Monday, May 27, 2024 May 27, 2024
77° F Dallas, TX



On Tuesday, Diario La Estrella, the Spanish-language daily from the Star-Telegram, published a strong editorial supporting our February cover story, “Mexican Invasion.”

In Wednesday’s edition, the paper followed with a front-page story about how the piece was written, and includes reactions–from the League of Women Voters, José Ángel Gutiérrez (a founder of the La Raza Party) and others–on how it has been received. The English translation, again from our friends at Liaison Language Center, is below, but the article is favorable, and makes the case for the importance of more stories on the impact of migration.

Perhaps equally important is the connection between major, separately owned English and Spanish language publications in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This is new ground here, but will be well-traveled in the coming years. Congratulations to La Estrella for helping take the first steps in this symbiotic evolution.


Investigative report by local magazine focuses on undocumented immigrants


Last March, hundreds of thousands in Dallas marched in protest, demanding that federal legislators approve immigration reform granting legal status to some 11 million undocumented workers. Archive Photo.


DALLAS — In recent months, undocumented immigration, once an issue tackled from the national perspective, has become a topic of daily discussion in the Metroplex.

For many, the detonator was the controversy generated in the suburb of Farmers Branch, resulting from the passing of an ordinance, which prohibited rental of property to undocumented immigrants, and a resolution, which established English as the suburb’s official language.
Finding himself in a very different city, where the change has, in large part, been determined by the presence of this group of people, sparked the idea in Rod Davis, editor of the monthly D Magazine, of proposing to the publication to write about undocumented immigrants for the first time in its 33 years of history.
“I wanted to do an article that reflected how Latinos have changed the face of Dallas,” said Davis, author of the report: “Mexican Invasion: What It Means to You and Why Dallas Needs It,” the centerpiece of the February edition of D Magazine.
The magazine, directed at an English-speaking audience, of which 70 percent are university-educated women who own property, arrived in subscriber’s hands last week and had started being sold the previous weekend.
Davis added to his initial premise the controversy surrounding the possession or not of legal documents, a point suggested by Wick Allison, also an editor. [note: Allison is the publisher and editor of D]
“I didn’t know where I would arrive, but I was very fortunate to find a variety of topics that fit together enough to reflect the complexity of undocumented immigration,” Davis said.
The nine-page report took Davis close to three months of research, and in the process, he bumped up against the “invisibility” of the group of people he was attempting to reveal.
“The most difficult thing was finding information about people who are statistically invisible. Many times, I found contradictory data and had to get used to the idea that the objective was to get simple estimates,” he added.
For José Ángel Gutiérrez, Doctor of Political Science and professor at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), the difficulties facing Davis when he tried to quantify this group of people were not a novelty.
“Since 1940, our figures, our people, the Mexican and Latin immigrants, have been mixed together with the whites. There is no separate category for counting us, so, to extrapolate real figures is an act of patience and guesswork,” Gutiérrez said.
In his article, Davis points out that one in every ten residents in Dallas is an undocumented immigrant and among those, he estimates that between four and six are Mexicans.
“I believe that the influence of Mexicans is growing day by day in this city. It’s evident. That’s why I resolved to focus myself on this,” he stated.
Gutiérrez seconds Davis’s theory. “In Texas, we have to speak principally about Mexicans when we refer to immigration, not only in the field of illegality, but also when we take into account that these days we’re the group seeking naturalization the most,” Gutiérrez explained.
Davis’s report also caused reader response.
“Someone called to tell me that now that I’d written about how good undocumented immigrants were, I should dedicate myself to writing about the bad they represent,” Davis commented.
For Caroline Brettell, interim dean of Dedman College and author of various studies on immigrants in the Metroplex, that type of reaction is not surprising, since when one deals with such a sensitive topic, words can inflame passions even more.
“Expressions, such as ‘flood the schools’ or ‘invasion’ used when referring to undocumented immigrants, stir up passions and generate a particular response in the reader, as if they refer to a natural disaster we find it very difficult to control, even though that isn’t the writer’s position,” Brettell said.
For Davis, the message of his report is clear.
“I hope that people who read this report realize that illegal immigration is not a question that can be seen in black and white,” he said.
“I hope when they read it, people really understand what undocumented immigrants mean to this city,” he added.
Davis’s investigation also produced data, such as that in Dallas, 70 percent of the work force making up the construction sector does not have legal documents.
“You can’t simply remove all of these people and hope the economy isn’t hurt,” he said.
A journey like Davis’s has kept Katherine Homan of the League of Women Voters (LMV) in Dallas busy for about nine months.
“Every day you open the paper and see a new angle on this issue,” Homan said, who is taking part in a two-year project of study, which is analyzing the impact of the undocumented immigrants on Dallas.
“Up till now, we are just beginning; we are moving into terrain where each time we see more and more sides. It is a complex topic where thousands of topics converge,” Homan said.
The LWV study is an extensive analysis of what Davis addresses in his report. “The D Magazine article is an excellent starting point. It is part of the chain of analysis which should create a real framework for interpreting what we are experiencing,” Homan said.
After writing nine pages on the topic, Davis was clear that he could have done twice as much and that there were more angles to explore.
“To continuing investigating is to continue moving forward into the future we will have to experience. I only hope that, through this type of work, we will discover the true root of an issue concerning us all,” he concluded.