Friday, April 27, 2007

More than two sides

This week immigrantion-rights activists protested a raid on an alleged fake ID ring in Little Village. They were outraged by arrests made Tuesday midafternoon at a strip mall. The protestors said ICE was trying to intimidate people who want to participate in a May 1st immigration rally.

Click here for news report

This issue sparked a blogging firestorm on the Chicago Tribune Web site. Columnist Eric Zorn published an online piece about the raid and following protest on Wednesday. By 4:30 p.m., readers posted five dozen blogs on the subject. The opinions ran the gamut, from Minutemen rhetoric to ardent illegal immigration support. The spectrum of opinions represented this issue's multi-faceted nature.

Often we hear from two stock characters in illegal immigration news stories -- the Minuteman and Mexican community activist. But the issue is not so black-and-white. There are many shades in-between, so to speak. Chicago is home to immigrants of many nationalities. They would also be affected by immigration law reform. Let's hear from them, too.

Also, much of the debate revolves around the economic ramifications of illegal immigration. Often we hear impassioned arguments driven by anecdotes. While personal stories are critical to humanizing the issue, this story also screams for hard numbers. The problem is that economists disagree about the net effect of undocumented immigrants who buoy industries -- like agriculture and construction -- and those that sap social services. The conflicting opinions aren't easy to sort out on television, which explains why I haven't seen much economic analysis (involving statisitics and graphs)on local TV news. The director of the American Society of Newspaper Editors wrote an enlightening column about the complexiities of reporting on immigration on Poynter's Web site.

This story may not have garnered the same media attention as the MSNBC presidential debate, but, in a hyper local way, it gave an interesting glimpse into what's sure to be one of the hot-button issues of 2008.


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