Letters to the Editor

From the week of December 9, 2004

Class Dismissed

Identity crisis: Regarding Helen Thorpe's "Head of the Class," in the December 2 issue:

Thank you for highlighting the plight of undocumented students like Pablo. In my opinion, this issue must remain on one of the front burners, especially with the new makeup of the legislature, and this article helps keep the issue hot.

Still, I am worried about your decision to identify Pablo by using his real first name and other obvious clues. Yes, the author asked his father, and he said that it was up to his son. No, you didn't use Pablo's last name. But with all of the other obvious clues in the article, it would not be very difficult to deduce his identity. I understand that you were probably trying to honor the wishes of the student, but I fear that there may be some serious repercussions for Pablo and his family.

As a journalist, caring adult and individual who obviously cares about the plight of undocumented students like Pablo, I believe that Thorpe should have strongly advised, or even insisted, that his identity be protected. As you are aware, we are living in a very hostile environment toward immigrants, especially Mexican immigrants. Is the hostility widespread? Perhaps not. But I would argue that there are some very high-ranking officials (Tancredo) who have influence and power and are not afraid to openly attack undocumented immigrants as a group of particular individuals. As Thorpe pointed out in the article, look what happened to the other student who was identified. Essentially, he and his family were forced to go into hiding.

Again, thank you for "Head of the Class." However, I am disappointed that you chose to identify the student in the way that you have.

Miguel In Suk Lovato
Denver

Border patrol: Just a few words about your article about Pablo, the illegal immigrant from Mexico. First of all, you wasted seven good pages of paper. I have not seen seven pages on an American story.

These people are being catered to by Colorado and the U.S. because of Clinton's and Bush's agreement with Mexico president Fox. They are coming here from Mexico and creating havoc: taking jobs, buying homes and cars; gathering at Wal-Mart, flea markets, car washes and casinos; and getting free health and food services from the state. They even have their own health clinic catering to mostly illegal immigrants from Mexico.

In order for Americans to work in the social-services field, they must speak Spanish. I thought this was America. I thought we were supposed to all speak English only. Apparently, we are in Mexico! And these people are rude, they do crime here, and then they run to Mexico.

Dave Gallegos Sr.
Thornton

Practice what you teach: My heart breaks for this intelligent, highly motivated and capable young man. I teach at George Washington High School, and work -- as do many DPS educators who hope for the availability of opportunities -- for all graduating seniors to become successful in their lives. I am praying that Pablo has the chance; he earned that opportunity during his personal educational history. We tell young people, "Your job is to work at learning. Your compensation is higher education. During academia, your job continues to be to earn the highest level of competency you are capable of achieving, and following that process is rewarded with a degree. At that point, your job is to work at a career." It's one of those American philosophies, isn't it? Please do not tell me that this young man with plans to become a surgeon is now working beside his father. This boy's young mind -- "what a terrible thing to waste."

State senator John Andrews stated, "At eighteen, a young person is hardly too young to receive the clear message that the law is to be taken seriously." Pablo is a very intelligent young man who does understand this law. In fact, he is living it. Senator Andrews mentioned "private benefactors" without knowing who they are. In doing his homework, wouldn't that have been a helpful "clear message" to include in his speech for students in Pablo's situation? Unfortunately, Westword only located two such benefactors. Is there a place to contribute to some type of scholarship fund for Pablo?

Maggie Lombard
Denver

Extra credit: I was quite motivated by "Head of the Class." I want to take some sort of action, although I'm uncertain of which direction. I want my voice to be heard in support of undocumented students having reasonable access to higher education. Thank you for publishing this story. I'm interested in hearing more about this issue -- not just the rest of Pablo's story, but how to help the many other students who may not be as fortunate as he is.

Dawn Shearer
Denver

Food for thought: I smell a rat, Westword. Not just the usual rat of cloying prose and smarmy liberal self-congratulation, but a much larger, stinkier rat: backhanded influence peddling.

I got a whiff of said rodent when I noticed that the author of last week's heartstring-tugger, Helen Thorpe, is married to our illustrious mayor, John Hickenlooper. It took one utterance of "cui bono" and about a minute of playing "follow the money" on the Internet to track down the rotting carcass I was looking for. Consider the following taken from your very own newspaper, in a story published February 27, 2003: "The Colorado Restaurant Association has contributed to the campaigns of both brewer Hickenlooper and Zavaras, whose brother-in-law, Pete Contos, owns a number of restaurants, including Pete's Kitchen. 'They could be from the Communist Party, and if they owned a restaurant, we'd support them,' says association president Pete Meersman."

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