaper’s Editorial Board recognizes the myriad, profound ways in which this group of people impacts Texas, ranging from the economy to politics to the most basic sense of culture. Lamenting that “there seems to be little middle ground in [the] debate,” the Board notes that “spectacular fights over their presence … broke out across Texas this past year, adding to the national pressure cooker as only Texas can.”

“Everything’s bigger in Texas, and history and geography guarantee that the immigration problem is no different. And many issues are flaring sooner here,” the editorial reads, as it dedicates unusual length to explore all sides of the issue and put a face on the people at the center of the debate. “Illegal immigration exacerbates the natural tension in American society by injecting more change than can be absorbed — and by defying laws designed to control the rate of change,” the editorial reads.


“The story of the illegal immigrant in Texas is rich in history, complexity and controversy, and the impact on the state is pervasive,” said Keven Ann Willey, vice president and editorial page editor of The Dallas Morning News. “Because of this complexity, and also because of their illegal status, it was not possible for us to call out a single individual, but as the Board debated it became clear to us that as a group, these people merited recognition.”

“How should we deal with this stranger among us?” the DMN editorial asks.

Well, wouldn’t it have been truly novel for the paper to take real, clear stands on immigration enforcement policies and provide some concrete answers to the question is so grandiosely poses in its Sunday showpiece?

Or would that have “exacerbated” too much “natural tension” and pushed them off the safe space of “middle ground?”

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)