Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Hey!, Ma!, I'm on TV!!!" or "Immigration Red Tape"

Carolina and I had a unique experience yesterday. About 10:00am, Jennifer Akers, a Fox 16 news reporter, called my house. She said she was trying to find the Mark Adams who had sent an e-mail to the station a few weeks ago. She had found the right guy.

I sent the news station an e-mail when they did a story about a camera man they had who had been interning with them, but was about to run out of time on his visa to keep working legally. He is an international student from Europe, and since he doesn't have a sponsor, his only choice is either to mary an American or to return home to Europe. It shed some light on how complicated it is to immigrate to the US, and I had thanked them for airing a story about it.

Most people assume that immigration is a piece of cake for someone who marries an American. When I've told people about going to Memphis for appointments at the immigration/national security headquarters, they always respond, "But yall have your marriage license; what else do they want?" I then laugh to keep myself from crying.

My main beef with the government over immigration is this: If you are going to make things easier for illegal immigrants, then make them at least that easy for me. We are already 2 years into the process of filing for one permit after another, having to renew some while waiting for others to come in. One little mistake can send a person into limbo, where it is nearly impossible to ever solve anything. I know some people who are more than 8 years into this, with no light at the end of the tunnel.

I really don't mind the idea of a worker permit for aliens, because I am sympathetic to the reasons why they come here looking for work. It just irritates me that they will be able to show up and get an easy pass while I have to hire a lawyer, spend thousands of dollars, and wait years for this, when I've done nothing wrong or illegal. In fact, if I hadn't hired a lawyer, I don't think we'd stand a chance of getting through all of this.

So Jennifer called and asked if she could come interview us. We were especially credible for this issue since I am a minister, my wife works at a Christian college, and both of us have degrees from a local Christian university. If you won't allow legal immigration for a preacher's wife, who will you allow it for?

I checked with Carolina, who agreed to do it, so Jennifer Akers and a camera man came to our house around noon and interviewed us. It was pretty cool having a big "Fox 16 News" SUV in our driveway. A lot of the clips are kind of staged, with Carolina watering a plant, and me tying a tie. They had us spend a lot of time looking through immigration papers that we spread all over our coffee table to add to the effect.

I was concerned that they might twist our words out of context or something, but I care a lot about this issue, and my desire to have my voice heard outweighed my concern for being misquoted.

If you saw the news, the little intro bits leading up to our story were horrendous, and I was terrified. "A woman from Mexico wants to stay with her husband in the United States, but immigration red tape threatens to rip this family apart!" Another was, "A woman from Mexico married to an American wants to remain here, but could she still be deported?!" We were both absolutely sick, ready to call and yell at someone, because in the interview nothing of the sort was talked about or even hinted at.

Fortunately, the story itself was very fair and accurate. They didn't twist any details or misrepresent anything we said. We requested that they didn't mention that Carolina works at Harding and that they didn't specifically mention where I preach. They respected all of our requests. I guess they use those intro clips to build up hype. We didn't care for those, but we were really happy with the main part of it.

I felt pretty special getting to be on the news; especially featured in a story about something that I care a lot about. Lots of our friends called right after the clip aired to either congratulate or make fun of us. I figure they can say whatever they want. I'm the one who got to be on TV. ;-)

This was a neat experience. As to whether or not I will do it again, I'm not sure.

To see our story, click here.


  1. Thanks for sharing that story; I didn't watch the local FOX news last night so I missed the story, but they do have a tendency to suck viewers in with a big hype on a story.

    Good luck with the red tape.

  2. Watched it via link on your post...nice. One question if you dont mind me asking...Why didn't you want to mention the church you preached at or the fact that Carolia works at HU? If that is too personal of a question just tell me to shut up...

  3. We thought it was better that we speak as an individual family rather than coming across as "on behalf of Harding University" or "Rose Bud church of Christ". Since what I'm basically arguing is that the government is messed up in this regard, I didn't think it was fair to bring our employers into it. Harding especially is very touchy about how they are represented. I don't know if anyone would have really cared, but we thought it was best not to disclose that info just in case it came back to bite us somehow.

  4. Mark: I accidently deleted your most recent at my blog; could you please re-post? (I was in a hurry to get back to class and hit the wrong key to moderate... sorry).

  5. Wow, good story. Thanks for sharing the link as well. I very much enjoyed it. I know that I know very little about immigration laws, but I sympathize with you. I have argued just the financial problems to several people and no one really believes how hard it is to become a citizen. I am glad Fox carried that story and I wish a local station here would do a similar one. Anyway, thanks again.

  6. Hmm. Really good post, I enjoyed getting to know you and Carolina a little better because of the issue and story! And also, I firmly agree with you. I am glad you were able to get your voice heard! As far as the dramatic taglines...yes, that's just the news biz. It was one of the factors that made me change my mind about going into that line of work after studying at Harding.

  7. I clicked on your link and watched the video. Tom Hanks may be calling soon!

    I can say "I knew them before they were stars!"