While the political right continues to lead attacks on immigrants using dehumanizing rhetoric with overt Latinophobic undertones, the truth about immigration is often buried. If they were to take recidivism rates into account, the numbers of “encountersaren’t what they seem. Migrants crossing the border more than once spiked while Title 42 was in place. This is a fact the news didn’t report, Republicans didn’t want you to know, and mainstream “journalists” ignored.

Legacy news media outlets routinely gloss over far too many aspects of immigration. You never hear about the green card backlog, the immigrants beholden to the companies they work for (or risk deportation), or that the government has been providing hundreds of millions of dollars to cities like New York to assist with housing migrants. However, they will always report about “the crisis at the border” and how migrants are “straining” the system using anti-immigrant language.

When the “surge” of migrants that major media reported would happen after Title 42 was lifted didn’t manifest, they quickly shifted gears to focus on migrants putting a strain on cities where they were illegally being bused to by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. As if creating a panic about a flood of migrants crossing the border wasn’t enough, they then used one of the oldest anti-immigrant dog whistles in U.S. history and turned to creating another panic suggesting migrants were taking something away from local residents. 

Image Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

While NBC News was one of the biggest promoters of the so-called surge, CBS News went on to allow people to spread lies on their evening news broadcast without being challenged. Since then, they’ve allowed New York City Mayor Eric Adams to complain about not receiving help from the federal government a day after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), announced an additional $77 million in grants to support border and interior communities receiving migrants through the Shelter and Services Program (SSP).

Much of the reporting from major media is oftentimes late. Last year I reported that the policies being implemented by Texas Gov. Abbott were originally created by former president Donald Trump’s administration and that people who were part of Trump’s team were advising both the Florida and Texas governors along with the Arizona governor. Yet NBC News reported on it a week ago and pretended like it was something new.

The truth is, both the media and the Biden administration have known Trump cronies have been advising Texas Gov. Abbott. They simply allowed it to go unchallenged. It wasn’t until asylum seekers died as a direct result of Gov. Abbott’s policies that either of them said or did anything and now want to feign outrage. It took months of pressure by me asking provocative questions and publishing an article demanding action followed by a letter written by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and signed by 87 House Democrats that the Department of Justice took action.

Now, we’re faced with far-right lies that aren’t being countered by the news that says millions of migrants crossed the border last year and millions more this year. It’s yet another racist dog whistle made popular by the Ku Klux Klan as there was hardly any pushback when the immigrants were from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Yet, at the same time, when talking about migrants from the Global South, suddenly, they were all “Mexicans” and the push to stop them began. And continues today – using the same century-old rhetoric.

Image courtesy of USA Facts

With more than 27% of migrants crossing the border multiple times, an accurate number of actual “encounters” with individuals is all but impossible to obtain. In addition, since migrant encounters on an individual basis don’t get carried over from year to year, that makes that number even more difficult to figure out. In other words, if you crossed the border on the last day of the fiscal year and tried again a week into the next fiscal year, it only gets counted as one encounter in each respective year, not two encounters collectively.

If there were 1.6 million encounters in 2021 and 27% of those were migrants who crossed multiple times, then no, there aren’t “millions of migrants” who crossed the border that year. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re lying and intentionally spreading Latinophobic and outright racist propaganda. 432,000 migrants crossed more than once in 2021. Of those, some crossed even more than that. It’s pretty safe to say that the actual number is just under a million or so.

The best way to counter extremist propaganda is with facts and reports like this. In that sense, the for-profit media ecosystem is failing U.S. society in favor of generating revenue using sensationalism and faux-outrages as if they’re holding anyone in power to account. They’re not and have no intention to. They’re corporate and maintaining the status quo comes with great personal benefit.

Just ask anyone who cashes their checks.

The Antagonist Magazine is a project made up of journalists, activists, and writers focused on amplifying the stories of marginalized communities. The goal is to educate the public by sharing narratives focused on independent voices. Born of an online community in 2019, our platform operates independently; free of corporate influence. Please consider supporting the work of dozens of writers from various communities.

Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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