We knew publishing a news story about South Valley residents demanding the closure of the Morgan Hill Immigration and Customs Enforcement office would be a sensitive one for some of our readers. Believe us, we got feedback. (Click on this link to read the story in our last issue of Morgan Hill Life.)
We received several emails strongly condemning us for publishing the story detailing the local impact from federal immigration policy and community activism. One of our readers told us that we “hate America.” Not true. Another reader, Morgan Hill resident William Carlson, gave us permission to publish his message to us. (See box at the bottom of this editorial webpage).
Mayor Rich Constantine and other prominent members of the South Valley community were using their First Amendment right to protest what they considered inappropriate treatment of people arrested with charges of unlawful presence in the United States. Because of its local news prominence, we decided we had a social responsibility and ethical duty to use our First Amendment right to publish this important story. We had no intention to write an “anti-ICE” story or take a side. Our goal was to report the facts as fairly and accurately as we professionally could. We believe the overall mission of ICE is a legitimate one. We need to protect our people with effective border safety. But as a democratic nation we also have a moral mandate to balance our control over our borders with the human rights responsibilities that come with immigration. The majority of ICE officers uphold that mandate in their profession.
We tried repeatedly through phone calls and emails to reach ICE’s press representative to include that agency’s side of the story in the story. Unfortunately, with the most recent government shutdown ICE’s public affairs office is closed. We did not receive a reply so we could not provide their comments.
We understand Mr. Carlson’s concerns on Cpl. Rolin Singh’s tragic death caused by a man illegally in America. We share his sympathy for the police officer’s family. Mr. Carlson told us he and other South Valley people drove to Newman to show their compassion for Singh and his family. That’s truly admirable. “We all stood in the town square with signs of support and almost everyone that drove past gave us a wave and thumbs up,” he told us.
Our coverage of the ICE protest does not pose a threat to local law enforcement officers. We at Morgan Hill Life give our full media support to the men and women in uniform who daily risk their lives to keep the peace and make sure all residents are safe and their rights protected. But it is our duty and our obligation as a news organization to hold our government agencies accountable for their actions. Are they following their own rules and policies? Are they abusing their power? Do they hold themselves above the law?
Americans need to now take a good, hard look at our nation’s inadequate immigration policies and laws. Our leaders — Democrat and Republican — are failing us in not honestly and intelligently dealing with the legal and moral complexities in keeping our nation safe from drugs, terrorism and other threats. And intimidating any member of the media with a “Second Amendment” threat for putting a spotlight on our nation’s immigration challenges is counter to the mission of America and what the Founding Fathers intended with the Constitution.
We received an email relating to the ICE protest story that strongly expressed to us a hatred for the free press. The writer is not the only one in this country who despises the people who work hard for low pay in the news profession. But please remember this fact: We lose our free press, we lose our freedoms. We lose our freedoms, we lose America. It’s then game over for democracy. All those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who during the centuries have given their lives for the nation they loved will have died in vain. Their deaths mean nothing if we lose America to an ideology of hate.
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