CNN's Casey Wian on Friday's Newsroom filed a one-sided report on an illegal immigrant activist who was arrested for participating in a sit-in at Senator John McCain's office on Monday. Wian omitted the liberal affiliation of the activist's group, oversimplified the DREAM Act (the cause of the activist), and neglected how it would open the path for illegals to receive in-state tuition.
Wian's interview of Lizbeth Mateo aired 10 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour. An on-screen graphic mentioned Mateo's affiliation with an organization called Dream Team Los Angeles, but the correspondent didn't mention this explicitly during his report. The 25-year-old illegal immigrant, who came to the U.S. with her parents when she was 14, wore the T-shirt of another organization she leads called The DREAM is Coming.com. This organization's website has a donate page which links to a Causes.com page for the United We Dream Network, a coalition which includes liberal organizations such as the National Council for La Raza, the Center for American Progress, and the New World Foundation.
The CNN correspondent asked Mateo about her sit-in demonstration: "So why did you take this risky step of engaging in a sit-in at Senator McCain's office earlier this week- had yourself arrested; had yourself transferred to ICE custody; and now, you're in deportation proceedings...Why take that risk? During her answer, the illegal immigrant mentioned her primary cause, the passage of the DREAM Act.
A graphic described how the legislation "would legalize those brought to U.S. as minors" and "requires education or military service, clean criminal record." However, left-wing Think Progress's report on the sit-in linked to National Council of La Raza's website on the bill, which touts that it would also restore "states' rights to offer in-state tuition to immigrant students residing in their state." The correspondent didn't ask her if this provision of the bill is fair or not.
Wian did press Mateo about her possible deportation: "Have you thought about what's going to happen- what life is going to be like if you actually are deported back to Mexico?" When she answered that she hadn't given it much thought, Wian replied, "Really? Before you sat down in that office and risked getting arrested, you didn't think about what it was going to be like?"
The full transcript of Casey Wian's report from Friday's Newsroom program:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE PROTESTER 1 (chanting): Our immigrants are under attack. What do we do? (Crowd chants, 'Stand up, fight back!')
TONY HARRIS: Okay. Those chants [are] from students protesting outside Senator John McCain's office in Tucson, Arizona, Monday. They marched against the state's strict immigration law. Five protesters held a sit-in inside the senator's office. They were arrested. It turns out four of them are in the United States illegally. They were transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The four now face possible deportation.
Our Casey Wian spoke to one of them about why she is willing to put so much on the line.
CASEY WIAN: 25-year-old Lizbeth Mateo was 14 when she crossed the border from Mexico illegally with her parents. Now, she's a college graduate, but practically unemployable, because she's an illegal immigrant.
LIZBETH MATEO, DREAM TEAM LA: I was young and I was naive, and I didn't really realize what- you know, what I was about to do or how my life would change. I knew I was an undocumented, but I didn't know what that meant or what- how that would impact my life until I tried to apply to college, and that's when I realized that having no legal status would affect everything else in my life.
WIAN: You were able to graduate from college, though, despite having no legal status.
MATEO: It was difficult to go through all of that. It was- it took me about six years to finally graduate, and I did that in 2008.
WIAN: So why did you take this risky step of engaging in a sit-in at Senator McCain's office earlier this week- had yourself arrested; had yourself transferred to ICE custody; and now, you're in deportation proceedings, and you're risking making happen what exactly you don't want to happen, and that's the possibility of being deported back to your native country, which is Mexico? Why take that risk?
MATEO: Because we want to pass the DREAM Act. We had to do something. We had to take a stand, and show our communities that to create change, you need to have courage and you need to take really bold steps. You know, there's such an urgency, not only for myself, but for the young people who are graduating from high school and don't know what to do. Can I access a college education? Can I get the job that they want? Can I travel, get a driver's license, do simple things that any American kid can do? This is the first time that undocumented youth have taken the risk of- you know, being put in deportation proceedings by taking such a bold action, by staging a sit-in and a peaceful resistance.
WIAN: Have you thought about what's going to happen- what life is going to be like if you actually are deported back to Mexico?
MATEO: You know, I haven't really had a chance to think about that. I think-
WIAN: Really? Before you sat down in that office and risked getting arrested, you didn't think about what it was going to be like?
MATEO: I think- you know, the reason we did it- it wasn't because we wanted to give attention to ourselves. But the message that we're really trying to send is that we are willing to make this kind of sacrifices [sic] to make something happen.
WIAN: Lizbeth and other supporters of the DREAM Act say they realize that broad immigration reform is not likely to happen this year, but they say legalizing the status of those who were brought here as minors by their parents illegally is doable, and they're trying to pressure Congress to make that happen. Casey Wian, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.