Ruben Vives, Former Illegal Immigrant, Wins Pulitzer for Coverage of Bell Scandal

There are a lot of local angles to tie in this week's Pulitzer Prize victory by Los Angeles Times reporters Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb for their coverage of the City of Bell Scandal. You have the man they took down, Robert Rizzo, being a resident of Huntington Beach, and that Gottlieb used to cover Orange County. Vives attended Cal State Fullerton before getting a job on Spring Street, and his mom used to be the nanny for Shawn Hubler, a former Times OC reporter who now pens a monthly column for Orange Coast.

And that's where the story really gets interesting. Last month, Hubler wrote a blockbuster essay outing Vives as a former illegal immigrant.


You can read the essay here, which is much more eloquent than I'm about to be (or ever can, for that matter).

Let's be clear: Vives is a reporter, first and foremost. Not a Latino reporter, not a former illegal immigrant reporter, but a reporter. He helped achieved what investigative reporters dream about: boot out bastards, help the downtrodden, and win the nation's premier journalism at a young age. But I, along with the millions of Latinos who come from an undocumented pedigree, whether it be our parents (me), our cousins, uncles, friends, or ourselves (like all the Dreamers out there), can't help but gloat about Vives' background. What a wonderful chinga tu madre at the Know Nothings of the world who insist illegals can't make anything of themselves in this country! What a glorious toma, güey to those who say Latinos bring the corruption of their homelands to the United States and endorse it! What a beautiful arriba to those of us who know undocumented youngsters can and do make something of themselves in this country–if only they have a chance!

Imagine if Vives didn't have wealthy people to help him become legal? He'd be a DREAM Act student spinning his wheels, waiting vainly for politicians to give him and others who only know this country the opportunity they earned long ago. Vives came here from Guatemala as a seven-year-old, the exact age a dear friend of mine who graduated with a degree from Long Beach State in journalism, a friend who can't even get a damn internship from a paper because of his undocumented states, was when he came to this country illegally. What separates Vives and him (and so many others) in terms of assimilation? NOTHING, a point Vives hopefully will make as the rest of the national media catches on to this remarkable-for-them tale.

Gracias, Ruben, for reminding America what those who come into this country illegally are capable of. And for the haters who'll inevitably whine in the comments below?

Welcome to the new normal, pendejos.

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