Miami Herald Praises Humanitarian Approach To Immigration In Stark Contrast To Conservative Media’s Routine Demonization Of Immigrants
Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE
The Miami Herald editorial board praised recent efforts by the Obama administration to address immigration by those fleeing violence from Central American countries, providing important context that right-wing media often ignore in attempts to demonize immigrants.
The board pointed out that the administration’s expansion of its “Central American refugee program” is an attempt to live “up to this country’s humanitarian values,” underscoring that “seeking shelter from gang violence in Central America” is what has caused increases in the number of immigrants. This context draws a stark contrast to conservative media’s routine demonization of immigrants, which includes blaming them for diseases, terrorism, or stealing American jobs or misrepresenting government immigration policies as “lawlessness.” Fox News recently mischaracterized the new government immigration policy that protects “sensitive locations” by failing to explain its objective of improving “public understanding and trust.” Conservative media misinformation and demonization of immigrants has inspired the harsh anti-immigrant tone in right-wing politics.
In the August 2 editorial, the Herald noted that “the administration deserves credit for acknowledging that more needs to be done” and explained that the new initiative provides incentives for Central American refugees to avoid the perilous journey to the United States, prioritizes opportunities for those in urgent need of refugee assistance, works to keep more families together, and undermines migrant smuggling activities:
The Obama administration substantially expanded its Central American refugee program last week by making entire families eligible for approval, expanding refugee processing in Central America and offering immediate protection for some in Costa Rica.
This will not put an end to the border crisis caused by the dramatic increase in migrants seeking shelter from gang violence in Central America, but the administration deserves credit for acknowledging that more needs to be done.
For years, the administration has been under pressure from Congress and the public to devise a program that can deal with the crisis in a way that meets the often conflicting goals of living up to this country’s humanitarian values while keeping our borders from being overrun.
This is a tall order, particularly in an election year in which immigration is a hot-button issue. It is important to declare plainly that the “expansion” is no open door for new waves of migrants. It will be limited, administration officials say, to those who have legitimate claims of asylum because of the violence they face in their home countries and communities.
The most welcome aspect of the program consists of the reassurance that the administration remains committed to finding a way to tackle immigration in a safe and responsible manner despite criticism from all sides that it is either doing too much (deportations) or not enough (by failing to protect the border, or turning back migrants who deserve to have their asylum claims heard).
The expansion announced last week cannot possibly accommodate all those individuals in Central America, young and old, who are desperate to flee, but it creates priorities and speeds up the review of legitimate claims. It also undermines the activities of “coyotes” who charge exorbitant fees for smuggling migrants across the border.