Surge of migrants at border draws renewed attention as ‘crisis’ talk spreads

by MMC
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The debate is over immigration to the southern border rages again, dominating the debate Republican debatessparking criticism of White House policy among a growing number of Democratsand fueling renewed media coverage and protests in cities flooded by an influx of migrants.

While it remains to be seen whether immigration will be front and center in the 2024 presidential election, as was the case in 2020Momentum has been building in recent weeks and has been re-energized with a tougher tone from both Republicans and Democrats, observers say.

During the second GOP presidential primary debate, candidates mentioned the “border” about 20 times, with some threatening military intervention to “eliminate” drug cartels in Mexico and secure the border.

A review of Fox News coverage shows an increase in airtime given to reporting on the southern border in recent weeks, after a summer devoted to more news about gender identity.

The increase in media coverage is explained by how the number of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border illegally has increased steadily since early September, NBC News reportedwith more than 200,000 migrants crossing the border illegally last month – a record for 2023. This number is up from more than 182,700 people encountered by border agents in September 2022 and 142,710 people in September 2021, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

Large cities, including new York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia And Denverreported a surge in the migrant population after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, began busing asylum seekers to what is known as sanctuary cities. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, applied a similar tactic last year: send two planes of migrants on Martha’s Vineyard, an upscale island in Massachusetts.

Texas National Guard troops monitor immigrants who crossed the Rio Grande into the United States from Mexico Sept. 27 in Eagle Pass, Texas. File John Moore/Getty Images

Initially, Democratic leaders from Texas to New York denounced actions such as “horrible” And “fanatic” and vowed to be more welcoming, but as the surge has overwhelmed cities now scrambling to find emergency shelters and classrooms for migrant children, some of those same officials have changed course.

The office of New York Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, announced that he will tour Latin American countries this week to better understand how asylum seekers arrive in the United States, a trip that following his recent remarks deploring how the arrival of 10,000 migrants per month in New York is a “problem that will destroy” the city. On Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said he would travel to the southern border, but did not say when exactly that trip would take place.

Kathy Hochul, Governor of New York pleaded on CNN last month that “if you have to leave your country, go somewhere else,” and reiterated on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, the border is “too open at the moment”.

“We are one of the most diverse places in the world because of our welcoming nature, and it is in our DNA to welcome immigrants,” Hochul said. “But there must be some limits.”

Frustrations with a deepening “crisis” don’t just come from New York’s leaders.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor, both Democrats, had a call with the White House Sunday to discuss how migrants have strained housing and social services since their arrival 13 months ago, creating a “humanitarian crisis.” Pritzker, in a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday, wrote that the federal government’s “lack of intervention and coordination at the border has created an untenable situation for Illinois,” which is expected to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention .

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said her state’s border communities are also “struggling” with more migrants and little help from the federal government.

“Time and again, I have asked the Biden administration for help at the border, but instead they have chosen to redirect resources to expedite the release of migrants without the support and coordination that our local communities,” Hobbs said last month.

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent arrives to pick up a family of five claiming to be from Guatemala after crossing the border fence in the Tucson sector of the U.S.-Mexico border, on Aug. 29 at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Lukeville. , Arizona. Matt York / AP file

A White House spokesperson said in a statement that Biden has supported “comprehensive immigration reform since his first day in office” and blamed House Republicans for blocking efforts, including approval of $4 billion to meet the needs of the Department of Homeland Security. .

A Trump era border immigration policy put in place during the pandemic was lifted by the Biden administration in May. Covid restrictions had allowed Border Patrol agents to quickly turn away migrants at the border over the past three years, but with its end, the United States saw an uptick following fears of a push that did not immediately materialize.

Today, this has important voices beyond politicians trying to direct the debate. Tech billionaire Elon Musk visited the Texas-Mexico border last week.posting in a selfie video on migrants to “break the law”.

Musk is himself a South African immigrant and calls himself “extremely pro-immigrant,” Reuters reported.

AJ Bauer, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Alabama who focuses on right-wing media, said more harsh language would only embolden anti-migrant sentiment rather than provide real solutions. .

The anti-immigration far right could be “amplifying a narrative of ‘crisis’ at the border — which pretty directly serves its overt ideological goals, and it’s not particularly new,” Bauer said. “I am most troubled by the ‘crisis’ rhetoric coming from Democratic officials like Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul.”

“Their rhetoric and stunts extend the right-wing framework into mainstream, liberal discourse in a way that only aids and abets the right,” Bauer added.

The question remained constant for former President Donald Trump, who in his remarks in the courtroom of his civil trial for financial fraud on Monday attacked the Biden administration for “what they did with the open borders…it’s a disgrace.”

While Republicans are largely united on support for border control, there are growing divisions over how to tackle immigration among Democrats following the influx of migrants being bused to cities like New York, placing probably the question “at the center of many right-wing concerns.” media messages in this campaign season,” said Matthew Sheffield, a former conservative media consultant and now publisher of Flux, an independent media outlet.

Reece Peck, associate professor of media culture at the City University of New York-College of Staten Island, said he expects media coverage to intensify in the coming months as the presidential campaign intensifies.

Added to this will be how the problem is amplified on social media sites such as Musk-owned X.

Now, Peck said, someone like Musk can shine a light on a topic like few can.

“We are at the end of an era where the influence of the cable news-centric landscape of the 2000s is waning,” Peck said. “We’ve been watching the binge-streaming media industry, and Musk has positioned himself as this new conservative media baron who sets an agenda where people cut the cord and don’t watch cable. He’s trying to play the role of Rupert Murdoch 2.0. »

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