Dora The Undocumented Immigrant Explorer

Dora The Undocumented Immigrant Explorer - Graphic: Debbie Groben/Freaking News

Little Dora can’t explore anymore, she’s on the run!

It all started with a Photoshop spoof, months before Arizona’s new immigration law – SB 1070 – became part of the daily news digest. Debbie Groben, aka Andwhat entered her doctored image of the educational cartoon character Dora the Explorer (she teaches millions of pre-schoolers Spanish on her TV show) into a contest on

All of a sudden, after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the controversial bill, Groben’s satirical image (she says she likes Dora, and opposes Arizona’s law) tapped into the zeitgeist around immigration reform, and quickly spiraled into an Internet phenomenon. The image is now popping up on blogs, newspapers, and television as people debate Arizona’s law that requires police to stop people they suspect are undocumented and demand identification.

Politics and humor have an everlasting relationship, and Dora, who is genuinely adored by millions of children, is now being used as a foil for thousands of cynics who consider the new law just plain ridiculous. A Facebook page emerged, titled “Dora the Explorer is soo an Illegal Immigrant,” that is “liked” by 55,876 people, and counting. And Freaking News recently sponsored another contest, daring people to “Photoshop what Dora the Explorer’s life would be like if Dora were an illegal immigrant in Arizona.” (See the slideshow below for a selection of these images).
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But others are taking Dora, as a representative to the Hispanic community, more seriously. The U.S. Census bureau enlisted the character in their campaign to encourage families to fill out the census form.

Luckily for Dora, there is no citizenship question on the census form.

In fact, Dora’s legal status is purposely undefined. Dan Martinsen, a Nickelodeon spokesman, told that he’d heard about the images but didn’t want to comment on them. Martinsen wouldn’t give a yes or no answer when asked if Dora had papers, he only reiterated that she is a fictional character.

“Dora is an animated character,” said Martinsen. “She was developed to be pan-Latina to represent the diversity of Latino cultures.”

Well, if she’s pan-Latina and living in Arizona, that would mean she’s probably pretty scared right now.

AboutSarah Kate Kramer
Sarah Kate Kramer first got hooked on collecting stories as a StoryCorps facilitator, then traveled the world with a microphone for a few years before settling down in her hometown of New York City. From 2010-2012 she was the editor of Feet in 2 Worlds and a freelance reporter for WNYC Radio, where she created “Niche Market,” a weekly segment that profiled specialty stores in New York. Sarah is now a producer at Radio Diaries, a non-profit that produces documentaries for NPR and other public radio outlets.