Ruben Vives didn’t know he came into this country illegally from Guatemala until he was a teenager. Fortunately his mother at the time worked for Los Angeles Times business editor, Robert Magnuson and reporter, Shawn Hubler. I believe they became Ruben’s guardian angels. They turned around and used their know-how and contacts to help Ruben become a legal citizen before he turned 18.
Fast forward to today. Now 32-years-old, Ruben is a reporter for the Los Angeles Time, but not just any reporter. On Tuesday, April 19, he and a fellow reporter won a Pulitzer Prize for a story about corruption in the city of Bell in California.
But it’s Ruben’s personal story from immigrant to award winning reporter that is getting much of the attention. It sounds like a made-for-TV movie, but it’s also a reminder that at one time he could have been deported.
Shawn Hubler is now a contributing columnist for the magazine, Orange Coast. In a column ”Who might we lose if we deport a legal immigrant’s illegal child?” she describes Ruben’s journey to citizenship. She writes:
Now Ruben Vives—the boy who was almost sent away—is a contender for a Pulitzer Prize for helping alert Californians to a massive municipal rip-off. He’s still too polite to tell his own story, but I persuaded him to let me tell some of it for him, because I wonder how many more kids are out there like him—good kids with dreams, who’ll make us all proud if we can just get past some of the hard lines we draw.
Ruben’s story brings to light all those undocumented children who go to school each day wondering if it will be their day to be deported. If it will be their day for their parents to be discovered and sent back to the country where they were born. In Ruben’s case, his mother did have a green card.
As reporters, we’ve all covered an immigration story involving children. They’re children stuck in the middle. They had no say when their parents decided to come here, and some live today in the U.S. keeping “the secret” in fear that their families will get in trouble.
I just keep thinking “What if?” What if Ruben Vives would have been deported back when he was a teen? What if the two reporters didn’t jump in to help him? I bet that alleged corruption would still be going on in the city of Bell.
We should all be proud of Ruben’s professional and personal accomplishments. I have a lot of respect for him for also sharing this personal part of his story, because we know there are many anti-immigrants who will be out on the attack.
Kudos to Shawn Hubler and her husband for opening their hearts to the Vives family. How many times is it pounded into our heads not to get involved in a story–just report the news, don’t take sides, don’t have an opinion. Thanks to these two reporters who remind us —– reporters are human too.
Maybe someone will makes a movie out of Ruben’s life and include the reporters who played a huge part in his success.
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