A month ago, MIREMS's sister company in the US, MIREMS International, reviewed how America's ethnic media is discussing immigration reform in the US. They saw how immigration reform was widely seen as a divisive wedge issue and how, contrary to the perception that it mostly affects Hispanics, each ethnic minority feels the impact on members of their community. They've continued this monitoring and analysis, and this is what we've learned.
With the March 5 deadline for an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program come and gone - thus rendered merely symbolic by court action - there is still no permanent solution for the Dreamers in sight. In fact, the deadline passed almost unnoticed in the ethnic media, where not only the Parkland shooting and calls for gun control but also reports on Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) raids and abuses, Trump's war on sanctuary jurisdictions, and growing fear of deportation in the immigrant community dominated the news.
The national Spanish TV station Univision has almost daily reports on raids by immigration authorities and their impact on the Hispanic population. Many immigrants, even with legal papers, are afraid to drive, take public transit and go to work after news spread that ICE was conducting operations on buses and at work places. "A nut factory outside Fresno lost 5-10 percent of its employees when a raid was announced, even though the employer checks all employees' status on e-Verify as required" (Univision, New York, 1 Mar. 2018).
While the Hispanic weekly La Raza denounced that ICE was targeting Dreamers for arrest (La Raza, Chicago, 6 Mar. 2018), the weekly Hoy Los Angeles criticized immigration authorities for separating children from their parents at the border as "cruel and unnecessary" (Hoy Los Angeles, 5 Mar. 2018).
Univision reported that only 2,000 out of 11,000 unaccompanied minors who filed asylum claims were accepted because many are unable to articulate their legitimate fears well enough (Univision, New York, 1 Mar. 2018).
The Vietnamese daily Viet Bao reported on an incident where 92 Somalis were shackled at the wrist, waist and legs for over 48 hours during their deportation, were not allowed to use the rest room and were beaten and threatened (Viet Bao, Los Angeles, 7 Mar. 2018). Also according to Viet Bao, Vietnamese immigrants across the country have filed a lawsuit alleging US authorities are rounding them up and holding them in detention facilities for deportation even though Vietnamese immigrants who came to the US before 1995 cannot be deported (Viet Bao, 1 Mar. 2018).
The national Chinese daily paper Sing Tao reported on the conflicts between mayors of sanctuary cities like Oakland and New York on the one hand and national authorities on the other. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned undocumented residents of an ICE operation in 77 California businesses and identified ICE activities as a tactic to create fear (Sing Tao USA, New York, 26 Feb. 2018). Chinese organizations, including Chinese For Affirmative Action and Chinese Progressive Association, participated in a demonstration outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in San Francisco in solidarity with the more than 10,000 undocumented Chinese migrants in San Francisco (Sing Tao Daily, San Francisco, 1 Mar. 2018).
The expiration of the DACA deadline was reported in Voice of America Vietnamese, which noted that options for a resolution were "on the back burner" and the White House apparently expecting a Supreme Court victory (VOA, Washington, DC, 6 Mar. 2018). The weekly Russian Bazaar was hopeful that the court rulings meant that DACA beneficiaries could renew their permits indefinitely, would not be deported and would eventually get permanent residence, even if it is under the next president (Russian Bazaar, New York, 28 Feb. 2018).
However, Spanish media including the Miami daily El Nuevo Herald did not believe President Trump's assurance that Dreamers "don't need to worry" about deportation and feared that their migratory limbo could be "lethal in the anti-immigrant era of Trump" (El Nuevo Herald, Miami, 6 Mar. 2018). Hoy Los Angeles and La Raza reported on high rates of anxiety and depression among Latino parents and adolescents and avoidance of medical attention, police help and social services support due to fear of immigration authorities and family separation on the part of both legal and undocumented residents (Hoy Los Angeles, 1 Mar. 2018; La Raza, Chicago, 2 Mar. 2018).
Meanwhile, Haitian and African American media focused on a lawsuit by Haitian and Salvadoran immigrants who claim President Trump's cancellation of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans was racially motivated (South Florida Times, Fort Lauderdale, 1 Mar. 2018, and Haitian Voice of America, Washington, DC, 2 Mar. 2018).
While the DACA deadline passed with little notice or end in sight, immigration issues remain a central preoccupation of the ethnic media. Each community has its own concerns and perspectives, which are reflected in the papers, websites, radio station and TV programs they turn to for news, analysis and perspectives relevant to their own lived experience.
At MIREMS, we continue to tap into these voices, and make them accessible to decision makers. For immigrants - undocumented or not - and their families, raising their voices is more imporatant now than ever.