The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

25 January 2007

La Ley FM Listener Contest, Chicago, Illegal Immigration


In Chicago, Illegal Alien Refused Radio Contest Prize

In another controversy related to the immigration status of contest entrants, a former Chicago woman has been denied the Corvette she won in a radio station's promotional event.

According to the Chicago Sun - Times, Maribel Nava Alvarez would have been awarded the vehicle, but because she's an illegal alien, lacked the Social Security number necessary for tax reporting purposes.

As a result, Spanish Broadcasting Systems- owned La Ley FM has found itself in the center of a growing controversy over how it handled the situation. Some in the Hispanic community are objecting to the station's refusal to turn over the car to Alvarez.

According to the Sun - Times:

What's worse, she said, is that an SBS attorney allegedly threatened to alert authorities of her immigration status once he learned she intended to take her battle to court.

"I was very sad. I cried. ... My feelings were hurt because I was mocked," Alvarez, 22, said in her native Spanish on Wednesday. "It's unjust."

Despite La Ley's claims, Alvarez said she was never informed verbally or in print that she had to be U.S. citizen or legal resident to be eligible to win Mexican- American singer Juan Rivera's old car during the July 4, 2005, contest at the Plaza Garibaldi, 2600 S. California.

The only condition was that the potential winner had to be present at the drawing, said Alvarez, who recently sued both companies for breach of contract and emotional distress.

"I will caution you that if you insist on filing suit against SBS, I will in turn be forced to refer this matter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as I believe your client is in this country illegally. Please communicate that to your client for her consideration," Cueva wrote in a Dec. 19, 2005, letter to Alvarez's attorney, Federico Rodriguez.

Alvarez, who came to Chicago from Mexico when she was 7 and attended public schools, said she was so frightened she would be deported that she fled Illinois eight months ago with her two children to an undisclosed location. Only her mother knows where she currently resides.

Alvarez, a laundry worker, has not seen any relatives since, which makes it especially hard given she was just diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer, she said.

"I'm in hiding. I had to leave my family behind. It was like starting over," said Alvarez, with Rodriguez at her side.

La Ley is required by law to get a valid Social Security number or tax identification number from all winners of prizes worth more than $500, according to a written statement from the Spanish language station. A station official said she did not want to comment because the matter is in litigation.

The station, which refers to itself as a champion for Latinos and the legalization of undocumented immigrants, tried giving Alvarez the hard-top car even though her tax reporting information could not be verified, the statement said.

The 1999 Corvette hasn't been awarded to any other contestants and is believed to be in SBS' possession.

In a separate incident earlier this month, Toys R Us agreed to award a Chinese-American infant born in New York a $25,000 prize in a New Year's baby contest after the company was criticized for disqualifying the girl because her mother was an illegal immigrant.

Although promotional materials recruited "all expectant New Year's mothers" to apply for the contest, eligibility rules required the babies' mothers to be legal residents.

Meanwhile, at La Ley's website, listeners have added negative comments to the station's web forum:

25 Jan 07, 17:33
JJJJJ: Demandan a “la Ley”

25 Jan 07, 17:28
juan: noticias/10787048/detail.html

25 Jan 07, 17:20
juan: que mala onda que la ley no entrege premios y aparte amenaze con echar la migra a la raza

25 Jan 07, 21:06
JORGE: esta esacion de radio es de gente sin escrupulos, amenasaron a maribel con echarle la migra para no pagarle el carro que se gano

The Telemundo link referenced above takes readers to this Spanish- language article:

Demandan a “la Ley”

PUBLICADO: 18 de enero de 2007, a las 5:26 pm (centro)

CHICAGO, Illinois -- Una radioemisora local en español ha sido demandada por negarse a entregar un premio ganado por una radio oyente durante un festival. ¿La razón? Según la ganadora demandante, por ser inmigrante indocumentada.

Se trata de una emisora que fue líder en las marchas pro inmigrantes en Chicago. Sin embargo al ser demanda, son los abogados de la misma estación radial los que amenazan con reportar la ganadora a inmigración.

“En Chicago manda la Ley”, es la frase que identifica la emisora "la Ley, 107.9 FM". La misma fue clave en motivar a los hispanos inmigrantes a marchar por las calles. Sin embargo ahora es objeto de fuertes criticas después de que un abogado de la emisora amenazara con denunciar a una radio escucha ante el servicio de inmigración.

Lo que se dijo bien claro en la carta era que si seguía insistiendo con un caso legal, ellos llamarían a inmigración.

Regardless of how one might feel about illegal immigration and enforcement of existing laws, this one ought to be quite simple: without a way to report these earnings to the IRS, the station's hands are tied.

