By editorial board • 

Immigration agents muzzle critics in the ‘land of the free’

When an undocumented immigrant named Yesenia shared her story with the News-Register in February, she feared a simple unpaid parking ticket might expose her to immigration agents and thus separate her from her children forever.

Angel, another undocumented immigrant, told us in September how he feared being deported, even though the United States is the only home he has known since his family brought him here when he was 6.

We didn’t report their surnames because their worst nightmares might have come true if we had, as federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have begun targeting people who dare to talk to reporters. And that outcome ought to send a chill down the spine of anyone who has ever pledged allegiance to “liberty and justice for all.”

ICE officials deny retaliating against people who share their stories through the press, but don’t try selling that brand of fertilizer to Baltazar “Rosas” Aburto Gutierrez. The last interview he gave was from the Northwest Detention Center. It followed one with the Seattle Times where the paper only identified him by his nickname — a nickname used in an otherwise unrelated story the Chinook Observer wrote on his girlfriend.

That information was enough for ICE agents to tag him. He went to a grocery store in Ocean Park, Washington, where he heard the last words he would hear as a free man.

“You’re Rosas,” an ICE agent said. “You’re the one from the newspaper.”

Many Americans couldn’t care less about the rights of undocumented immigrants. They are illegal aliens, after all, here only because they broke the law. And the rule of law is sacrosanct.

However, if you truly embrace that concept, consider the other rule of law at stake here — one so important the founders enshrined it in the First Amendment.
People need to be able to share stories with the free press without fear of reprisal. Otherwise, government agents can operate secretly beyond the reach of public scrutiny and criticism. That dark path can only lead to totalitarianism.

While ICE agents are after any and all undocumented immigrants, the Gutierrez case demonstrates a clear attempt to frighten critics into silence and make it harder for reporters to share people’s stories. Those stories help us all understand what is happening in “the land of free.”

Without those stories, we are truly in the dark.

Comments

americanPATRIOT

Illegal immigrants should be detained and so should anyone who obstructs the enforcement of federal law.

americanPATRIOT

Illegal immigrants should be detained and so should anyone who obstructs the enforcement of federal law.

country97

Thank you AmericanPATRIOT

Joel2828

Couldn't get past the first sentence because of the disingenuous phrase "undocumented immigrant." That's akin to calling a shoplifter at wal-mart an "unreceipted shopper." Or someone who is breaking federal tax laws an "un 1040'd tax payer."

tagup

The current estimate of undocumented immigrants in the US is over 11 million. Where exactly would you like to detain them? Your point overlooks the reality of the situation.....but carry on...

country97

tagup. How about the country where they are citizens.

tagup

Many countries including China won't take them back....

Then again, how do you get them there?... and who pays the tab?.....11 million people......that's like "detaining" every person in the state of Ohio....(plus another 1/2 million....)

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