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Retract and apologize for your racist and hateful headline.

This petition had 6,506 supporters

On January 3rd, I woke up to the headline: “Illegals line up for driver’s licenses” in the Santa Barbara News-Press. I had to take a double take. It couldn’t be real. A reputable newspaper’s headline was using hateful and racist language about people that looked just like me. I was both shocked and offended, and I want the Santa Barbara News Press to retract their story and apologize for promoting hurtful stereotypes.   

My name is Filiberto Nolasco Gomez. I am a first generation Mexican American  raised in Los Angeles. Both my parents immigrated to this country, so I have always identified with folks coming from Latin America without documentation. As a PhD student at UC Santa Barbara, I was an advocate for the Dreamers on Campus, an organization of undocumented undergrads.

As a Latino, I know first hand how it feels to be looked at as “other”, someone who is not welcome because of the prejudices of some.  Using words such as illegals and aliens is part of what promotes these types of hurtful attitudes. In fact, in 2013 the Associate Press decided to no longer sanction the use of the word "illegal” because it had become offensive and controversial.  

According to the most recent statistics, Latinos make up nearly 40% of California’s population while only 7.5% of the states population can be classified as living here without the proper documentation. Not only is snapping a photo of a group of Latinos and calling them illegal wrong and ignorant, it also creates a hostile environment for the largest ethnic community in the state. The word illegal evokes thoughts of “danger” and “the enemy” and causes others to look at our entire community as a threat, often times with fatal consequences.

If the Santa Barbara News-Press cares about a large part of their readership as well as wants to be considered a reputable news organization they will retract this offensive story and apologize to the community. Please join me and let’s send a message to the newsroom.

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