Illegal immigration is at an all-time low since the 1990s, Lauren Markham said.
By Orlando Torres
Part of being a journalist is being unbiased and laying out the truth for all viewers and readers, journalist and author Lauren Markham said Nov. 13 in a lecture sponsored by the Honors Academy in McAllister Fine Arts Center.
Markham, the author of the “The Faraway Brothers: Two Young Immigrants and the Making of an American Life,” gave a lecture on media narratives and cultural mythologies of immigrants and immigration to an audience of about a dozen people.
“Each year the Honors Academy chooses a book that is as relevant with the current news going on,” English Professor Lennie Irvin said during an introduction prior to the lecture.
“This was the book that was chosen for this year, and we reached out to Markham to see if she would be interested in coming down here to speak about it. Luckily she said yes,” Irvin said.
Markham asked for the group to chime in on the messages they get from statistics and photos shown on a projector.
The images were children being separated from their parents, people being arrested and the inside of overcrowded detention camps at the border.
People formed groups of two to three and discussed the immigration numbers and photos.
There’s a sense of no hope, one man said when responding to the images.
Children are being cast as criminals, another woman said.
Markham displayed photos with headlines that could appear to be damaging to the immigrants who enter the United States each year without legal permission.
“The subtle messages speak loudly when you think about it,” Markham said.
The headlines that were shown featured words that would describe a crisis such as “flooding,” “invading” and “waves of people.”
“It’s not just the right wing part of the media that is doing this,” Markham said. The left plays a part as well to some degree she said.
On the left wing media, people are being cast as hopeless and in need of saving.
“I think people need to be careful when doing this, because media narratives are using these people as an object of pity,” Markham said.
Many believe that immigration is at an all-time high. The country is actually at a record low, compared to the 1990s, she said.
Markham showed a chart from government records showing 334,873 illegal immigrants who entered the country between October 2011 and May 2019.
In the 1990s over 800,000 immigrants entered the United States illegally in that decade.
“Immigration is one of the most polarizing issues in our time,” Markham said. “Not just here, but all over the world.”
Global mythology on illegal immigrants has some believing that these people are rapists, criminals and killers.
Another view that some may have is that the migrating people are helpless creatures, she said.
“Many of us in this country believe that people are coming here because of how wonderful of a place this is and the opportunity that presents here,” Markham said. “Often though, people don’t want to leave. They are leaving to save their own lives.”
Three reasons people leave their home countries for a better life are poverty, separation for family and gangs or violence. A fourth reason that does not get brought up much is climate change, she said.
“Young people who make their way here are often in an incredible burden of debt back home,” she said. “They are just trying to build a life and get an education like you all.”