Letter to the editor: Migrant workers poorly depicted

I am disappointed at the Addison Independent’s decision to publish the Jan. 12 article “Local migrant worker cited for helping Mexicans cross border without papers” by Mike Donoghue, which struck me as dehumanizing in its portrayal of migrant workers from Mexico. It was certainly a step backward from the Independent’s December article and editorial about New Haven celebrating its migrant workers.

Given that immigration policy has significant impacts on individuals’ lives and our economy, as well as being highly polarized in politics, journalists have a responsibility to provide context and nuance in their reporting on such a complex issue, in the interest of a well-informed public. 

The piece cited only court records or filings without quoting (or indicating a response was sought) from any of the individuals involved. It did not cite any experts, research, or provide context other than a mention of a “recent uptick” in Border Patrol apprehensions. Further, the migrants in question were described primarily as “illegal immigrants,” “aliens,” or “Mexicans” that were “captured” as though animals or criminals (what happened to the principle of innocence until proven guilty?). Some of these may be legal terms with specific meanings under very complex U.S. immigration laws, but needlessly dehumanize undocumented people to a general audience.

There are many resources and best practices available on ethical immigration journalism, such as those of Borderless Magazine or the Ethical Journalism Network. I hope the Independent considers such guidelines in future articles about immigration.

HaQuyen Pham


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