The media's immigration blunders

Posted: Jun 05, 2002 12:00 AM
"ILLEGAL ALIEN QUESTIONED IN CHANDRA LEVY CASE." Did you miss that headline in the news last week? Well, that's because no one ran it. Ingmar Guandique, a violent Salvadoran national who is serving a 10-year sentence for assaulting two female joggers in Washington's Rock Creek Park last year, was interrogated recently as part of the investigation into the intern murder mystery. But in my review of all 115 news items archived in the Lexis-Nexis database that mention Guandique in connection with the Levy case, not a single story referred to his status as a criminal illegal alien. The Associated Press described Guandique merely as an "immigrant"; The New York Times called him a "Washington man." On the basic questions of where Guandique came from, how he got here and how he managed to stay, The Washington Post -- the mainstream media giant closest to the scene of Guandique's crimes -- has printed nothing at all. Though Guandique reportedly passed lie detector tests, he remains an unofficial person of interest in the Levy case. D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey says the media is making too big a deal of Guandique. Quite the contrary. The glaring omission of Guandique's immigration status from the mainstream media's no-stone-unturned Levy coverage is a newsworthy act of negligence as the nation grapples with lax borders and national (in)security. Only one media outlet, the invaluable Washington, D.C.-based newsweekly Human Events, has published the pertinent facts. Editor Terry Jeffrey reported this week that not only is Guandique an illegal alien, but also that the INS had given him a green light to work in the country legally while his application for "Temporary Protected Status (TPS)" was pending. Guandique's TPS application was eventually denied, but not before he committed two brutal attacks in the same park where Chandra Levy's body was found. TPS is basically a bad-weather pass into the United States. Whenever a natural disaster strikes, we allow thousands of foreigners to stay here -- mostly from Latin America -- while their homelands supposedly recover. But the INS doesn't track down TPS beneficiaries once their status expires. Worse, INS chief James Ziglar recently remarked during a trip to the Mexican border that it would be neither "reasonable" nor "practical" to deport millions of illegal aliens who have snuck across the borders, violated their visas or overstayed on TPS. How many future Guandiques (or Attas or Almidhars) are among them? Ziglar doesn't seem to care. He's too busy nullifying the immigration laws he's supposed to enforce. The public deserves informed analysis of whether fraud-ridden immigration programs such as Temporary Protected Status and other various forms of amnesty have come at the expense of our public safety and the national interest. But how can the question be answered if the press never asks? Instead of hard-nosed analysis, observed author William McGowan at a forum on immigration and media coverage hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., last week, journalists maintain an "overly romantic" view of the issue. McGowan's penetrating new book, "Coloring the News," documents how political correctness has corrupted coverage of myriad policy issues, including immigration. He noted superficial reporting of airport security and visa screening issues in the pro-illegal alien New York Times before September 11, sympathetic stories on providing driver's licenses to illegal aliens, and the flippant title of a bleeding-heart New York Times magazine cover piece a few years back: "What Immigration Crisis?" Another panel member and veteran immigration analyst, Lodi (Calif.) News-Sentinel columnist Joe Guzzardi, reported on the results of a 1,500-article review he conducted for, a grass-roots reform group, to gauge fairness and balance of immigration coverage. "Very few stories met the reporters' definition of fair and balanced," he said. Most news stories are frontloaded with quotes from illegal immigration and open borders advocates, while opposing views are buried and marginalized. Indeed, most editors still can't even bring themselves to use the term "illegal," preferring the flagrantly biased euphemism "undocumented." Questions about the adequacy of immigration news coverage, as the Center for Immigration Studies noted, are no longer academic. It's "a matter of life and death." When will the media take off the rose-colored blinders and start reporting the true costs of our continuing, criminal-friendly immigration policies?