Sin Maletas is an ongoing multimedia journalistic project, started in 2016 by Mexican news outlet Lo Político, that seeks to create awareness of forced migration as a worldwide problem and acknowledge the positive contributions of refugees to the societies in which they live. The exiles interviewed in this project were selected based on the ranking of the 50 countries that most reject refugees in Ibero-America according to ACNUR, and the countries that they chose to save their lives: Syria, Afghanistan, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Ukraine, Congo, Cuba, Germany, France, the United States, Argentina, Italy and Venezuela.
Click here to visit Sin Maletas (content in Spanish).
Colombian television channel Canal Capital created “Relatos del Exilio”, an eleven-episode series that tells the stories of Colombians who were forced to change their lives when fleeing a conflict or individual persecution in the country. This is a journalistic video project that features the direct testimonies of ten citizens now scattered across the world, from Sweden to Ecuador.
Click here to visit the Relatos del Exilio website (content in Spanish).
Adopting Britain: 70 Years of Migration
Southbank Centre, London
“In this exhibition we explore ways in which, in the midst of Islamophobia and hostility towards immigration, people have reached out to communities that are stitched into the fabric of our country.
We highlight stories from British recruitment campaigns in the Caribbean in the 1950s to Indian sub-continent and Eastern European migration, and the contribution made to the British economic and social landscape. And we also explore our moral and legal obligation to protect individuals, especially children, who flee their countries in order to seek sanctuary in Britain.”
“Illegal” — the label used by many to describe immigrants who lack official documents — is more and more frequently being swapped out for terms like “undocumented” or “unauthorized.” In April 2013, the Associated Press pledged to purge “illegal” in its style book, reserving the term only as a descriptor for actions, not people. Of course, that is not the only controversial term in this debate over language and immigration. There are battles over the use of “amnesty” versus “a path to citizenship,” as well as over “anchor babies” versus “birthright.” (According to the 14th Amendment, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States.”)
These linguistic and framing fights continue as Congress prepares for another potential push on immigration reform, and as patterns of opinioncontinue to fluctuate. The Pew Research Centerprovides perspective on certain patterns in press coverage. For example, the “use of ‘illegal alien,’ a term considered insensitive by many, reached its low point in 2013, dropping to 5% of terms used. It had consistently been in double digits in the other periods studied, peaking at 21% in 2007.”
But how much impact does word choice really have on perceptions of immigrants and related policies? To assess this, researchers Jennifer Merolla of Claremont Graduate University and S. Karthick Ramakrishnan and Chris Haynes of the University of California-Riverside examine two data sources — a sample of news content, and a survey of citizen attitudes — and analyze two different dimensions offraming strategy: “policy frames as trying to move public opinion along the dimension of relative rights (i.e., what these persons are entitled to), andimmigrant frames as seeking to move opinion primarily along the dimension of autonomous rights (i.e., trying to change public perception of who they fundamentally are).”
Their study, “‘Illegal,’ ‘Undocumented,’ ‘Unauthorized’: Equivalency Frames, Issue Frames and Public Opinion on Immigration,” published in Perspectives on Politics, finds that word choice has a different effect depending on the type of frame. The researchers use the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) as a platform for research; they systematically interchanged the words “illegal,” “undocumented,” “unauthorized” in questions on immigrant rights and asked respondents how they felt toward immigrants. They also analyzed articles “in mainstream and conservative daily newspapers in New York and Washington, D.C. (the New York Times and Washington Post on the mainstream side, and the New York Post and Washington Times on the conservative side), from 2007 through 2011.” Further, they examined content on three major cable news networks, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, over the same period.
The U.S. media have hindered effective policy making on immigration for decades, and their impact has been increasing in recent years as a result of an ongoing evolution in the media industry. Deeply ingrained practices in American journalism have produced a narrative that conditions the public to associate immigration with illegality, crisis, controversy and government failure. Meanwhile, new voices of advocacy on the media landscape have succeeded in mobilizing segments of the public in opposition to policy initiatives, sometimes by exaggerating the narrative of immigration told by traditional news organizations. The combined effect is to promote stalemate on an issue that is inherently difficult to resolve and that is likely to resurface on the public agenda when a new administration and a new Congress take office in January 2009.
These findings emerge from an examination of how the media have covered immigration going back to 1980 with a special focus on the extended policy debates in 2006 and 2007, which collapsed without producing any significant legislation. Supporters of radically different positions in those debates agree that the current immigration system is broken; one need not favor any particular outcome to conclude that stalemate is a mark of failure in the policy process. Many actors in Washington and beyond played a role in that outcome, and the intent here is not to argue that the media were the decisive players or to rank their influence relative to others. The objective is to understand how the media conditioned public opinion and the policy landscape, and the results show that the media—both traditional journalism and new forms of expression—need to be considered among the factors that contribute to polarization and distrust.
To read the entire study, please access the pdf here.
Tackling Joblessness and Stunted Progression in the European Union
This is the second panel from the day-long conference, “Better Work for Immigrants: Tackling Joblessness and Stunted Progression in the European Union,” held in Brussels and organized by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Europe in collaboration with the International Labour Office (ILO) and the European Commission. The event concludes an MPI-ILO research project, funded by the European Commission, that examines employment prospects of foreign-born workers and the effectiveness of integration and workforce development policies in helping foreign-born workers overcome barriers and move up into middle-skilled positions in six case study countries: the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. [From the Migration Policy Institute]
“Give me your tired, your poor; Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . The enormous disparity between the eloquent promise of the Statue of Liberty and the ongoing attacks against immigrants is enormous. Immigration to the United States varies broadly—who comes, why, from where, and when is emphasized in posters that speak to ongoing efforts to make immigrants’ reality closer to Emma Lazarus’s aspiration. Yet from the Irish and Chinese in the nineteenth century to the Mexicans and Middle Easterners of the twenty-first centuries, discrimination based on race, class, language, and culture has unfortunately been consistent. Whether the reason for migration is to escape war, seek asylum from persecution, or pursue better economic opportunities, leaving one’s family, friends, and home is never easy, and the posters in this exhibition present the human side of this wrenching experience.”
Venue: Mercado La Paloma
Location: 3655 South Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007
Exhibitions runs from May 9, 2015 to June 28, 2015
Inside Witness is a comic drawn and narrated by Stephen and Clio Reese Sady. The setting is a family detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, a place where migrant families are housed while awaiting approval for humanitarian relief claims. The comics combine an eyewitness perspective of a courtroom with the voices of the families. Many families, who predominantly come from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, continue to be haunted by the memories of trauma in their homelands.
The “heroes” of the comic are a group of volunteer lawyers who provide counsel as families wend through the asylum process. They work gathering stories ranging from experienced brutality and hardship–domestic abuse, threats of gang violence, political or ethnic conflict–to build their legal claims.
The real story isn’t in this place, it’s in the journey that the migrants trace in their imaginations: alternating between the present and past, assembling stories to justify their petition for relief, navigating the inside of a cage designed to offer “refuge.” The migrant figures don’t want to be trapped within the confines of the sketched frames, but the scenes they articulate thread together into a long testimony, and they begin writing their way outside the walls.