AP Claims Discrimination Against Mexicans in Illinois, Offers NO Proof

According to the Associated Press, folks who are "foreign-born" are "newcomers" who "feel anything but welcome" in the Chicago suburb of Waukegan, Illinois. The AP piece leads the reader to imagine that several of the town's laws have been specifically written to chase out Mexicans and that the immigrant community (legal or otherwise) in Waukegan is feeling pressure to get out. Yet, upon close examination of this AP piece, one cannot help but realize that the AP does not offer any statistics to prove that Mexican residents are leaving in any numbers, they don't cite any rise in arrests of Spanish speakers there to indicate possible harassment, nor do they even quote anyone to "prove" their contention but one Yolanda Torrez, a lawyer who specializes in criminal, DUI traffic violations, Social Security and DWL traffic violations cases for Spanish-speaking clients. In the final analysis, the AP offers no proof whatsoever that "foreign-born" residents are afraid or truly being discriminated against at all. They just state it as a fact using a single, biased person's words to assert it.

After a description of the "sailboats" that gently float in nearby Lake Michigan, and other panoramic language the AP piece goes on to describes how "Mexican groceries" and other ethnic businesses have grown in the suburban town. And then the AP begins the scare-mongering with a grave, "despite their numbers, the newcomers feel anything but welcome."

AP continues that grave tone with some claims that they make no real attempt to buttress with proof.

"Coexistence has been uneasy at best ever since Waukegan officials applied last summer for a program that would train two local police officers to enforce federal immigration law. The proposal prompted a massive downtown demonstration by immigrant rights' groups and a boycott of businesses that didn't post signs opposing the application."

And what is the basis of this claim of "uneasy" feelings?

"'You have thousands of people who are hardworking, who came and invested in this city. They're being chased away,' said Yolanda Torrez, an attorney born in Waukegan whose practice handles criminal, traffic and real estate cases.

She said Latino residents are understandably skeptical. A decade ago, the city settled a lawsuit with the Justice Department over a housing code that federal authorities alleged was aimed at Hispanic families. And, she said, Hispanic residents now feel targeted by a city ordinance that allows vehicles to be seized and a $500 penalty imposed if the driver lacks insurance or a license."

If that isn't "proof" enough, AP allows Torrez to assure us that, "she's heard of Latinos who have broken their leases and moved away, and of stores that cater to immigrants that have seen sales slip."

And that was the beginning and end of the "proof" in this AP piece. Well, gosh, AP, if our unbiased friend, Torrez, who makes her living off of lawbreakers from the lowest rung of society says that all Waukegan's Mexicans are feeling oppressed... well, it must be true!

For one thing, and not that the AP reports this, but Alderman Larry TenPas is reported as having told a community group, "We had some activists there that stirred people up. They went around to all the stores; put signs in the stores, 'Don't shop here.' And it backfired. The sales tax still went up. It was a bad move." So, the AP's claim that businesses have lost business seems untenable.

Then the AP report goes on to attack various laws and ordinances that are purportedly anti-immigrant in the eyes of people like Torrez.

She said Latino residents are understandably skeptical. A decade ago, the city settled a lawsuit with the Justice Department over a housing code that federal authorities alleged was aimed at Hispanic families. And, she said, Hispanic residents now feel targeted by a city ordinance that allows vehicles to be seized and a $500 penalty imposed if the driver lacks insurance or a license.

The federal immigration enforcement program was created in 1996, but the first agency didn't join until 2001. Now, about 28 municipal, county or state law enforcement agencies currently take part, and the Department of Homeland Security has applications pending from approximately 75 more.

And the article discusses the ICE immigration training claiming that it is a reason that Waukegan's residents are feeling persecuted. Not surprisingly, there is one other statistic that the AP doesn't seem to want to highlight. According to Doug Heaton of the Assoc. for Legal Americans, "Based on the foreign-born population in Waukegan and research by Pew Hispanic Center, one out of 10 people in Waukegan is an illegal alien. Doing nothing is not an option." So, Waukegan has a reason to want to assist Federal authorities in getting rid of criminals who also happen to be illegal aliens.

Buried at the tail end of the story is the words of Waukegan city officials who say they never intended to use the immigration training to make immigration raids.

"Waukegan Mayor Richard Hyde and Biang have pledged that the city's new authority won't be used for immigration raids, and that illegal immigrants stopped by police for minor infractions, such as not wearing a seat belt or a broken tail light, won't get caught up in the measure.

Instead, they say they want to ensure that immigrants convicted of felonies -- such as rape, murder, drug and gang crimes -- are on the deportation path as soon as possible.

'I don't think even people here illegally, just getting by, doing their jobs, are going to object to that,' Biang said. 'It's their kids who are going to be the victims of drug dealers and drive-by shootings, along with everybody else's children.'"

In any case, the AP makes a lot of serious claims of racism against the city of Waukegan and makes no attempt at all to prove it. They simply state it as if it is all true and this is biased "reporting" at its worst.

It is, however, par for the AP's course.