If La Rey could give her the car, it would represent untaxed winnings to the tune of thousands of dollars, which simply isn't fair to law- abiding, taxpaying residents who would have to report the income had they instead won the contest.

In effect, handing the keys to Alvarez means giving an illegal immigrant a special tax break. Is that reasonable?

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Images: AP, La Ley FM


  • No, it is not reasonable.

    And this young lady, rather than crying over the loss of a sports car, should rather contemplate the fact that she is damn lucky she hasn't been deported by now....

    I'm so tired of this lawlessness, and the people of this country had better wake up, because NO ONE is happy with the status quo.


    (On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't a plant.)

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 25 January, 2007 23:18  

  • Here is a solution. The radio station offers her the cash value of the car and withholds tax at the highest marginal tax rate (fed and state).

    She then gets deported.

    By Blogger Elmonica, at 26 January, 2007 01:13  

  • It never ceases to amaze me how dumb even a major market station can be. The very fact that they supposedly did bot include a legal resident disclaimer in amazing. If they didn't properly inform her that legal residency was required, didn't have her sign a release form or contest rules, they are on the hook. The fact that the lawyer would resort to threatening to report her to immigration shows how weak their case is. They screwed up... they should pay. Simplest way is to make the prize contest value plus... the station pays the taxes on the retail value of the prize, fires the moron who didn't make sure the clause was included in the rules and calls it a day. When stations start threatening to report their listeners to law enforcement for something the station screws up, they might as well sell the station and flip the format. They're pooch is screwed with these listeners. And for those who think they should have her deported, a radio station is not a law enforcement agency. It is not their job to report the criminal infractions of any listener be it illegal immigration, speeding or parking next to a fire hydrant.

    By Blogger Dave Carroll, at 26 January, 2007 04:37  

  • breast cancer, cervical cancer, and she's in the country illegally?

    but yeah, losing the car is definitely her most pressing problem.

    By Blogger hardcore conservative genious, at 26 January, 2007 11:04  

  • She gets no car, she gets deported. The only fair (and legal)thing to do. And since her lawyer knows where she is, is he not, in some translation of the law, harboring an illegal immigrant?

    If she has those types of cancer, I agree with HCG, in that the car is the least of her concerns.

    And Brian, its been 20 years since I studied Spanish, man. No way was I gonna understand those comments or that story that you posted in Spanish. Cut a guy a break, would ya? :)

    By Blogger Stacy, at 26 January, 2007 12:46  

  • I sat in traffic court, awaiting my turn, while a young immigrant woman who could not speak English responded to the judge through an interpreter that no, she did not have insurance or a drivers license at the time of the infraction, and had neither at the time she was in court.

    In short, she broke the law, and was going to continue to do so.

    So, the judge handed down a $500 fine and an insistence that she never sin again - well, insist is actually much too strong a word.

    I'm sure there were much higher potential penalties, including jail time.

    Yet, nothing happened.

    To say I was perturbed is putting it mildly

    By Blogger TJ, at 26 January, 2007 12:58  

  • Pay her the cash value of the car (net of taxes) on the condition she turns herself over to immigration.

    There are millions of illegals whose status is known or suspected that are paid every week by their employers. This practice goes on because of lack of political will by Congress (Republican and Democrats). Therefore, why make an example of this one woman?

    The radio station is hypocritical. They target Hispanic listeners; they support legislation favorable to illegals; they generate revenue from advertisers who wish to target this market; they make no disclosure regarding the eligibility of illegals; but they don't wany to pay this woman a prize because she is illegal. Are they worried about the political fall out over it?

    The tax issue is not the reason. There are specific provisions in the internal revenue code that allows withholding on payments to individuals where proper taxpayer identification numbers have not been provided.

    By Blogger Elmonica, at 26 January, 2007 14:11  

  • Could an English translation to the above foreign-language excerpts not be provided?

    Those of us "lefties" who oppose the Bush Crime Family's Republican globalist open-borders policy designed to flood the US with foreign slave labor and destroy what is left of American labor and do not feel obligated to learn other than America's official language may not be able to understand fully your article.

    If I wanted to read directives issued in Spanish, I'll go to my laundry room and pull out my bottle of Liquid Tide.....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 26 January, 2007 14:26  

  • As a gringo who studied Spanish in Guatemala for a year here is my imperfect translation of the Telemundo article. If I have time I will interpret the few comments made by listeners later. By the way the station refers to itself as "The Law, 107.9 FM". The title of the article is "They sue The Law" whereby the "The Law" is the nickname of the radio station.

