The job of most editors, myself included, is to delight, entertain, surprise, and inform their readers. The majority of the time, when it comes to choosing a cover story, we try to keep the emphasis on the first three, since the other job of most editors, myself included, is to sell magazines. Then there are the months like this one. I’m not saying that a cover story on immigration won’t sell—it’s the hottest topic going right now, one that affects each and every one of us, one that instantly triggers strong feelings from all sides—but let’s be honest, the fifty best burgers in Texas it ain’t. Still, certain moments call for us to use our considerable energies—and our most precious real estate—for informative, ambitious, and civic-minded packages like the one that begins this month on page 111.
That the United States is now in the midst of yet another paroxysm of outrage over illegal immigration (and yet another paroxysm of outrage over the outrage) should be obvious to anyone with a television, a radio, or a high-speed Internet connection. Starting back in April, when Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, her state’s controversial immigration bill, into law, we’ve been plunged into the latest round of an ugly debate that’s plagued this nation since, well, the beginning. We’re supposed to be a country of immigrants—huddled masses yearning to breathe free in a melting pot—but the truth is that we’ve always had a shut-the-door-behind-you mentality. No less a prototypical American than Benjamin Franklin was a true hard-liner on the subject of German immigration. “Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens,” he wrote in 1751, “who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead