Once again, CNN sympathized with an illegal immigrant supporting the largely Democratic-sponsored DREAM Act. On Tuesday, anchor Brooke Baldwin gave a soft interview to "typical college kid" Mayra Hidalgo who blistered Republicans for their rigidity on immigration.
Baldwin let Hidalgo air this message to certain Republican candidates: "Do you even have a heart?" The immigrant directed her ire at Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney for saying an illegal immigrant would have to serve in the military to earn citizenship. "You're messing with people's lives," an emotional Hidalgo ranted.
Two months earlier, CNN had helped politicize the "DREAM Act suicide " when after an illegal immigrant teenager killed himself, his family blamed his frustration on his not being able to attend college, and on the DREAM Act not passing Congress.
CNN gave another podium to a DREAM Act supporter on Tuesday as Baldwin hailed the self-described "DREAMer" Hidalgo's collegiate accomplishments, before revealing that she "is one traffic ticket away from being deported."
[Video below the break.]
"As a child of immigrants, as – an immigrant myself, I feel like my role has always been to go to school, work really hard, and have a career. And that's what I want to do, but it's so difficult when you don't have a legal status," Hidalgo lamented.
Of course, nowhere in the story was a conservative voice opposing the DREAM Act, just soundbites from Hidalgo airing her side of the story.
"Do you understand that, you know, these aren't just those illegals? We're humans, we're people here," she cried out at Gingrich and Romney. "There are other ways to serve this country. Just being a doctor, being an attorney – those are just as important ways to serve our country just like the military," she insisted.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 31 at 2:18 p.m. EST, is as follows:
BROOKE BALDWIN: And we're here to tell a number of stories, a number of issues that are very key to a number of voting blocs here in Florida. But specifically, I want to talk immigration. It's a very important issue among Latino voters, as is, of course, the economy and jobs, but immigration specifically. Keep in mind, in 2008, 12 percent of the voters in the Republican presidential primary here in Florida were Hispanic.
And last night, I spent my evening with a young woman. She is 20 years old. She is a college student here in Florida, and she is here illegally. She did something, though, many youngsters in her shoes are not often willing to do. She spoke with me on camera. Watch this.
MAYRA HIDALGO, undocumented immigrant: Once in a while we do fall into this really deep just, like, sense of hopelessness and helplessness.
BALDWIN (voice-over): Mayra Hidalgo appears to be a typical college kid - Spanish/Biology double major, aspiring lawyer, classical singer for fun.
BALDWIN: But this 20-year-old is one traffic ticket away from being deported.
HIDALGO: At any moment I can have my very life taken from me and be sent back to a country that I don't even remember. Simple things like driving to school or, you know, going to get groceries, those are very stressful situations.
BALDWIN: Hidalgo doesn't have a driver's license because she's here illegally. She says her parents brought her to the U.S. from Costa Rica when she was just 6 months old on a tourist visa that expired years ago.
HIDALGO: It's unjust, it's frustrating.
BALDWIN: But her frustration toward her parents has slowly turned into gratitude.
HIDALGO: The older I get, the more grateful I am for the sacrifice they've made, because I know I've – regardless of my legal status here, I wouldn't – you know, I know I've accomplished so much here because they brought me here.
BALDWIN: Mayra Hidalgo calls herself a "dreamer," one who supports the DREAM Act, proposed legislation that would give undocumented young people a pathway to citizenship if they meet certain requirements like attend a four-year college or serve two years in the U.S. military.
HIDALGO: As a child of immigrants, as – an immigrant myself, I feel like my role has always been to go to school, work really hard, and have a career. And that's what I want to do, but it's so difficult when you don't have a legal status.
BALDWIN: A bill has yet to make it through Congress, but President Obama supports the idea and Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich support it, sort of.
NEWT GINGRICH, Republican presidential candidate : – that if you live in a foreign country and you're prepared to join the American military, you can in fact earn the right to citizenship by serving the United States and taking real risk on behalf of the United States.
ROMNEY: That's the same position that I have.
BALDWIN: Hidalgo disagrees.
HIDALGO: There are other ways to serve this country. Just being a doctor, being an attorney – those are just as important ways to serve our country just like the military.
BALDWIN: With military service being the only path to citizenship, she wants the candidates to know this.
HIDALGO: You're messing with people's lives. Do you even have a heart? Do you understand that, you know, these aren't just those illegals? We're humans, we're people here.
BALDWIN: Just showing her face on camera makes Hidalgo vulnerable.
(on camera): Are you scared at all to be sitting here next to me?
HIDALGO: I feel like it's far more important to put a face to the issue, to the undocumented student, so people can understand our struggle a little better. And if living in fear is what I have to do to do that, I'm okay with that.
(End Video Clip)
BALDWIN: Just a little bit on Mayra's background. She's actually one of four siblings here in the United States. She is the only one who is currently undocumented. Her youngest sibling was born here, the other two married Americans, so they began their pathways to citizenship that way. And she told me she doesn't want to rely on a potential partner for citizenship.