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As the United States prepares to end the pandemic-era rule that allowed officials to bar most migrants from crossing the Mexican border, much of the news coverage has focused on the expected “surge” in migration.
News outlets are largely ignoring the reason thousands of people make the dangerous journey to the U.S. each month.
A portion of the U.S. code, Title 42, was implemented first by former twice-impeached president Donald Trump and then by President Biden to repel migrants who attempted to enter a U.S. port of entry. Because the U.S. had declared a public health emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic, officials were able to use Title 42 to deny migrants entry over health concerns.
Yet with Biden’s emergency declaration set to end at midnight on Thursday, the rule is set to end along with it. While the White House is implementing new strict rules to take the place of Title 42, media outlets across the nation are speaking about the expected increase in migration as if it’s some kind of armed invasion.
In a nation with more mass shootings than any other developed country, with many of them racially-motivated, news media play a crucial role in providing information that doesn’t lead to fearmongering.
News outlets spread fear of migrant “surge”
According to international law, the right for migrants to seek asylum at any port of entry at any country’s border is supposed to be protected. The rights were enshrined by world governments at the Geneva Refugee Convention following World War II, the International Rescue Committee notes.
Yet U.S. presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have sidestepped those rights by asserting rules like Title 42, which make exceptions for health-related emergencies.
With the U.S. pandemic-era emergency declaration set to end at midnight, thousands more migrants are expected to seek entry into the country via the southern border.
Daily apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border have already risen to 10,000 on Monday and Tuesday, according to the Guardian. Major media outlets have seized on the moment to spread fear among an already xenophobic population.
News outlets across the political spectrum, from Fox News to Reuters, published headlines touting the over 10,000 migrants coming to the U.S. daily.
To be sure, border towns in Texas are absolutely becoming overwhelmed due to a lack of resources. Yet that points to a need to provide more humanitarian solutions to these communities, not more security and rules to keep people out.
Xenophobia leads to real-world violence
The El Paso shooter that killed 20 people in 2019 said he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible in a manifesto describing his motive, ABC News reported.
More recently, one of two Texas brothers who authorities say opened fire on a group of migrants getting water near the U.S.-Mexico border was warden at a detention facility with a history of abuse allegations.
White supremacist politicians in Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene are already stoking the flames of xenophobia by calling legal migration an “invasion.” Media outlets shouldn’t add gasoline to the fire by refusing to humanize the people seeking a better life for their families.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Those are the words etched in bronze and mounted on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal.
History and our creator will judge us by the way we treated the least of these.