In Alabama, Univision Prefers to Inflame Rather than Inform

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on October 13, 2011

Emotions are high among illegal immigrants in Alabama, as many flee the state whose governor recently signed the most severe law in the country against illegal immigrants. It is a situation that calls for serious journalism to inform the public about a complex and sensitive situation. Unfortunately, the reports of Univision reporter Maria Antonieta Collins seem intended to inflame, not to inform.

Collins presents the story as a melodrama, in which the noble but helpless illegal immigrants are victimized by a cruel and heartless government. She acknowledges no legitimacy in the concerns that prompted the state to act against illegal immigration. She frames the story not as a complex statewide struggle over the meaning of justice in an era of large-scale illegal immigration, but as a struggle for civil rights and a tale of justice denied. It is a story in black and white, featuring government villains and Hispanic victims.

Last week, a Collins's report included footage from the 1960s of police dogs being turned upon civil rights demonstrators in Alabama.

For last night's evening news Collins stood beneath a statue in Birmingham that shows a snarling police dog leaping at a young Black man. Said Collins: "While statues like this one recall episodes in the war for civil rights that occurred here in Birmingham, the Hispanics trapped without documents are calling for the consulates of their countries, saying they have had scant or nonexistent presence here."

Collins has no interest in speaking with those who might defend Alabama's new law. Last night she described ALVerify, the state's program requiring employers to confirm workers' legal status, as "the most lethal weapon against any undocumented immigrant who wants to live in Alabama." She followed that with this over-the-top comment by Auburn University associate professor Pamela Long: "It is as if we were living in the Warsaw ghetto. They are counting the people. They are restricting their movements. They are marking them as if they were animals to be sacrificed."

This isn't journalism. It's propaganda.