January 18, 2008

Panic In Waukegan


This image appeared in Friday’s NYT  about a deportation panic in Waukegan.

After local police were trained to begin deportation hearings on immigrants with a criminal record, rumors spread that any undocumented person pulled over by the police was also at risk.  Several recent raids have only added to the anxiety level.  The offshoot is that undocumented Hispanics and their legal relatives or loved ones are living in fear and have begun dropping out of public life.

The backstory on the image is as follows:

Miriam M. and her husband, married in 2004, own a tidy house on a peaceful street and are raising four children from previous marriages, all United States citizens. He runs his own landscaping company, paying business and property taxes.

Even though Miriam M. is a citizen, it is difficult for her husband to obtain legal papers, since he entered illegally from Mexico 12 years ago. She did not focus on her husband’s illegal status when she first met him.

Now he stays close to home and avoids downtown Waukegan, driving around the city limits when he can.

The physical symbolism is actually quite broad, making similar, but distinct references to: “pulling in,” “clinging” and trying to “hold on.” 

With the immigration issue having devolved into little more than a paranoid fanning of the ideological fires, this image speaks to the rising emotional fallout.

Facing Deportation but Clinging to Life in U.S. (NYT)

Slide show feature (NYT)

(image: Sally Ryan for the NYT.  2007.  Waukegan, Ill.  nytimes.com)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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