Coverage of the wall has lacked context
- A government shutdown now rages over a border wall, and news outlets are in overdrive covering the political horse race.
- Meanwhile, immigrant children continue to be jailed and killed in detention facilities. These things are related, and coverage of the border wall should highlight these connections.
- We must humanize the conversation. Because the consequences are life or death, we must make sure to feature voices from the border region, asylum seekers and refugees.
Building a new wall is widely unpopular in border communities
Full poll here
Walls are expensive, and would be paid for by American taxpayers for decades to come
- The Department of Homeland Security’s estimate for the construction of the wall stands at $21.6 billion.
- These costs for the wall are well beyond what the president is holding Congress hostage for. When reporting on this, reporters would be better served reporting the full cost of the wall.
- Trump has stated on at least 20 occasions that Mexico, not U.S. taxpayers, would pay for the wall. This government shutdown is proof American taxpayers would be paying for the wall if the president got his way.
This is a manufactured “crisis” caused by the Trump administration’s actions on asylum at the border
- Unauthorized migration has been declining for years. Some of the people attempting to enter the country through ports of entry are currently seeking asylum.
- Since the Trump administration severely curtailed the ability for people to claim asylum, many cross the border in places that are not a port of entry in an attempt to apply.
- Prior to these rule changes, it was legal for asylum-seekers to cross anywhere. Their actions have created a crisis at the border which did not previously exist.
Language has become weaponized, so avoid dehumanizing language about immigrants
- Undocumented Americans and New Americans commit less crime than native-born citizens.
- In fact, studies have shown that the more immigrants in a community, the more crime falls. Reporters should provide this important context when reporting on the border wall.
- Reporters should also always strive to use humanizing language and provide context when reporting on the president’s comments about immigrants and the border wall.
Walls are ineffective at best
- A physical structure at the border would stop less than half of undocumented immigration to the U.S.
- Former Republican presidents have spoken out boldly against walls in other countries. Ronald Reagan famously proclaimed, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
- In Israel last year, 60,000 Palestinians were reported to be working without permits, despite having one of the most advanced and dangerous border walls in the world.
Terrorists are not coming through our southwest border
- Calling someone a “suspected terrorist” is a very different thing than saying someone is in the terrorist database, which has its own issues. “Special interest aliens” are not “suspected terrorists.” Journalists using these these terms interchangeably are misleading the public.
- According to Fox News’ Chris Wallace, citing the State Department, there has not been a single terrorist picked up crossing the Southern border.
- During the first half of 2018, seven times more suspected terrorists were stopped on the Canadian border.