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Immigrants Of The Day: David Nunez of Mexico, Helene Cooper of Liberia, and Gov. John Peter Altgeld of Germany

by Kevin R. Johnson

David Nunez (Mexico)

Nunez110x165_2 Our Immigrant of the Day is David Nunez, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army who was killed in action on May 29, 2008 in Shewan, Afghanistan.  Born in Mexico, David's hometown was Los Angeles.  He left behind two children.

The Department of Defense has reported that Nunez died May 29, 2008 in Shewan, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when he encountered small-arms fire while conducting combat operations.  For more details, see here.

Nunez was a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha team engineer sergeant assigned to Company B, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Ft. Bragg, N.C. He in Afghanistan in May for his second deployment to the country. He had also served in Iraq and Kosovo.

Nunez enlisted as an airborne infantryman in February 1999. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division and a military intelligence company before earning his Green Beret. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, three Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, two Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab and the Special Forces Tab.

September 22, 2008 | Permalink

Helene Cooper (Liberia)

51wrstevl__sl500_aa240__2 Born in 1966 in Monrovia, Liberia, Helene Cooper has been the diplomatic correspondent for The New York Times since 2006. She joined the Times in 2004. From 1992-2004, Cooper was with The Wall Street Journal.  Cooper has appeared on the television show ImagesWashington Week in Review.

Cooper came to the United States at 14 years of age.  She earened her undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

In 2008, Cooper published a memoir entitled The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood. The memoir is largely about the Liberian coup of 1980 and its effect on the Cooper family.  It chronicles the social evolution of Liberia through the eyes of Ms. Cooper's family, which is descended from African American slaves who emigrated to Liberia in the 19th century.  For a N.Y. Times review of the book, click here.

Cooper became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1997.

September 15, 2008 | Permalink

Gov. John Peter Altgeld (Germany)

AltgeldWe have found a most appropriate Immigrant of the Day for Labor Day 2008.  John Peter Altgeld (1847-1902) (bio) was born in Germany and came with his family to the United States when he was three. Altgeld read the law and was admitted to the bar in 1872. He had moved to Chicago, where he established himself as a lawyer. Altgeld ran for a Cook County Superior Court judgeship in 1886 and won with the backing of both the Democratic and Labor Parties. His election was held in the wake of the hanging of four of the defandants convicted in the Haymarket Square bombings (a bomb had been thrown at police as they marched to disperse a public meeting in support of striking workers) at a time when anti-labor sentiment ran very high. He resigned his judgeship in 1891.

Altgeld was elected Governor of Illinois in 1893. It was the first time a Democrat had been elected governor since 1856, the first time a foreign-born citizen had been elected, and the first time a Chicago resident had been elected in Illinois.

In June 1893, Altgeld pardoned the three living Haymarket bombers. Altgeld concluded that the accused had not been granted their constitutional right to a fair and impartial trial and that the evidence presented in the case was not sufficient to convict them. Altgeld was overwhelmingly condemned in the press for his action.   Even his citizenship was challenged.

Nearly one year later, another incident involving labor brought Altgeld into the national limelight. On May, 11, 1894, workers of the Pullman Corporation, the manufacturer of railroad cars, went on strike in protest of wage cuts. Gov. Altgeld refused to allow the Illinois militia to be used as strike breakers or to visit violence upon the strikers.  U.S. Army troops went sent to Illinois. Gov. Altgeld demanded the withdrawal of Federal troops on the grounds that their presence was unconstitutional. On July 6, violence broke out in Chicago. The strike collapsed the next day as its leaders were arrested under the terms of the injunction. Once again, Altgeld was slammed in the press.

Altgeld believed that fellow Democrat, Grover Cleveland, whom he had supported in 1884, was anti-labor. Altgeld was determined to run Cleveland and his ilk out of the Democratic Party.

Governor Altgeld's views could be found in the 1896 Democratic platform. The platform included a pro-labor plank, an anti-injunction plank, a plank on personal and civil liberties, and a plank reaffirming the principles of federalism, a direct reference to the Pullman strike. This made Altgeld a prime target for Republicans nationwide during the campaign. He was denounced as an anarchist, socialist, foreigner, and murderer.  Altgeld himself was running for reelection and lost.

September 1, 2008 | Permalink

These posts were orginally posted on the ImmigrationProf Blog here, here and here.

About The Author

Kevin R. Johnson is currently Dean, Professor of Law and Chicana/o Studies, and the Mabie-Apallas Public Interest Law Chair holder at the University of California at Davis. He is also one of the editors of ImmigrationProf Blog.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.