Immigration & Justice Media Writers and Writing

A Once Illegal Pulitizer Winner—& the Many Like Him Still in the Shadows

First there was Shawn Hubler’s terrific essay that outed the co-leader of the Bell investigation Pulitzer team, Ruben Vives
, as a once undocumented kid who, without a very large chunk of good luck, and some very skillful help, despite his intelligence and talent, would not now be legal, reporting for the LA Times, and being lauded nationwide for his city-altering work.

The OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano looks again at Ruben Vives’ backstory— then directs our gaze to the many bright and talented young people who, like Vives, came to the US as children, but who, without a helpful patron, are still shut out.

Here’re the important clips—but read it all.

Let’s be clear: Vives is a reporter, first and foremost. Not a Latino reporter, not a former illegal immigrant reporter, but a reporter. He helped achieved what investigative reporters dream about: boot out bastards, help the downtrodden, and win the nation’s premier journalism at a young age. But I, along with the millions of Latinos who come from an undocumented pedigree, whether it be our parents (me), our cousins, uncles, friends, or ourselves (like all the Dreamers out there), can’t help but gloat about Vives’ background. What a wonderful chinga tu madre at the Know Nothings of the world who insist illegals can’t make anything of themselves in this country! What a glorious toma, güey to those who say Latinos bring the corruption of their homelands to the United States and endorse it! What a beautiful arriba to those of us who know undocumented youngsters can and do make something of themselves in this country–if only they have a chance!

Imagine if Vives didn’t have wealthy people to help him become legal? He’d be a DREAM Act student spinning his wheels, waiting vainly for politicians to give him and others who only know this country the opportunity they earned long ago. Vives came here from Guatemala as a seven-year-old, the exact age a dear friend of mine who graduated with a degree from Long Beach State in journalism, a friend who can’t even get a damn internship from a paper because of his undocumented status, was when he came to this country illegally. What separates Vives and him (and so many others) in terms of assimilation? NOTHING, a point Vives hopefully will make as the rest of the national media catches on to this remarkable-for-them tale.


That’s what the nonpartisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy found. And as the NY Post points out, that’s more than General Electric paid. GE, which earned $14 billion last year, paid exactly zero.

Photo by Katie Falkenberg for the LA Times

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