IMMIGRATION DETENTION IN THE MEDIA
President Trump’s issuance of executive orders calling for an expansion of immigration enforcement and banning travel from 7 countries allegedly affiliated with terrorism caused a public and media uproar. It also threw a spotlight on the vast yet shadowy U.S. immigration detention system.
In February 2017 we released a 77-page report on how immigration detention has been portrayed in the media since 2009.
The report, Immigration Detention the Media: Missing Migrant Voices and the Need for Humanistic Storytelling, assesses media coverage of immigration detention over the past 8 years and surveys prominent immigration journalists to reveal that migrant voices and experiences have been systematically silenced in the mainstream media.
• Opportunity: Immigration detention is three times more visible now than in 2009. Coverage is largely critical, highlighting flaws and abuses within the system.
• Challenge: The quality of coverage is still lacking. The complex realities of the detention system remain hidden from public view and there remains a dearth of first-hand migrant accounts. The main reason behind this is that the U.S. government makes it difficult for reporters to access people in detention
• Media outlets should focus on solutions-based coverage.
• Media-makers should increase their efforts to include first-hand migrant accounts in their reporting, and collaborate with organizations like CIVIC that serve migrants in detention and affected communities.
• The U.S. government should ease restrictions on reporters when visiting immigration detention facilities.
• Non-profit organizations serving immigrants should embrace storytelling as a means for social change.