The Story I Didn’t Get To Tell

So often, we tell the viewers we’re bringing them the news of the day.  Technically, that’s inaccurate.  We’re bringing you the news of the day we were able to deliver on deadline.

There are any number of reasons why newsworthy stories don’t make air.  I had a couple this month.

Last week, I didn’t get to tell you how the woman Wesley Watson tried to rape in December felt because she didn’t want to share.  I’d have been shocked if she did.  I can’t tell you her name because reporters generally don’t name sexual assault victims.  I can tell you she’s a young woman who dabbed her eyes with a tissue repeatedly as Watson pleaded guilty to the crimes against her, especially when Watson described those crimes.  That’s about it.

This particular story I want to write about wasn’t told because the interviewee decided to catch a Saturday morning plane instead of a Saturday afternoon bus without telling me.  I can’t blame him.

When you leave your home, your wife, and your three children without knowing if and when you’ll ever see them again, calling the reporter back is somewhere below top priority.

THE STORY I TRIED TO TELL

Rigoberto Calderon isn’t a soldier.  The sentence above doesn’t mean he’s being sent to prison.  Calderon is (was) an illegal immigrant.

I’ve never met the man.  Over the phone, Calderon has no Latino accent.  I’m guessing that’s because he lived in Kanas City since the age of six.

Calderon’s parents brought him and his siblings to the U.S. more than 20 years ago.  He didn’t realize this wasn’t his native homeland until he tried to apply for college and found out he had no Social Security number.

Calderon stayed here, got a job, and raised a family with his wife.  His criminal record, aside from unknowingly being brought into the country as a young child, is clean.

Since Calderon was here for more than 10 years, he did have a chance to stay if he could prove his deportation would cause his children “extremely unusual and exceptional hardship.”

I won’t go into the specifics since I didn’t look up the records myself, but the court system recently decided Calderon didn’t get to stay.  He had until February 6 to return to Mexico.  After it appeared buses wouldn’t make it in time, he decided to hop a plane.

Calderon said he was disappointed he couldn’t give me an interview because he knew there were others in a similar situation and he really wanted to bring attention to the issue.

“This is just something I have to do for my family right now,” Calderon told me.  He sounded surprisingly optimistic.

In the moment immediately after he said those words, it sounded like the most backwards logic I’d heard in awhile.  In truth, Calderon knew he should grow a halo in the eyes of the courts.

Missing the deadline would make it that much harder to come back.

THE STORY I TELL NOW

Is that fair?  Is fair relevant?  I don’t know.

I’m guessing even the most fervent anti-immigrant protesters would feel bad for Calderon’s three children.  Then again, the level of hate expressed towards illegal immigrants in the last five years or so has surprised me.

I mean, I get the basic opposition.  There’s a process.  Our laws dictate if you’re not born here or your parents weren’t, you have to take certain steps to become a proud citizen of the country known for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and a mantra literally called a dream.

That people want more for themselves and their families so much they’ll skip steps isn’t surprising.

For people who want to argue Calderon should have returned to Mexico as soon as he learned of his citizenship status, please don’t be so naive.  Calderon hit the jackpot, one his parents risked their lives for.  They accomplished the goal:  get our children to the land of opportunity undetected.

He should spit in the face of that?   “Nah, Mom and Dad.  You got us the American Dream, but not the legal way.  I’m going back.”

I also understand we shouldn’t invite illegal immigrants with the attitude of, “Be good once you break the laws to get here, and we’ll let you stay.”

Ever notice ends justifying the means is a concept only fleetingly accepted by those who stand to benefit?  For me to expect anything more would make me the naive one.

THE UPSHOT

As far as I know, Calderon is in Mexico.  I haven’t called his cell since the day he caught that plane and had to skip the interview he so badly wanted to give.

He hasn’t just returned to a country that’s essentially foreign to him, it’s devastatingly war-torn right now.

Calderon’s attorney tells me his best shot to return to the U.S. is when his eight-year-old daughter turns 21.

Do I feel bad for this man and his family?  Hell yes.

Do I know the solution?  Hell no.

Sometimes, that’s why you tell the story.

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