Television Portrayals And The 2006 Mid-Term Elections
Politicians in both parties continue to try and de-humanize immigrants in this country as they play to voters' worst instincts. And "journalists" on the cable networks have raised the anti-immigrant rant to a new art form, At least in
Recently, for example, on the top new ABC series Ugly Betty, Betty’s father is forced to explain to his daughter that he has been using a false social security number for years because he is an undocumented immigrant. The news is a revelation to Betty. While many may not see this as being realistic, I’ve had many consultations over the years with children who only found out as adults that their parents lacked legal status. Of course, the immigration lawyer in me is wondering if Betty herself is an undocumented immigrant. Doing a little math, it seems pretty unlikely that Betty was born in the
The popular comedy My Name is Earl features Nadine Velazquez as the popular Catalina. Like Betty’s father, she also has a "coming out" in an episode where she reveals her illegal immigration status. The irreverent show then went on tell the character’s story of arriving in the
Longtime hit ER has for several years featured storylines involving foreign physicians, nurses and patients. Goran Visnjic’s Dr. Luka Kovac character is a Croatian refugee and the facts that led to his fleeing for the
One of my favorite shows on television is 30 Days on FX, a show from Morgan Spurlock, the director of the hit documentary Supersize Me. The show explores major public issues in a unique "fish out of water" context by sending someone into a dramatically different environment. For example, the show’s premiere last year had its director and his wife move to a
And it’s not just prime time television that has explored the topic. My kids watch the very popular Disney Channel show Suite Life with Zack and Cody. The series’ most recent episode dealt entirely with the naturalization of one of the regular characters and how difficult that process is.
Late night television has poked fun of the anti-immigration blowhards in
Vicente Fox, by the way, was portrayed by none other than immigrant actor Antonio Banderas. That episode aired the same week as the big immigration protests around the country. In a later part of the show, Banderas talks with Hispanic cast members Fred Armisted and Horatio Sanz about how they grew up with their plan to come to the US, steal American jobs, stab people and make babies.
And then there is Craig Fergusen, host of the Late Show on CBS, who was actually an undocumented immigrant himself and who is not afraid to talk about his past. Fergusen, by the way, starred in one of the funniest immigration-themed sitcom episodes of all time when he played Drew Carey’s boss in the popular ABC series The Drew Carey Show. Fergusen pressures Drew to go to
The election is getting closer and there are plenty of reasons to believe that the US House of Representatives will be won by the Democrats. Many Republicans thought they would "own" the immigration issue by taking a hardline position proclaiming their opposition to an "amnesty" and advocating for the building of a 50 foot-high wall along the US and Canadian borders. But this issue is not playing as well as the anti-immigrant politicians hoped.
Polls are showing that Democrats are trusted more on the immigration issue. And only a small portion of the public – just 7% according to one recent poll – consider immigration the most important issue this election cycle. Regardless of who wins the election, members of Congress will have a hard time making the case that this election gave them an anti-immigration mandate. That will especially be true if Congressman John Hostettler, the very anti-immigration chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee loses his seat, something that is now looking very likely.
That’s not to say that immigration is still not factoring in to the campaigns. Just about every candidate in the country has been talking about how much they will do to "secure the border." But that’s like saying you’re against crime and for a strong economy. The Democratic and Republican comprehensive immigration reform bills that moved in Congress this year ALL had strong border security components. What most races are not discussing is how to deal with the large undocumented population in the
There was also a rather ugly immigration story this week as well that involved the coming congressional election. In
Finally, a lot of candidates have figured out that millions of immigrants have naturalized in the last few years and are deeply pro-immigration. The numbers are dramatic enough that these new voters – often underrepresented in polling – could tip many close elections around the country.
Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.