New Yorker immigration cover not so original

The latest New Yorker cover depicts undocumented immigrants dressed as Pilgrims crossing the U.S.-Mexico border through a barbed wire fence. The illustration below by Christoph Niemann is called “Promised Land.”

However, Niemann isn’t the first cartoonist to depict Mexicans as Pilgrims. Look at this 2002 cartoon below from Lalo Alcaraz.

I also like the 2008 cartoon by Alacraz as well.

Cartoonists often play with the same ideas. I know this as I have been a judge for the John Fischetti Award for Editorial Cartooning given by Columbia College Chicago, where I am on the faculty.

The Niemann cartoon has gotten a lot of attention. It comes at a time when immigration is in the national spotlight.

Presidential hopefuls Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have been slammed in the Republican debates for their views on immigration.

From Alabama to Arizona, states have enacted immigration laws. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has failed to act to pass the DREAM Act or comprehensive immigration reform.

Niemann, the cartoonist who did the work for the New Yorker, is a German immigrant and a U.S. permanent resident. His intentions with the cartoon seem sincere.

“The debate should be about how can a country benefit from immigration. America depends on immigration. The discussion will be more valuable if it is focused on benefits,” Niemann told Huff Post Latino Voices.

He also said, “I’m an immigrant myself and what I always found staggering is that there are tons of Europeans who get green cards and I know some of them are not legal from the get-go and that never comes up.”

But I want to call attention to the overlooked work of Latino cartoonist Alcaraz. He has been drawing about immigration and themes important to the Latino community his entire career.

Recently, the Chicago Sun-Times stopped running his comic strip.

We are at a time in this country when the work of cartoonists like Alcaraz should get more recognition.

The New Yorker should hire him to do their next cover on immigration or on any topic. Sadly, in Chicago we are missing his cartoon strip.


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  • The most important (and most overlooked) lesson regarding the Pilgrims is that they have demonstrated what can happen to a people when immigration is allowed to go unrestricted. Just imagine how much brighter the lives of those on the reservations would be if their ancestors had simply enforced immigration laws.

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