Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Powerful

Every now and then, I get to work on a story that moves me so much, I end up crying behind the camera. For this one, I sat beside one of my subjects and told her: "Mi corazon esta rompiendo. (My heart is breaking.)" And we cried together.

I encourage anyone who advocates the "Build a big fence around Mexico; immigrants=locusts because they send money home; Learn English or LEAVE" position to watch this and read this.

6 comments:

shannon said...

Nicely done, lady.
(I'm actually interviewing one of those "build the fence" and elect me to high political office so I can do it -- literally -- next week. ugh)

hefk said...

really beautiful.
I'm going to send you a copy of Kev's "the Line in the Sand" DVD. I think you'd like it.

Judy said...

Very, very powerful. Thanks for telling the world a story that is begging to be told. With immigration law changes, if Janet and I help an illegal immigrant mother get prenatal care or provide for her basic needs, we could be charged with a felony.
So Angie, make sure they send me to a fed prison with palm trees! Mom

lauren said...

I find myself somewhere in the middle of the immigration debate (I think I'm becoming a moderate dem in my old age), however, there is nothing to debate about your talent. I continue to be amazed.

Angie said...

Thanks for the compliment, Lauren. :)

The situation all of these women are in is a difficult one to grapple with. One of the most important things that my co-worker who wrote the story has taught me over the years is that interviews with one or two individuals are never going to capture the full breadth and depth of any given issue. It's very difficult to write a full-length tour de force article that examines all the pros and cons of anything, particularly in the confined space of a daily newspaper. She is very talented in drawing out her subjects and placing them in the context of a larger social issue. She captures their humanity in words, and I try to take my cues from her. (She also worked with me on the quinceanera story.)

Overall, I was moved by these women's stories. Are any of them in an ideal mothering scenario? No. Are they breaking the law? Yes. Should the laws be changed? That's not for the media to decide, although Shannon had a really good idea about seasonal work passes when we were discussing this issue during her visit. Does it bug me that the same wealthy people who pay illegal immigrants less than minimum wage to meticulously care for their lawns advocate for their tax dollars to be spent on security cameras in areas where immigrants congregate when looking for work? Absolutely. Is that racism? I believe it is.

As the granddaughter of immigrants, I *feel* better informed as I think about immigration reform now that I know a little more about personal history of the woman who works as a nanny, who sweeps up in the beauty salon, who makes the tapas that are so tasty with margaritas. And I'm glad my senator co-sponsored the reintroduction of the Agricultural Job Opportunity Benefits and Security Act earlier this year after it was blocked by the Republican leadership in 2003, though that bill doesn't directly apply to urban places supported by an illegal blue collar workforce.

lauren said...

Hi, Angie. There is no question that these are powerful stories. And I'm certainly NOT in the "build a fence" camp by any means. I think immigration is crucial; it's what built this country and what continues to make it what it is today. I celebrate the fact that we live in such a diverse place.

However...the sticking point for me is the legality of the matter. Should the laws be changed? Maybe, but that's not my call. For now, they are what they are. There are steps that need to be followed in order to legally work and live here. And the US is by no means alone in such laws -- I couldn't decide to hop a flight to France tomorrow and start working there without going through the proper channels. They'd immediately toss me out on my derriere.

Of course, the issue is far more complicated than that. It makes me sick that anyone, anywhere would be denied medical treatment. And it makes me sick that the same people who want to "build a fence" also want to hire illegal immigrant labor at rock-bottom prices.

And so I find myself somewhere in the middle of the debate, hearing all the arguments and unsure of where I stand. I really like the seasonal work passes suggestion. It's one of the most constructive ideas I've heard regarding this issue.

Kudos to you for creating a forum where people can share ideas and discuss issues that really matter.