How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Quote of the moment: On immigrant heroes and villains

A post this morning addressed this week's media coverage of key players in the Los Angeles arson drama: The suspected arsonist and his fraud suspect mother, both German nationals, and the man who nabbed him, a Sheriff's Department reservist born in Iran.

Had the immigrant background of the hero, part-time deputy and full-time cop Shervin Lalezary, been swept under the rug, a post on the AlterNet site asked? And in reverse, had media coverage of the immigration status of suspects Harry Burkhart and his mother Dorothee, who is wanted for fraud in Germany (and also happens to be undocumented) been way overblown?

I explained some of the rationale behind covering the immigration aspect of the arson suspect's story in the post, which has been making the rounds on Twitter. Then I saw this tweet from reader James Fujita @jim61773, which made me smile:

@Multi_American An interesting, important point, although my mind strayed to a fight between immigrants Superman and Dr. Doom.

Brilliant. Doctor Doom is, of course, Victor von Doom, the foreign-villain Cold War product of Marvel Comics, enemy of the Fantastic Four and native/ruler of imaginary Latveria. Superman, meanwhile, a native of the planet Krypton, has been referred to as "America’s ultimate illegal immigrant." He had U.S. citizenship at one point, but this year announced plans to renounce it.

But back to the point made: The Burkhart story had an immigration component from the get-go, with early news reports incorrectly describing an angry outburst by the suspect in immigration court over his mother's pending deportation, leading an official who saw the outburst to recognize him in a surveillance video. This turned out to be federal court, and the mother turned out not to be a deportee, but a wanted fugitive in Germany who now faces extradition.

That said, do media reports overblow immigration status when a suspect is a non-citizen, or underplay the stories of immigrants who are successful or perform good deeds? Any thoughts?

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