SCOTT SIMON, Host:
In Washington, D.C. this week, something happened just a few blocks from Congress, where politicians debate and declaim about illegal immigrants. This week there were pounding rains up and down the Eastern seaboard. On Thursday, Bernice Clark was driving along Rhode Island Avenue in Washington with her great-grandson when her car was stopped dead by flooding.
Water surged into the passenger compartment. Her great-grandson, Davonte Williams, pushed open his door and leapt out, but Bernice Clark was stuck in the driver's seat. Her great-grandson tried to find his way back to pull her out, but as the water rose higher each second it pulled Davonte Williams away from the car and put more pressure on the door that his frail great-grandmother struggled to open.
When the water was at the steering wheel, Bernice Clark told David Schultz of WAMU in Washington, I saw all this trash that was coming in with water - I knew that was it.
W: Wow, woman fighting for her life right in front of me, look at this pic. The man stripped off his clothes and dove into the cold, grimy, churning waters.
He came over and jumped into where we were and brought me out, says Bernice Clark. I was alive. He saved me. And then the man went away. He didn't stay around to receive congratulations or join Bernice Clark and her great-grandson for some hot soup and receive their tearful thanks for saving their lives.
There may be several reasons why the man didn't stay at the scene of the rescue. The likeliest may be that he's an illegal immigrant from Latin America who feared that police would soon show up and ask for proof of his identity. It is not easy - in fact it's illegal - for a policeman to say these days, you saved people, nice work, I'll pretend you weren't here.
As people in Congress debate illegal immigration, they might want to think a bit about this unidentified stranger who may be doing backbreaking work for little money in their own backyards and apartment blocks. This man may seem invisible to many, but when he saw someone in danger and distress, he risked his life to save them.
He was a hero. He was a model citizen.
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