An Albuquerque, N.M., newspaper on Wednesday renounced an editorial cartoon suggesting certain younger illegal immigrants are gang members and terrorists, apologizing for “inflamed emotions” it may have caused.
Published Wednesday in the print edition of the Albuquerque Journal, the cartoon sparked outrage from many readers, who called it a racist stereotype of undocumented immigrants.
The cartoon by syndicated cartoonist Sean Delonas depicts a white couple in an alley being held at gunpoint by two robbers dressed in all black. One of the assailants points a pistol at the couple as the woman hands over her purse, while a second man wearing a jacket emblazoned with the name “MS-13” looks on. Around the corner, a third figure wears a lit suicide vest and holds a machete dripping with blood.
As the woman being robbed utters a stream of curses, her husband reminds her, “Now honey … I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’ … or future Democrats.”
The association of “Dreamers” — a popular term for young illegal immigrants protected by the soon-to-expire Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — with criminal behavior prompted a torrent of outrage from readers, journalists, and even both of New Mexico’s Democratic senators.
Wow. This insanely racist cartoon ran today in the @ABQJournal, my hometown newspaper and the first place I ever worked. The paper has always had a conservative editorial board, but this is next-level. pic.twitter.com/QY60tBD1bQ
— Kate Linthicum (@katelinthicum) February 8, 2018
Albuquerque Journal Editor-in-Chief Karen Moses said the cartoon may have been lampooning President Donald Trump’s supposed fear-mongering about illegal immigration, but conceded that was “not the message received by many readers.”
“Instead, many saw an extremely objectionable cartoon and thought that was the position of the Journal. It is not,” she wrote in a statement Wednesday. “In hindsight, instead of generating debate, this cartoon only inflamed emotions. This was not the intent, and for that, the Journal apologizes.”
The Albuquerque Journal is known for its conservative editorials in a state that typically leans to the left politically. However, it has endorsed a path to citizenship for not just DACA recipients, but a larger group of 1.8 million “Dreamers,” according to a report from the paper’s staff writers.
President Donald Trump ended the DACA program in 2017 and gave Congress until March 5 to craft a legislative replacement, but lawmakers have not been able to reach a deal. The White House and most Republicans are demanding additional border security funds and new limits on legal immigration in exchange for codifying DACA protections, while Democrats have thus far refused to accept any compromise that would reduce immigration levels.
Many Albuquerque Journal readers correctly noted that the roughly 800,000 people who have received DACA protections are no more crime-prone than the overall U.S. population. A recent analysis of incarceration data in neighboring Arizona found illegal immigrants between 18 and 35 years old — a rough approximation of the broader Dreamer’ population of at least 3 million — commit crime at twice the rate of U.S. citizens in the same age bracket.
Illegal immigrants ages 18 to 35 are about two percent of the Arizona population, but almost eight percent of the prison population, the study by the Center for Crime Prevention Research also found.
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