Immigration, ‘American teacher’ and Rick Perry

I got to dust off my Spanish this week when I interviewed two illegal immigrants who live in Milford, Massachusetts–a small town that’s been upended by a drunk driving tragedy.

After an Ecuadoran man was charged with driving drunk and without a license when he ran into and killed a local motorcyclist in August, other Ecuadorans in the town say they’ve become the target of insults and hostility. The immigrants primarily work in service jobs or in dangerous roofing jobs. This is what one of them had to say:

A 26-year-old Ecuadoran woman who lives in Milford with her two young children told The Lookout that she has been insulted in front of her children by angry strangers since the crash happened last month. She’s lived in the town for six years, and never before had people yell things at her like “Go home” or “We don’t want you here.”

On Monday, she got out of her job cleaning a hotel to find that all the windows of her car were smashed. She didn’t want to call the police, because she says they’re not in favor of the immigrants in the town and she didn’t want to get in trouble. She is an illegal immigrant, but her children, aged 4 and 9, are U.S. citizens.

“My kids cried. They saw the broken car and they said, ‘We should get out of here from Massachusetts,’ ” said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous to avoid retaliation. “‘We should go to another place.’ I said it’s not easy, we don’t have money. They said, ‘But I’m very scared. When you’re walking, you’re getting insulted.’ My daughter asked, ‘How long is this going to happen?’ They are traumatized. They’re scared. They think they’re coming to get us.

“We’re all punished for one person,” she added. “He’s already in prison. They have him.”

The town’s police chief told me that tensions are very high right now, but that he hasn’t received any complaints about harassment.

On a completely different note, I went to NBC’s “Education Nation” event on Sunday and Monday and watched the premiere of the documentary “American Teacher,” which I liked for the most part, and later interviewed Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the largest teachers’ union, about the best way to evaluate teachers.

Today, I finally published a quote I’ve been hanging onto from Cory Session, an anti-death penalty and wrongful conviction advocate who fought to get his brother posthumously exonerated for rape. His brother, a veteran and Texas Tech student, died 13 years into a 25-year sentence for a crime DNA showed he didn’t commit. But Session has only praise for Gov. Rick Perry, who is reviled in the anti-death penalty crowd for quashing an investigation into whether Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for a crime he didn’t commit. “Governor Perry has done an exceptional job when it comes to criminal justice reform, more so than any other governor in Texas history,” Session said. “That’s a record nobody can take away from him. His stance on the death penalty, well that’s another thing. But we are very pleased with that record that he has.”

Anyway, busy week!

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