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My view: Balanced coverage of immigration needed in media

By Janalee Tobias

Published: Friday, Dec. 14 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

In this Sept. 26, 2011 photo, college student Jasmine Oliver, of Warwick, R.I., top left, and Javier Gonzalez, of Pawtucket, R.I., top right, display a banner and shout their support for allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates while attending public colleges in the state, during a Board of Governors of Higher Education meeting on the campus of the Community College of Rhode Island, in Warwick, R.I.

Steven Senne, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

We as citizens are frustrated.

Why is it that Paul Mero and Mark Shurtleff seem to be the only people that the news media interviews about immigration?

When the media allows Mero and Shurtleff and others to paint people who are against illegal immigration with a broad brush to imply that we are all against legal immigration, it harms the state of Utah.

I don't know one person who is against legal immigration.

The Compact is about legal immigration.

I have tried to get the media to cover the fact that The Compact, now in its second year, has a little more than 5,000 signatures. The Lawful Employment Act garnered 31,000 signatures in less than one year. The Lawful Employment Act would have required all employers to use e-verify. I was one of the volunteers who helped gather these signatures. We gathered them one by one. We heard the personal stories of legal U.S. citizens who can't get jobs because they're being underbid by illegal immigrants. Every signature has a story.

I don't think employers are going to hire legal immigrants once they're granted amnesty. Businesses will hire illegal immigrants. That's the point. They exploit cheap labor.

It seems our politicians and even the media turn a blind eye to problems caused by illegal immigration.

As a member of the Utah Commission on Immigration and Migration, I arranged for several guest speakers to address the UCIM. For one of the meetings, I put together what I believe was a minor miracle: Unions and non-union members in the same room, all testifying that cheap labor is destroying hope for the future of America. I would think this would be healing to the people of Utah -— to have diverse groups coming together for the future of America. Barely a mention in the media even though I sent out a news release to a couple dozen media outlets.

The Deseret News published a nice story on this and also mentioned John Bowers testifying about his son, Jonathan, the EMT from West Valley City, who was killed by a drunk foreign national/illegal alien ("Commission studying illegal immigration impacts, Aug. 13).

A few months ago, I found an essay I had written 30 years ago while attending Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho). The essay, "Raspberry Man," is about a Danish immigrant who taught me the value of hard work. I was not allowed to present this paper at the UCIM and was even told I could not pass out the essay to its members.

A blogger picked up the essay and posted it online. Here's the link:

immigrationutah.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-raspberry-man-proud-immigrant.html

I'm asking media outlets to please interview other sources about immigration, not just a few sources like Mero and Shurtleff. After all, they receive money and salaries from sources who profit from exploiting cheap labor.

At the very least, it would be helpful for Utahns to know the difference between legal and illegal immigration. And ask reporters to quit using the term "immigrant" or "immigration" when they're doing a story about illegal immigration. The citizens in Utah are especially compassionate to legal immigration, and it's very unfortunate when we lump illegal and legal immigration into the same category.

Janalee Tobias is a recipient of the 2011 Roy B. Gibson Freedom of Information award.

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