Contest seeks to put immigrants in a positive light - San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium

November 3, 2010

A local immigrant rights group is conducting a contest asking San Diego County residents to submit stories about how immigrants positively contribute to the community in an effort to counter negative portrayals of immigrants in the country.

The contest, called Immigrants Are U.S., was sponsored by the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium and runs through Dec. 13, said Ricardo Favela, a spokesman for the group. It asks people to submit self-produced videos of up to four minutes via the group’s website,

Favela said immigrants have been used as scapegoats for various problems in the country, particularly by politicians heading into the midterm elections. Some candidates for political office ran ads featuring disturbing images of immigrants in an effort to get elected, Favela said.

“Right now we’re seeing very negative and blatantly anti-immigrant political ads and statements of Latino (immigrants) in particular,” Favela said.

In Nevada, U.S. Senate candidate Republican Sharron Angle released ads linking her opponent Democratic Sen. Harry Reid to illegal immigrants with video of what appear to be scary-looking Latino gang members.

And in Escondido, mayoral candidate Sam Abed sent a mailer to thousands of voters that included a grainy, black and white photo of illegal immigrants running across a freeway saying that illegal immigrants cost city taxpayers millions of dollars.

As an example of the stories the group is asking people to submit, it produced a video of two families that started an annual, traditional Mexican “posada” in Spring Valley. Posadas are a Christmas tradition celebrated by Catholic Mexicans, symbolizing the trials endured by Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus.

The Immigrants Are U.S. contest was modeled after a nationwide campaign, called We Are America, that asks immigrants to tell their own stories in an effort to humanize immigrants, Favela said.

The We Are America campaign was started in July by a group called the Center for Community Change, a group that advocates for low-income communities and minority communities.

Burke Stansbury, project coordinator for the We Are America, said he was glad to hear other groups are sponsoring similar efforts.

“Unfortunately, in the current political dialogue, the human side of immigration is not being recognized,” Stansbury said.

Favela said he believes that most people have a favorable view of immigrants, including illegal immigrants. He pointed to an Los Angeles Times/USC poll released last week that reported that 48 percent of likely voters said immigrants were a benefit to the state, while only 32 percent of respondents said they were a burden.

The same poll also reported that 59 percent of respondents said that illegal immigrants who had lived and worked in the state for at least two years should be given an opportunity to stay.

Thus far, the group has received no entries for the Immigrants Are U.S. contest, which started about two weeks ago, Favela said. The contest is free to enter and winners will receive a portrait package from Vantage Photography.

For more information on contest rules, visit

Call staff writer Edward Sifuentes at 760-740-3511.

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