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NYT reporter Jason DeParle believes in the American dream for immigrants

The Chronicle sat down with New York Times reporter Jason DeParle, Trinity ‘82, before he delivered the 2019 Crown Lecture in Ethics Monday.

Despite increasing anti-immigrant sentiment at higher levels of U.S. government, Jason DeParle said that local legal immigrants are living out the American dream.

He noted that though there has been little change in public opinion around immigration during the current administration, the power of the internet and polarization of the media have magnified the anti-immigrant voice. This perspective remains a minority, but it appears louder because “anti-immigrant rhetoric has been legitimized by Trump,” DeParle said. 

However, this doesn’t always hold true on the local level. 

“There is a lot more cooperation, welcome and integration than you would ever guess than if all you knew about American life was the Washington conversation on immigration,” he said. 

DeParle cited immigrants’ high levels of intermarriage, high levels of employment and low levels of crime as signs of successful integration throughout the United States. 

And he should know—for 30 years, DeParle followed a success story of immigrants integrating into American society. 

In his recent book, “A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century,” DeParle details the migration of a Filipino family from Manila to the suburbs of Houston. The book focuses on Rosalie, who rose above poverty and attended nursing school with the money her father sent from cleaning a pool at a Saudi Air Force base.

Rosalie migrated from Saudi Arabia to Abu Dhabi to the United States, where she now works as a registered nurse in a Texas hospital. Although she was not allowed to practice Christianity in Saudi Arabia, she felt more freedom as a guest worker in Abu Dhabi and was able to attend a Catholic church. But she could never become a citizen in the United Arab Emirates due to laws limiting naturalization.

In the United States, however, Rosalie and her family became naturalized citizens. DeParle explained that Rosalie’s rise from poverty to achieve the American dream of a home in suburban Houston represents “a remarkable feat of human transformation.” He pointed out that it was possible only through the money from her father’s work abroad and her migration. 

“She emerged from some of the worst shantytown poverty that you’d find anywhere in the world and made it as a registered nurse in the United States where she works saving American lives,” DeParle said.

He also wrote a New York Times story in August detailing the progression of White House adviser Stephen Miller from an outspoken Duke student to a key immigration policy architect for the Trump administration. 

Miller, Trinity ‘07, first entered the national media spotlight with his outspoken remarks on the 2006 Duke lacrosse case. As a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, he pushed for Executive Order 13769—known as the Muslim travel ban—in early 2017 and advocated a zero-tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants, which led to the detainment and separation of migrant families.

At Duke, Miller criticized the politically correct culture of campus as jeopardizing American values. He spoke extensively on the Duke lacrosse case, appearing on the Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor.” 

“He had the perfect foil in the Duke lacrosse crisis,” DeParle said. 

DeParle characterized Miller’s time at Duke as helping “his rise as a conservative media entrepreneur and activist.”

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