Letters to the Pilot

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Immigration rules apply equally to all

It seems indisputable to me that Mac Kaminsky is a fine, upstanding person who would make an exemplary U.S. citizen. However, two things about the coverage of this "deportation" case disturbed me.

My biggest concern is the message that I discerned between the lines in the coverage. I truly hope I am mistaken in my understanding of that message. In the Pilot's first article, we were told that Mac's story might change the way readers feel about U.S. immigration policies, then informed that Mac was neither a "migrant" nor "uneducated." In your October 10 editorial we were told, "He's European, and you wouldn't notice him as anything but American in a crowd," and that "he speaks English perfectly

without an accent." I thought we had moved far beyond the white European as representing a "typical" American. Moreover, I don't know for sure, but I

imagine that many of the uneducated migrant workers in this country might have the same dreams that the Pilot attributes to Kaminsky: "to learn and

work hard and make their own opportunity in a new world and never look back."

I question the amount of coverage given to Kaminsky's story, versus the amount typically given to those uneducated migrants looking for better


My other concern stems from the characterization of Kaminsky's immigration status. As a lawyer who practiced immigration law for a number

of years, I'd like to clarify a couple of legal points, based upon my understanding of the facts as reported in the Pilot. Kaminsky came to this country legally, but with a temporary nonimmigrant visa. This means when he came to the U.S., he knowingly and voluntarily agreed that his stay here would not be permanent - he promised he would leave when that visa expired.

If he stays after his visa has expired, he has broken the law, much the same as any non-U.S. citizen who has crossed the border illegally. If he leaves

the country upon the expiration of his visa, Kaminsky is free to apply for another visa to return to the U.S.

Kaminsky could seek to return with a nonimmigrant visa (of which there are many different classifications), or he could pursue one of the many different types of immigrant visas, which would enable him to stay

permanently and eventually become a U.S. citizen. From the facts as reported in the newspaper, it would be inaccurate and inflammatory to

suggest that he is being deported. He is not in deportation proceedings.

Instead, at this point, he is just being asked to do what he agreed to do when he entered this country: bring his visit to an end upon expiration of his temporary nonimmigrant visa.

Mary Scarbrough,

Storm Lake

The editor replies: There is no racial prejudice intended "between the lines" in our coverage of this story.

We were in no way trying to define the "typical American" and I doubt there really is such a thing.

The point in saying that people may change the way they view immigration controls is that Mac's case is a reminder that there are many issues besides Mexican border patrol to immigration policies, some with several shades of gray, and that they impact people from all over the world. In that way, we were hoping that people's views might be broadened a bit.

As for questioning coverage given to Kaminsky's story, versus the amount typically given to those "uneducated migrants looking for better opportunities," we welcome the chance to share stories of interesting people from all ethnic backgrounds and all walks of life, and we have done many stories on local people who have come from several different parts of the world. We would like to do much more, and welcome such story ideas from our readers.

Thank you for writing.

- Dana Larsen, editor