Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wedding Announcemet as Immigration Editorial

Is a wedding announcement the right place for a political statement?

With the feature about Perla Farias and David Portugal, Jr.'s nuptials last week, the New York Times certainly thought so.  The couple, 21 and 22 years old, lamented that the undocumented immigrant members of their extended family of 400 were too skittish to attend their Goodyear, Arizona wedding.  It wasn't travel, expense or illness preventing their attendance--but fear of deportation occasioned by the recently-adopted state law empowering law enforcement to verify immigration status.

The bride and groom sound like great, idealistic kids.  They're both in college and met through their Catholic church.  They bonded in their youth group, soon spending Sunday afternoons "taking long walks, discussing the book they were reading--or immigration raids."  His early gift to her was a portrait he painted from a photo in which she's wearing a t-shirt emblazoned, "Think: It isn't illegal yet."

Their relationship matured as they became "partners in community activism."  The new Mrs. Portugal's family came to the US illegally, but received "amnesty under a 1986 federal immigration reform bill."  (That would have been two years into the second term of Pres. Reagan, about three years before she was born.)  Mr. Portugal is a fourth-generation Mexican-American from Los Angeles.

Not only do I congratulate the young couple and wish them well, but I have no problem with The Times highlighting their interest in pro-immigrant activism.  What I found surprising, however, was the article's unrelenting slant--opening with "The marriage of Perla Farias and David Portugal Jr. in Goodyear, Ariz, was marked as much by those who didn't attend as it was by the more than 250 guests who did." It leaps from there into a lament about the two dozen undocumented-immigrant relations of Ms. Farias too nervous about the not-yet-enacted Arizona clamp-down to show their faces at the celebration.

Personally, I don't think the new Arizona law was a good idea, for a variety of reasons, and I sympathize with the hard-workers who risk everything coming to the US for a better life. (I also think the federal lawsuit against the Arizona bill is a waste of taxpayer money, since the law's sure to be challenged anyway.)

Illegal immigrants would gladly come legally if they could--but receiving documentation for average people to emigrate from Mexico to the US is nearly impossible, given Mexico's corruption greased by bribery at each step of the process.  The people who leave family behind, take our least-desirable jobs (and are even willing to live in the shadows) are not unlike those in generations past who boarded crowded ships with similar hopes--they share the American spirit of self-determination founded on willingness to take chances and put in effort.

The mothers of "anchor babies" want those children to live where they have the best chance for success and the most opportunity.  Is America the greatest nation on God's green earth? Ask them.

Still, I blanched seeing the blatantly political message featured on the wedding announcements page.  Just another reminder that the press has become as openly biased as anyone else, and doesn't mind inserting its editorial content everywhere it can.


  1. I'm glad to read your (articulate, insightful, and compassionate, as usual) take on immigration reform - or at least on the Arizona law. Your critique of politics on the wedding announcement page is particularly intriguing to me as I'm finishing up a project looking at politics and economics of weddings! I'm not sure I'd prefer there be a sharp divide between reporting on politics and reporting on weddings, but I agree that editorializing on the announcement page in a purportedly neutral paper is off. Thanks for all your good thinking, writing, and sharing! ~~Rini

  2. Hi Diane - I wanted to pass along to you a weekly read of mine, in addition to the NY Times weddings... I can thank you for the addiction. It's a little crass, a little clever, though sometimes weighing more heavily in one direction than the other. Enjoy! ~ Jen

    (I hope the link works)

  3. Thanks, Rini, compliments appreciated!
    Jennifer, the link didn't work but I was so curious I cut-and-pasted...and laughed, guffawed, chortled and giggled. I do think the NYT Style writers have a marvelous evil little twist in their announcements. "The groom's previous two marriages ended in divorce, as did the bride's." Go Harvard!