Media Missed the Real Story on Immigration

Member Group : Marc Scaringi

President Donald Trump is right – so much of the news reporting about the alleged “crisis” at our southern border is fake.

Just one example is the digitally manipulated picture the editors of Time magazine put on their recent cover.

The photo of that tiny, screaming 2-year-old Honduran girl became the face of opposition to Trump’s zero-tolerance border policy.

In the original photo, the girl was looking up at a U.S. Border Patrol agent as he searched her mother.

Time replaced the image of the agent with one of Trump ominously standing over and staring down at the girl. The original story that accompanied the photo claimed the girl was carried away screaming by U.S. Border Patrol agents. The message intended – that Trump, the most powerful man in the world, was terrifying this little girl by taking her from her mother.

But the Time magazine cover was manipulated and and the story accompanying it was incorrect.

In real life, the girl was crying not because of anything Trump had done, but because her mother had to set her down for the few moments it took to be searched after being caught illegally crossing the border.

Time later issued this correction: “The original version of this story misstated what happened to the girl in the photo after she was taken from the scene. The girl was not carried away screaming by U.S. Border Patrol agents; her mother picked her up and the two were taken away together.”

Another example is the June 18, 2018, Washington Post story about how the photographer, John Moore, got that picture. The Post reported Moore’s account – that families are “seeking asylum from whatever terror had driven them from home” and that Moore knew something the parents didn’t – “Their children would be seized and held from them by [the U.S.] government.”

Moore said plaintively, “It was about as pure a family exodus as he had seen in his career.” He asked the mother about their journey and recounted that, “She said they’d been on the road for a month, and they were from Honduras.

“I can only imagine what dangers she’d passed through, alone with the girl.” Moore intoned, “According to new federal policies, she would be taken from her mother.”

However, most of that account was false. Sandra Sanchez, the mother of this infant child, is seeking asylum.

But, she’s not fleeing “persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion,” which is what the Immigration and Nationality Act requires.

“Terror” had not driven her from home. She was not on a “family exodus;” she had abandoned her family, including her husband, who is gainfully-employed, and her three other minor children to seek a better life in the U.S.

She had done this once before in 2013 but was caught at our border and sent back home. Most notably, her infant daughter was not separated from her. Sanchez and her daughter are safely ensconced together in the South Texas Family Residential Center at U.S. taxpayer expense.

Most Americans when they hear the word “asylum” think of the emigre who flees the repressive government of his home country seeking refuge in a foreign country –like Albert Einstein fleeing religious persecution in Nazi Germany.

But that’s not Sanchez or the overwhelming majority of those alleged asylum-seekers who are trying to get into the U.S. through our southern border.

They’re not fleeing government persecution. Leaving your home country because of poverty or just wanting a better life, like Sanchez, are not grounds for asylum.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in the past five years, only 20 percent of asylum claims have been found to be meritorious after a hearing by immigration judges.

Yet the claims keep coming.

They’ve skyrocketed in part because of the legal loophole created by the Obama administration for those who claim domestic abuse or gang violence.

According to the United Nations, the number of new applications for asylum in the U.S. increased by 27 percent from 2016 to 2017. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just closed that loophole. But the damage has been done.

There’s now a backlog of over 311,000 cases. What should take only 45 days for an applicant to receive an interview can now take two to three years.

This is the story the media should be reporting instead of manufacturing “symbolism” in opposition to Trump’s border policy.

Marc A. Scaringi, an attorney, is a PennLive Opinion contributor whose work appears biweekly. He writes from Camp Hill.