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:


When the hero is an immigrant - and the suspect is foreign-born, too

A short piece that appeared on AlterNet made an interesting point about how media handled the story of Shervin Lalezary, the attorney and Los Angeles County Sheriff's reservist who made the traffic stop that netted suspected mass arsonist Harry Burkhart on Monday.

Both men are foreign-born. Lalezary was born in Iran and is an immigrant to the United States. Burkhart is a German national reportedly born in Chechnya. He had spent some time living in the U.S., although he held a non-immigrant visa. His mother Dorothee Burkhart, who became part of the story as she went to court Tuesday on fraud charges and faces extradition to Germany, is undocumented. It's unclear how long she had been living here without a visa.

Why, Maurice Belanger asks in the AlterNet post, was so much made of the Burkharts' immigration status, while there was little mention of Lalezary's immigrant background? He writes: