CNN Rolls Out Sob Stories From Latino Soldier, Businesses on Impact of AZ Law

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN Correspondent; & PFC Jose Medina, US Army | NewsBusters.orgCNN and CNN.com highlighted opposition to Arizona's new anti-illegal immigration law on Monday and Wednesday by focusing on sob stories from a soldier of Latino decent whose family entered the U.S. illegally when he was two, and from Latino businesses apparently "already feeling the effects" of the law.

Correspondent Thelma Gutierrez's interview of Private First Class Jose Medina first aired during the 6 am Eastern hour of Monday's American Morning program. Anchor Kiran Chetry noted that "Thousands of people staged a peaceful protest outside the state capitol in Phoenix....An immigrant soldier [Medina] about to ship out to the war zone was among yesterday's [April 25] protesters." Gutierrez continued that the soldier "sat down with us to talk about his feelings and fears over this new immigration law in Arizona that could affect his family."

During the interview, PFC Medina recounted that when he first entered the military, people who ask him where he was from: "I was proud to say I'm from the great state of Arizona, because I was raised here, I grew up here. I don't know if I can say that so proudly. I don't know if I want to live here any more." The CNN correspondent highlighted how the passage of Arizona's SB1070 was "personal" for the soldier, and asked him slanted questions about the legislation.
GUTIERREZ (on camera): Why do people feel indignant about being asked to produce an I.D. that they ought to have?

MEDINA: It's an insult, almost- because the color of your skin, because you're not white.

GUTIERREZ: Is this that you resent the fact that you could be stopped and asked for your papers while you're fighting for this country? Is that what angers you?

MEDINA: It's not so much anger, it's hurt that- you know, that could happen to me, it could happen to my family, my friends.
Gutierrez also highlighted Medina's pre-deployment going-away dinner, which she was invited to. At the end of her report, she stated that "Medina says that as a soldier, one of his biggest concerns is that under this law, somewhere in Arizona, a Gold Star mother who lost a child could be racially profiled and detained. He says that would be the ultimate insult."

On Wednesday, CNN.com's Emmanuella Grinberg zeroed in on the apparent immediate impact of Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law in an article titled "Latino businesses feel pinch of new immigration law." Grinberg quoted extensively from business owners who were reportedly suffering a downturn in activity during the days leading up to and following the signing of the bill. She only briefly mentioned how "supporters say the law will temper the negative effects of immigration, such as crime and the misuse of taxpayer dollars to fund health care and education needs of illegal immigrants."
Hector Manrique takes a look around his taqueria and sighs. It's 3:30 in the afternoon, and usually around this time at least five or six tables are occupied by day laborers fresh off work, or schoolchildren and families in search of a torta or taco after school.

But today, Taqueria Guadalajara's plastic lawn chairs and tables are empty, and so is the tip jar on the counter. Street traffic in this predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona, is also lighter than usual, says Manrique, who opened the casual Mexican eatery in 2003.

Not even a week has passed since Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law tough measures targeting illegal immigrants, but Manrique and others who own businesses that cater primarily to Phoenix's large Hispanic community say they are already feeling the effects....

Manrique says customers started to become scarce a few weeks ago, when news surfaced that the bill was likely to pass. Then came Friday, the day Brewer signed the legislation.

"The streets just went empty. Usually on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we're packed. But this weekend was empty like I'd never seen it before," Manrique said.

Across town, Jose Rivas' bodega offers customers a money wiring teller, a butcher counter and a wide variety of Mexican brands of cookies, beverages and household goods. He said his business also is taking a hit, and that the effects could be long-term.

"Ours is a culture that consumes a lot -- food, drinks, clothes, you name it," said Rivas, periodically stopping to greet or wave at a customer. "If no one's out shopping, how can I afford to employ my workers? They're all here legally. What happens to them?"

Ernesto Tercero, a first-generation Arizonan whose family is from Mexico, owns a meat distribution company that supplies dozens of stores in Phoenix. He says SB 1070 is a slap in the face to the Hispanic community.

"These people came here because they were told that there were jobs. They were brought here under promises of work, the American dream, and for many years we kept the dream alive," he said.

Tercero, a tall, outspoken man whose gregarious manner underscores his deep connection to the community, noted that Hispanics both legal and illegal are considering leaving Arizona to avoid confrontations with law enforcement....Growing up in Phoenix, Tercero recalls a time when Spanish was discouraged from being spoken in schools and Hispanics were limited in the jobs they could pursue and the places they could live.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center