Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The original 'self-deportationist' finally gets his due

Almost as soon as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney uttered the term "self-deportation" during the first Florida debate last week, @DanielDPortado tweeted "I invented Self Deportation, please remember this on your way out."

Not long afterward, fans were circulating links to a hilarious 1996 This American Life segment in which the fictional "noted Hispanic self-deportationist" Daniel D. Portado (which sounds like deportado, Spanish for "deported") was interviewed by Ira Glass about his "self-deportation movement."

A week later, Mr. Portado has made the New York Times. His long-ago creators, Los Angeles cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz and Esteban Zul, gave birth to Daniel D. during the 1994 campaign for Proposition 187, a California measure supported by then-governor Pete Wilson that would have denied social services to undocumented immigrants. It was approved by voters, but eventually died in the courts. In the story Alcaraz, who is also behind the @MexicanMitt Romney Twitter parody, recalls how he posed as a real-life Portado during a television interview:

Apparently unaware that Portado was a fictional character, in Nov. 1994 the Spanish-language channel Telemundo invited him to appear on television defending the proposed ballot initiative just days before voters went to the polls. The comedians accepted the invitation, and Mr. Alcaraz showed up, pretending to be Portado, with Mr. Zul at his side, playing the part of the conservative activist"s bodyguard.

In an e-mail to The Lede on Tuesday, Mr. Alcaraz recalled, "I was in character at the Telemundo show, and neither the participants nor the producers were aware of our true identity." Two years after the event, Mr. Zul told The Chicago Reader, "It was the longest half-hour of my life."

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