Vme, one of America’s largest Spanish networks, partnered Tuesday with KLRN and the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists to record “Immigration: Journalists in Conversation, ” a discussion moderated by Victor Landa, columnist for the San Antonio-Express News. Panelists included Alicia Conde, Spanish copy editor for La Prensa de San Antonio, Monica Navarro, anchor of Univision Channel 41 and Hernan Rozemberg, Texas Public Radio reporter for Fronteras: The Changing America Desk.
Following the panel, reporter Yesenia Camacho interviewed Alicia Conde to understand more about the current debate on immigration.
Q: How does it make you feel to see statutes such as Senate Bill 1070 emerging in present day America?
Conde: I feel like we are regressing, like everything that civil rights activists like Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez fought for went out the door.
Q: What impact do you feel Senate Bill 1070 will have on Arizona?
Conde: It’s already affecting the economy in Arizona. Many conventions and entertainment events were canceled as a way to protest the law. Workers moved from Arizona to other states, meaning they will take their money to spend elsewhere.
Q: How do you feel both as a journalist and human being to know that children who are born to immigrant parents will not be granted citizenship?
Conde: This question is easier to answer as a human being. I am a proud American and product of two hard working, law abiding, tax paying undocumented immigrants that are now U.S. citizens. Therefore, I can relate to the possible affected children. With that said, I think that besides being unconstitutional, it’s absurd. It goes against the foundation of this country, a country of immigrants. I also don’t understand the logistics of how this would work out. For example, what is going to be the citizenship of the children, if per say, one parent is from Mexico and the other from Cuba? I think it’s ridiculous.
As a journalist, I doubt it will pass. But if it does, it will be news field day.
Q: What are the immediate and long term effects of a divided household in which only a few of a household’s members are illegal immigrants?
Conde: One of the immediate effects includes the daily fear that these families live with. When families say good-bye in the morning before heading out to school or work, they don’t know if they’ll come back home that evening, or if they are going to be caught in an immigration raid. There is also a financial impact. Due to the lack of legal documentation, providers take whatever job they can find—many times with low wages and subhuman working conditions. As for long term, I think the longer they remain in the country, the harder it is to leave when deportation comes. And the harder it will be for them to readapt to the living conditions in Mexico.
Q: How reasonable do you believe it is for the government to make use of statutes such as Arizona’s SB 1070 in order to make America less vulnerable to the drug war taking place across in Mexico?
Conde: It is pretty unreasonable. I think that for the most part, this law will affect working immigrants and not the drug trafficking criminals. It is my belief that until America stops consuming a large amount of drugs, the problem will persist.
Q: How effective do you believe Arizona’s SB 1070 is in relation to its safeguarding of our American borders?
Conde: It is very ineffective. Arizona’s border covers a mere 370 miles of the 1,969 mile long U.S. –Mexico Border. People that want to get across will, because the border is very porous. Besides, there is more to safeguarding our borders than just keeping immigrants from crossing into the United States. Just two weeks ago, the world saw a video of how drug traffickers catapulted marihuana into American land. Until they figure out a way to keep the drugs out and all the implications that come with it, in my opinion, the border is very insecure.
Q: How do you respond to the implications of a panel with an overall liberal perspective? Does a lack of balance in the panel construction makes this discussion biased and therefore possibly invalid?
Conde: I think it’s valid because the purpose of this panel was to share our views on the topic of immigration as journalists. It was not a debate. For the most part, I think many of us held our opinions and answered the questions based on our experience while covering a story. Many questions were also answered in accordance to what is being reported in the media locally and across the nation. I think you will see the difference in the way I answered questions yesterday and the way I answer the ones you are asking me with the liberty of telling you how I feel as a human being and not a journalist.