A Full Page on the Migrant as a Hero – and a Misleading Bit of Journalism

By David North on June 21, 2016

Sunday's Washington Post carried more than a full page of coverage on a woman from Sierra Leone and her retail store — the top half of the Style section's first page was entirely covered by her photo, and there was a substantial amount of text on that page, and then another half page of text and pictures on the second page. Rarely does a previously unknown person get this kind of attention.

It dealt with her store and her adventures with the Department of Homeland Security (which we will get to in a minute), but totally missed what should have been a major element of her story.

The woman, Desiree Venn Frederick, has an extremely rare immigration distinction, which the Post either deliberately ignored or did not know about — though it would be totally visible from the text to the careful reader.

Frederick was granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as a child in this country, converting her at the time from the status of either a tourist or an illegal alien — the Post does not tell us. Many years later, after her TPS status had expired, and (apparently) she had been in the country for years illegally, she became the girlfriend of an alien embezzler (though she says she did not know that about him at the time.)

Then she was picked up by the DHS officers, briefly handcuffed, and placed in a detention center.

She was thus one of those extremely rare people who had been in TPS status at one point to be jailed later for her illegal presence. That is what the Post missed.

In short, she is the exception that tends to prove the rule laid out years ago by Mark Krikorian that "there is nothing so permanent as Temporary Protected Status." Something like 99 percent-plus of the aliens in current or past TPS status never encounter any enforcement actions at all.

When she got to immigration court, the usual rules of government behavior were restored; the DHS attorney, apparently deciding that she really did not know of the embezzlement, moved to grant her "protective asylum status" according to the Post. This was creative of the government as asylum is usually granted to people who would be in trouble were they to return to their homelands — and there was nothing to suggest that in this case.

So she does not have a green card, though she may be on the road to one. That she was probably in this country for a decade or so in illegal status is just not the sort of fact that interests the Post.

The shop sells used goods and some art and is called a vintage store. It is on New York Avenue, NE, in Washington, D.C.