Cable news largely ignores the Trump administration's latest assault on protections for immigrant families
Ending the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) of Central American and Haitian immigrants would tear apart families and hurt the U.S. economy
Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE
The Trump administration announced last week that it will not renew the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation that protected eligible Nicaraguan citizens from deportation and will delay its decision on the designation for Hondurans, triggering fear and uncertainty for thousands of immigrants. CNN and MSNBC virtually ignored the news, leaving a cable news void for Fox News to fill with anti-immigrant coverage.
Congress established TPS in 1990 under the George H. W. Bush administration with the purpose of providing immigrants whose countries were ravaged by natural disasters or violent conflict with temporary legal status and work permits. TPS recipients, the majority of which immigrated from Central America and Haiti decades ago, are deeply ingrained in the social fabric of the country and make important contributions to the U.S. economy. The Center for American Progress found that the U.S. would incur a $164 billion loss in gross domestic product (GDP), a $6.9 billion reduction to Social Security and Medicare contributions over a decade, and $967 million in turnover costs to employers should DHS decide not to renew TPS for Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian immigrants. Furthermore, experts predict that ending the program would increase security threats and gang activity in both the United States and Central America and destabilize many Central American economies that depend on remittances from the U.S., effectively compounding the issue of illegal immigration.
Every six months, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must decide whether to renew the designation for beneficiaries of TPS. On November 6, the department announced that it would end the TPS designation for Nicaraguans but delay its decision on the designation for Hondurans for another six months. In line with President Donald Trump’s harsh anti-immigrant stances, the State Department has urged DHS to end the TPS designations for Central Americans and Haitians despite concerns from human rights advocates and many lawmakers, and this week White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called for the department not to wait on ending the protection for Hondurans.
Cable news networks have practically ignored the announcement despite its significance for immigrants and nonimmigrants alike. A Media Matters analysis of TPS coverage over the past two weeks found that CNN and MSNBC each reported on the news only once and with little detail. Fox News reported on the TPS decision twice, at one point hosting an anti-immigrant activist who outright lobbied for the program to end. This isn’t unusual: Despite the importance of immigration policy to voters, another Media Matters study showed that CNN’s and MSNBC’s coverage of the issue is usually scant compared to that of Fox News, whose coverage consistently carries a negative tone.
Given the high stakes of DHS’ decisions on upcoming TPS renewal deadlines, it is important that mainstream news outlets end their habitual indifference to immigration-related news that affects human rights, national security, and the economy.
Media Matters searched SnapStream for "temporary protected status" or "TPS" or "honduras" or "nicaragua" or "deportation" or “temporary” on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News from October 30 to November 13 and counted coverage of DHS’ decision on TPS designations for Nicaraguans and Hondurans. Situations in which a network host or correspondent asked a question or reported on the program were counted; mentions of the program by guests were not counted.