The New York Times continued its push for immigration "reform" in Thursday's edition. The front of the National section included a page-width photo of "tens of thousands of immigrants, Latinos, union members, gay rights and other advocates" who rallied at the Capitol Wednesday.
Reporters Julia Preston and Ashley Parker, among the most slanted on the paper's staff, used even higher figures for the march while covering the so-called Group of 8's deal on an immigration amnesty bill, "Bipartisan Senators’ Group Reaches Deal on Immigration Bill." The phrasing was awkward, as vagueness (there are no official crowd estimates) grasped for specificity: "several tens of thousands of immigrants..."
Meanwhile, the Washington Post only found "thousands" at the local rally, as did Reuters, while even the avowedly liberal journalism site Talking Points Memo only found "tens of thousands" at the rally, putting the Times on the high side of attendance estimates. Now why would the paper want to do that?
The Times also skipped the suspicious softening of the allegedly tough "triggers" previously used to assure conservatives that border enforcement would be secured before illegal immigrants would be granted citizenship.
A bipartisan group of senators has largely agreed on a broad immigration bill that would require tough border measures to be in place before illegal immigrants could take the first steps to become American citizens, according to several people familiar with drafts of the legislation.
But in a delicate compromise worked out over weeks of negotiations, the bill does not impose any specific measurements of border enforcement results that, if they were not met, would stop the immigrants from proceeding toward citizenship.
Instead, the bill allows a period of 10 years for the Department of Homeland Security to make plans and use resources to fortify enforcement at the borders and elsewhere within the country before it sets several broader hurdles that could derail the immigrants’ progress toward citizenship if they are not achieved.
As the group of eight senators continued on Wednesday to iron out final details of the legislation, several tens of thousands of immigrants, Latinos, labor union members, gay rights and other advocates held a rally on the lawn below the steps of the Capitol. With many waving American flags, they called for Congress to move quickly and demanded a direct path to citizenship for all 11 million illegal immigrants.
“Families cannot continue to be torn apart,” Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland, an immigrant advocacy group, told the crowd.
An editorial Thursday by board member Lawrence Downes, "Hope Leaves the Shadows of the Capitol," hit hard on the paper's annoyingly ubiquitous "out of the shadows" metaphor, which suggests freeing illegal immigrants from fear of the law. Downes also pumped up the crowd figures.
The mood on Wednesday on the west lawn of the Capitol was jubilant, just as it had been in January when people in overcoats and blankets squinted in frosty sunlight at Jumbotrons showing President Obama’s second inauguration. This time, the day was loose and bright and tropical, made for the banishing of shadows.
The expected crowd was officially 30,000, though it seemed as if thousands more than that poured in all day. By midafternoon they spilled beyond the reflecting pool and down the National Mall.
The event was organized by Casa de Maryland, an immigrant-rights organization, and the Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. Maryland has shown some real vision in recent months. Its voters passed a referendum allowing in-state tuition for the undocumented, and, last week, the Legislature approved driver’s licenses for unauthorized immigrants.
Congress has come close to passing major reform but repeatedly failed, and, in recent years, it has seemed all but unthinkable. Now it seems possible, maybe imminent.
When the history of the immigrant-rights movement is written, it will include those who made the tide turn. It was groups like Casa de Maryland and the day laborers they organized -- the workers who couldn’t hide because there are no shadows on street corners.