NPR Touts 'Reverse Neighborhood Watches' That Alert Illegals That the Cops Are Around

NPR's All Things Considered devoted an entire one-sided story Tuesday night to the apparently heart-breaking news that illegal aliens are considering moving out of Arizona to more illegal-friendly states.

Reporter Ted Robbins spent his whole story talking to illegal aliens and their defenders about how they're misunderstood, and even touted how community organizers are "flexing their political muscle" by putting together "barrio defense committees" like "reverse neighborhood watches" to alert illegals that law enforcement is in the area.

ROBERT SIEGEL, anchor: Arizona's tough new immigration law continues to provoke controversy and protest. And now, it's apparently persuading some illegal immigrants that it's time to leave the state. Many have been in Arizona for decades but now worry that a minor traffic stop could turn their lives upside down. NPR's Ted Robbins has the story of one such man in Tucson.

TED ROBBINS: Alex Garcia waters the trees in his front yard though he's not sure how much longer he'll be here.

Mr. ALEX GARCIA: Well, the house is going to probably be sold.

ROBBINS: Until now, the 39-year-old husband and father of three says he's had a happy life. Garcia wears a polo shirt and pressed jeans. He's a business owner and an illegal immigrant. (Soundbite of banging)

We walk inside his small house on Tucson's west side and sit on the sofa. Garcia came to Tucson from Hermosillo, Mexico, through a hole in a barbed wire border fence 18 years ago. He has a remodeling and maintenance business, which in good times, employed 14 people. He resents being called a drain on society.

GARCIA: You know, most of the illegal immigrants pay their taxes. Where's that money? Where -- do they call it something different or is it not taxes because it comes from an illegal alien?

No one in the story gets to pop in and say that "hey, I paid taxes" is a lame argument, like a criminal who's caught breaking and entering into a home who says, "Hey, I bought groceries that are in the fridge!" Paying taxes is just deciding to obey some laws or norms, so you can continue to violate others.

ROBBINS: Garcia says he used to feel welcome in Arizona. But now he feels angry, frustrated and afraid that if he's stopped by police for any reason, he'll be deported to Mexico, separating him from his wife who is also here illegally, and his children who are U.S. citizens.

So Garcia is going to do what some of his friends have already done: Take his family and leave the state. Probably move to New Mexico where he says there's work and a friendly atmosphere or back to Mexico.

GARCIA: We are not being free to let people here. And -- well, you tell me what can what are the other options that we have.

SALVADOR REZA: You know, get ready but don't leave.

ROBBINS: Salvador Reza is a Hispanic community activist in Phoenix. He urges illegal immigrants like Garcia to put money away for emergencies, such as hiring a lawyer, but to stay at least until it's certain that the new Arizona law S.B.1070 survives numerous legal challenges and takes effect later this summer.

REZA: Once you leave, then the 18 years of your life where you wanted to create a (unintelligible) your family and everything else will go down the drain.

ROBBINS: Reza is working to organize the Hispanic community into barrio defense committees, sort of enhanced and reverse neighborhood watches, which will quickly warn illegal immigrants if law enforcement is in the area and take care of families if people get arrested.

REZA: They make sure that people, that the kids have food if one of the parents gets deported.

ROBBINS: Reza says the community organizing is in its early stages. He hopes to organize Phoenix in a way which can be replicated in cities across the country. Ultimately, the goal is for Hispanic citizens to speak for non-citizens and claim political power by voting.

Again, Robbins offers no rebuttal to the idea that there's something objectionable to lobbies "speaking for non-citizens," and he doesn't even ponder the idea that illegal aliens might already be voting. If they don't respect the immigration laws, why should they respect the election laws?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis