The Distortion of the Immigration Debate: The Donald Trump Example

go-bck-uniOne of the hardest things I face when discussing immigration with others is that I must spend an inordinate amount of time just trying to dispel the many myths and distortions about immigration pushed forth via the sound bites of the news media. It is not the news media’s fault because they rely on the sound bites of the political operatives to fill their reports. It is impossible for me to address each of the distortions in one blog post because to do so would require a book. Even then, I probably would not be able to address all of them.

Instead, what I am going to do is point out snippets of distortion every time I have an opportunity to do so. It is my hope that by the time we get to the presidential elections that I will have a body of work that I can use to dispel the many myths.

Case in point is the August 26, 2015 Atlantic article by Priscilla Alvarez titled “A Telling Confrontation Between Donald Trump and a Univision Anchor.”

Alvarez writes “[Jorge] Ramos, who has been called the Walter Cronkite of Latino America, holds a position of tremendous influence within the Hispanic community. So does Univision, which has become perhaps the strongest voice on politics within the Spanish-language press – although not always an objective one.”

Her write up does not bother me until she inexplicably adds the following, from The New York Times:

About 58 percent of all mentions of Mr. Trump in mainstream news media, broadcast, cable, radio and online outlets, in thee pat month have focused on immigration, while Spanish-language news programs, the proportion is almost 80 percent.”

Hmm, English speakers in the United States are generally engaged politically and their focus is predominantly the economy. Their personal perspective encompasses various political issues, most of them having the economy as the nexus. A subset of that is immigration. Of course, the news media that serves them provides them the context that interests them.

On the other hand, Spanish speakers, generally, are consumed by the issue of immigration, whether they are documented, or not. It makes sense that their interest is focused on immigration over the other domestic issues.

Spanish speaking media is not focusing on immigration because they are not being “objective,” but rather because they providing their consumers the information they seek. The Atlantic, The New York Times and Univision provides the content that their readers or viewers want.

It is as simple as that. However, reading the Atlantic piece, the reader is left with the erroneous notion that Spanish language media is distorting the immigration debate because they are providing their viewers what they seek.

I do not believe that Priscilla Alvarez intended the perception she left readers with but rather she is writing from an Anglo-centric perception that leaves her with the wrong reasons for the percentages of why Spanish language media reports about immigration have higher numbers.

It is impossible to have a meaningful discussion about immigration without removing the distorted facts. As with all national politics, immigrants are the easiest rhetoric to use because immigrants are a nonvoting constituency that cannot harm the political careers of the politicians, regardless of the statements they utter. The immigrants that can vote do not do so, exasperating the problem for all of us.