The mainstream and alternative media’s narrative is solely focused on the ongoing coronavirus news. With more cases updated on a daily basis, the media’s headlines instill feelings of panic across the country. NowThis News joined in on the coronavirus news cycle and claimed that the Trump administration is endangering immigrants’ lives with immigration policies and procedures.
NowThis News headlined the issue, “How The Coronavirus Is Affecting Immigrants and Refugees,” and it was an extensive piece by NowThis News’s standards. The article had a total of 464 words, when many of the website’s articles have word counts of about 200 words, which word count indicated the level of interest that the website had on this issue.
The website made several arguments:
- Migrant camps are “uniquely vulnerable to illnesses” due to crowded conditions and lack of “access to enough resources,”
- Trump’s “public charge rule” makes it “more difficult” for legal immigrants to obtain a green card to later obtain benefits such as Medicaid,
- The administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy meant immigrants are stuck in Mexico in crowded camps and are at risk of “robberies, assault, or illness,”
- Noncitizens “are already more likely to be uninsured to begin with” and do not have resources to access health care if they contract the coronavirus.
It was clear from its list of arguments that NowThis News preferred that immigrants waiting for asylum processing should be released into the United States. U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued an order last year that immigration judges should not release migrants on bail because the “catch and release” policy allowed “vast numbers of undocumented migrants to disappear into the population.” Though the majority of migrants return for their hearings, ranging between 60% and 75%, it also meant that between 25% and 40% of migrants never return for their hearings and are not heard from again. The lack of accountability for migrants who disappear could pose a national security risk to American communities, which concern NowThis News never addressed.
So far, migrants along the Mexico-U.S. border have not been exposed to the coronavirus and there is no evidence that Trump’s policies put migrants at a “higher risk” for contracting the coronavirus. As a part of a binational agreement, Mexico is taking steps to manage the migrant camps until the migrants are processed and it is not the U.S.’s responsibility to do so at this time. NowThis News should have criticized the Mexican government, not the U.S. government, over the camps’ conditions. The U.S. government also said that migrants could seek medical care in the U.S., though NowThis News was skeptical of how the announcement would work in practice.
NowThis News chose to engage in partisan rhetoric when it came to the coronavirus and immigration, instead of pressuring the Mexican government to take the coronavirus more seriously at the migrant camps along the U.S.-Mexico border.