As you read this please remember that this is more of a case-study in political dishonesty than an exposé. Treat this story as reason for everyone to make their first reaction one of caution and not sympathy. This is not the first time I’ve seen guests from news stories turn out to be unethically representative of a story (I’m talking to you NPR).
This morning (November 21, 2014) I was listening to Democracy Now!, hosted by Amy Goodman. DN is an admittedly left leaning show that I usually agree with on civil liberties and foreign policy but is just God awful on domestic and economic issues. They had two female guests, a mother and daughter from Seattle, Washington. There were discussed Obama’s announcement of executive action on immigrants who are parents of citizens, AKA “anchor babies”. The mother’s name is Maru Mora-Villalpando and the daughter was introduced as Josefina Mora. The initial question that was asked was about the mother’s citizenship status and whether Obama’s action would help Maru get on a path to citizenship. Maru explained that this would defer her situation but not protect her forever. They went on to talk about the politics surrounding immigration reform and Maru launched in to a tirade about how “Republicans have been really good at showing that they’re anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-poor, anti-children.” I’m not sure how republicans can be simultaneously anti-children and anti-abortion. Her description of a republican world is one where poor woman are forced to have babies they don’t want and can’t take care of who are then chained with their children to work the fields for 10 cents an hour. Obviously this is not the case, even for illegal immigrant farm workers. In fact, here in CT there is a day-labor pick up zone in Stamford of exit 8 of I-95 where people can stop by and pick up labor who will be paid in cash. The going rate for their services is about $17 an hour. The rate drops as the day gets later and guys get desperate. You can get someone to begrudgingly accept $13 around lunch time if you’re lucky. This is more than double the minimum wage being earned down the street (literally) by the predominantly african-american employees of McDonald’s.
In listening to the interview there were things that just didn’t add up. Alarm bells were going off all over the place, more questions being created than answers given. Most notably is their adept combined understanding of political manipulation and misrepresentation. This is not to mention the command of the english language with an excellent accent. The mother even used “rhetoric” in the proper usage and context. It was revealed in the interview that the daughter was 17. So now I’m thinking, “wait, the mother has been here at least 17 years as an educated woman and political activist and hasn’t even tried to become a citizen? Next I’m wondering where the daughter went to school because she sounds pretty privileged herself. The daughter, Josefina Mora explains how she has been following her mom since she was 3 and plans to be an activist just like her. She says that she is working to get her friends at school to “really get involved and to really use, especially my white friends, to use their white privilege and their power to really influence decisions that are made in the future.”
The interesting part of the interview for me is that there is not an ounce of thankfulness in her voice for having been able to live in this country and work unmolested, or that her daughter was able to attend school and grow up an American citizen when this is not possible in any other country in the world. Mexico puts illegal immigrants in prison for 2 years and repeat offenders for 10 years! Instead she had a tone of indignation and made more demands for permanent amnesty for everyone. They also demanded an end to deportations. An end! Forever!
I’ve known and worked alongside a lot of illegal immigrants over my early years in manual labor and we always got along, but they never had any interest in picking up the politics of the US. There is no way she’s just a hard working woman, here illegally who just wants to clean houses and be left alone. A quick search brings up Maru Mora-Villalpando’s LinkedIn profile. Not many illegals want to broadcast their illegal resume on LinkedIn, but ok, she’s an activist. She is college educated in Mexico City and has worked at 5 (5!) community programs of varying capacity since 200o-2010 at which point she became the CEO of Latino Advocacy, LLC, a for-profit consulting agency and lobbyist. Nice.
Next I looked up Mora’s daughter, Josefina. Since she’s only 17 I don’t want to look too hard to respect her rights as a minor, but I had a suspicion of a private school education due to her affluent speaking mannerism and reference to friends with “white privilege”. Searches for Josefina Mora turned up references to Josefina Alanis-Mora in a Facebook post by “Race and Social Justice Initiative” in Seattle. Different hyphenated name than mom, but could have had a different birth father, OR mom never married and her given name is hyphenated (how very feminist and VERY unusual for traditional Mexican woman). She was awarded the 2013 Youth Human Rights Award. Sounds like a match given that she said in the interview with DN that ” I have always organized with my mom. I kind of have followed her wherever I’ve gone—wherever she’s gone, since I was about three years old”. She was identified as a “social justice advocate and student at Northwest School”. Sounds like a match to me. Ok, another lead and on to Northwest School. It’s a swanky private school in Seattle that charges… wait for it… $32,680 per year for high school. Good for her! But how can an illegal immigrant mom pay for a private school when she portrays herself as living in constant fear of deportation and subject to unfair living conditions and sub-par wages? Well, wait a second. There IS financial aid. Except there’s one problem there, too. “We use the Parents’ Financial Statement, designed by the School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS), as well as the family’s complete tax returns, to determine the contribution your family should make towards educational expenses.” How could the school use Maru’s complete tax returns when she’s been an illegal immigrant for at least 17 years? Sure, there are many possibilities to investigate from here, but I’m not trying to prosecute Ms. Mora for a crime. I’m trying to get the point across that perhaps Josefina’s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness should probably elicit a little gratitude instead of just constant complaining and bitterness. It is clear that there is no place else on earth as welcoming and forgiving as long as you’re willing to mind your own business and work hard. Hell, I don’t even care that she hasn’t paid taxes in 17 years because I don’t think anyone should have to pay income taxes for wages (Profit from her LLC is another story). But let’s just get one thing straight, the United States is far from perfect and we have a legion of issues to work out, but it’s still chugging along allowing a reasonable facsimile of a peaceful life here at home. Maru, if you pursue your activist agenda to dilute the engine of prosperity as much you seem to desire you will end up with the same lawless hell-hole you escaped from.