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OPINION: The Press Fuels The Hatred Towards Immigrants and Migrants

Immigrants and migrant workers believe that the press is fueling micro-aggressions and hate towards them.

Photo from CNN


Oct. 1, 2023

By Sophia Labordo

NORTH CAROLINA—In 2022, there were over 42.2 million foreign-born individuals and immigrants residing in the United States, an increase of 2.9 million since 2021. These foreign-born workers made up 17% of the workforce, often occupying understaffed jobs such as nursing, teaching, and agriculture.

Each year, a new wave of immigrants to the United States brings with it an increase in media disparaging the entry of migrants into the nation. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have substantially intensified the xenophobia and racism seen on the news and social media, increasing the number of negative opinions and blatant hate towards those entering the United States. Most often, immigrants are spoken of in the press and media in terms of statistics and numbers, but according to StandUp4HumanRights, an organization by United Nations Human Rights, the personal stories of these people need to be heard–yet, the media fails to respond.

The press provides a channel for ideas to flow through and be delivered to different parts of the world. Specific groups that have access to media and the press, such as MAGA in the US, can easily spread anti-immigrant ideas. If Mayor Eric Adams faces a room full of news stations and states: “This issue will destroy New York City,” in regards to the influx of migrants moving to the city, the negative consequences associated with migrants will draw attention to the issue, spreading xenophobic ideals. The problem is that people continue to spread these ideas, often believing what they are saying is acceptable, without knowing the consequences.

In a survey and interview I conducted, immigrants and migrant workers were asked what hate crimes or hate they’ve experienced. One immigrant answered, “I was filmed without my consent. They asked if we lived in the area while filming us.” They explained that they believe the person held biases against immigrants and wanted to know if the workers were trespassing under the guise of helping to protect their community. In another submission, an immigrant nurse responded, “My co-workers doubted my certifications.” To doubt a nurse’s certifications simply because they’re from a different country dehumanizes them by refusing to acknowledge the work they put in to achieve their position. When asked if they believed the press had fueled or caused their experiences, both interviewees answered yes. The survey concluded that 60% of migrant workers and immigrants have seen press related to them, and out of the 60%, 100% say that the press was bad or described them in a bad light. 33% believe that the reasons for them being targeted with hate were fueled or caused by the press.

Most, if not all immigrants feel as if they are represented in the press in a negative way. Large, conservative media outlets with millions of viewers across the nation present anti-immigrant ideals to a large, loyal audience. Press, such as those propagating the idea that immigrants ruin the economy or are dangerous and aggressive to citizens, are published daily for the general population to view. Their visa statuses are used in headlines and are often disclosed, no matter how irrelevant to the news, causing the influx of a subconscious bias that allows for the normalization of microaggressions in one’s mindset.

Historically used to spread political or wartime propaganda, the press is a powerful tool that can be used to spread powerful knowledge, as well as manipulate the general population’s mindset. While the press is necessary and an exercise of the first amendment, there needs to be an understanding regarding how easily it can be manipulated and used to impact various communities. The press is to a belief or an idea as oxygen is to fire–it fuels it. In regards to immigrants and migrant workers, the press have turned a light into a wildfire. With more and more published articles, interviews, op-eds, etc. the press have unfortunately fueled the hatred and aggression towards immigrants and migrant workers.

Deputy Director of the Media Relations Team at Teens for Press Freedom, Aydin Levy, shares that,“Recognizing the way information is being presented is undeniably crucial when it comes to press. As a nation, biases will always be prevalent within the media- within what's being presented, who's presenting it, where it's coming from ect., making it critical to unpack that bias and uplift a variety of voices. At the same time, while it's important to acknowledge every source has bias, it's unjustifiable that the data regarding immigrants is so severely skewed. The way immigrants are presented within the media enforces a false narrative and we must end the vicious cycle.”



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