    A local spanish radio station has been sued for refusing to deliver a prize won by a radio listener during a festival. The reason? According to the winner (plaintiff), for being an indocumented immigrant.

    [Begin translation]
    It is about a radio station that was a leader in the pro-immigrant parades in Chicago. However, upon being sued, the lawyers of the same radio station threatened to report the winner to immigration.

    "In Chicago demand the law" is the phrase that identifies the station "The Law, 107.9 FM). The same was key in motivating the immigrant hispanics to march through the streets. However, the station is now the object of strong criticism after a lawyer of the station threatened to report a radio listener to the service of immigration.

    What what clearly said in the letter (by the lawyers) was that if she continues insisting on a legal case, they would call immigration.

    [End Translation]

    By Blogger Elmonica, at 26 January, 2007 14:47  

  • Actually the translation begins one paragraph up from where indicated.

    By Blogger Elmonica, at 26 January, 2007 14:55  

  • Ah, elmonica, and thank you for the translation.

    Well, IMHO, this girl left herself wide open for that sort of maneuver.

    OK, flame away, but I feel we've reached the point where foreign-language broadcasting is causing divisiveness and doing the country more harm than good.

    My solution is to migrate all foreign-language programming to the shortwave band, and revitalize shortwave radio at the same time.

    Shortwave radios are not particularly expensive, the potential exists for such programming to be beamed to the listener's countries of origin in some cases, and Spanish listeners in particular can be delivered from the inevitable Puerto Rican/Mexican/Domincan/etc. radio wars....

    Amazing, how much more room would magically be available for liberal and moderate radio outlets if divisive foreign-language niche programming were to disappear from the AM dial.....

    But so-called "traditionalist" conservatives (that no longer exist) are beholden to finance capitalists who make a mint off the invading hordes on billings.

    Terrestrial talk radio is history.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 26 January, 2007 15:30  

  • This is coming to a point that it is getting dangerous. People are fed up with these criminal aliens and are arming themselves.

    Will be interesting to see when the 2nd Mexican war gets started. With 30 some states now with either conceal carry or must issue out.

    By Blogger mrbill, at 26 January, 2007 15:38  

  • Uh, 'More room for liberal talk radio'? If there was such a huge calling for Liberal Talk radio, why is it that Air America went broke TWICE? heck, what with all the FREE PUBLICITY it got in the print and broadcast media it's not as if nobody heard of them or anything....

    By Blogger Rorschach, at 26 January, 2007 17:23  

  • In the forum quote, Juan is also complaining about calling ICE/formerly INS ("migra") on someone of The Race ("la raza").

    I'm pretty sure that she could get an ITIN number and use that instead of an SSN. ITINs are partially a part of the infrastructure our federal government is working on to profit from illegal activity.

    Whether she's here legally or not, if she met the other requirements and can come up with a number, just give her the damn car.

    While this does help show once again that money is the root of almost all support for illegal immigration.

    Here's more on the marches, some of which the station was involved with. Rather than agonizing over the car issue, I'd suggest people concentrate on, for instance, look into possible links between the station's personalities and those linked to Mexican institutions.

    By Blogger LonewackoDotCom, at 26 January, 2007 21:06  

  • "If there was such a huge calling for Liberal Talk radio, why is it that Air America went broke TWICE?"

    Because neocon moneychangers infiltrated AAR and made sure that they did....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 26 January, 2007 21:13  

  • Lonewacko, the stations are allowed to be linked to whatever Mexican institutions they want to be....

    It is the lawbreaking, as well as the way in which the lawbreakers came to be here, that the American people have a beef with.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 26 January, 2007 21:16  

  • Funnily enough, I don't see the usual cast of wingnuts and freaks weighing in on this one....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 29 January, 2007 01:14  

  • Hash,

    Maybe people are so tied up laughing at the liberal outrage. What did Clinton do in his 8 years in office to stem the flow of Illegals? Nothing, he fostered it by neutering the Border Patrol and keeping it woefully understaffed. Not only that, in New Mexico he allowed a cwearing in of new citizens to be done in Spanish only. So stuff your rage at Conservatives you liberal wacko.

    The woman should be deported forthwith along with all the other illegals.

    By Blogger PCD, at 30 January, 2007 10:41  

  • If you cannot pay taxes like any other legal person then you don't get the vehicle. Give me her address and I'll report her to INS if the radio station can't do it. I am so tired of all the illegals in this country- mexicans or not. We should have a database for everyone who enters this country visiting, on a visa so they will not overstay their time. It should be a federal law that you or anyone in your family will not be allowed school registration, driver's license or state ids,state or federal aid and hospital care without proof of citizenship.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 December, 2011 00:17  

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