Blogs vs. reality

Dissecting the immigrant backlash
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  April 13, 2006

HERE TO STAY: The scene on Boston Common last Saturday.They came, they marched, they chanted. Now they wait.

Calling for immigration reform, between 5000 and 7000 immigrants and their supporters assembled here in Boston on Monday, and hundreds of thousands gathered in cities nationwide, including Washington, DC; New York; Dallas; and San Francisco. Now, the country’s illegal immigrants will have to wait and see what — if anything — their rallies accomplished, as it will be at least a week and a half until the Senate, which is on recess, takes up the issue again.

In the interim, we’re in for some rowdy rhetorical invective from both sides. On Tuesday, immigration foes went wild over the gatherings, and we found a few instances of disconnect between blogosphere bloviating and what really happened:

Assertion: “The Irish are not protesting. The Irish assimilated, 99% of them did so as legal immigrants.” (

Reality: It’s true that a majority of Monday’s rally participants were Hispanic, but (not surprisingly) the Boston-based Irish Immigration Center (IIC) had a sizable presence as well. All smiles, a group of about 100 immigrants stood behind an IIC banner, waving Irish flags alongside American ones.

“Instead of pretending that they don’t exist, they’re coming out of the shadows,” said Lena Deevy, a 61-year-old Irish immigrant who came to the United States 15 years ago and who has been a citizen for a decade. “We need to listen to what they have to say.”

Assertion: “There were, of course, no identifiable [Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)] agents or any other [Department of Homeland Security] personnel in sight. All in all, it was a great day to be an illegal alien in the nation’s capital.” (

Reality: These rallies weren’t used as roundups. (A representative from the ICE’s Boston Public Affairs Field Office did not return calls about whether or not any immigrants were detained at Boston’s event.) But fear of deportation is exactly what spurred thousands of illegal immigrants to take to the streets — in the hope of somehow eliminating that constant apprehension.

Take Federica Fuentes, an illegal Mexican immigrant who lives in Lynn and attended the rally with her husband and four children. She looked at me fearfully when I approached her for an interview, telling me, “Sometimes I’m scared.” She came downtown because she doesn’t want to be scared anymore.

Assertion: “Illegal aliens can’t seem to grasp that the only right they have in the United States is the right to remain silent, if that.... I hope illegals keep up the silly ‘demonstrations.’ ” (

Reality: Whatever else you want to call them, this week’s demonstrations were anything but “silly” — just ask nine-year-old Kevin Chavarriaga. On Boston Common, I asked his undocumented Colombian parents why they had come to the rally with their two children, and Kevin pulled my sleeve to pipe in, “I think we should stay. Life in South America won’t be as good, because South America is poor. We have a better life now. We have shoes. And we came for our freedom.”

Related: Critics target fight against real ID, In-state tuition for undocumented immigrants?, Taking a stand, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Politics, Domestic Policy, Political Policy,  More more >
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