On Immigration, One Must Read Beyond the Headlines

Views From The Bench

April 12, 2018

While skimming through social media, we came across a headline that read “ICE Agent Shoots Fleeing Suspect.” The headline was clearly intended to shock and anger those who read it. The article which followed the headline explained very clearly that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in question was part of a U.S. Marshal’s task force charged with apprehension of fugitive criminals. The suspect was a criminal with nine outstanding warrants for criminal violations of a number of laws. Not the least of these were multiple warrants for serious domestic abuse. In order to read the article, the observer needed to click through to a media website. It was quite apparent from the comments following the initial post that many on that social media outlet had not read the article, but expressed their opinions and outrage based on the headline alone.

This tactic of writing, “news” articles with duplicitous headlines has become commonplace in various news media, particularly when reporting on immigration matters under the current Administration. In 2016, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) information provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee showed that as of July 4, 2015, there were 925,193 illegal immigrants with final orders of deportation in the U.S., nearly 20 percent (or 179,040) of whom had at least one criminal conviction. Many of these were released and live in communities throughout the United States. Of those non-detained illegal immigrants, 172,135 have at least one criminal conviction to their name. When DHS began enforcing outstanding orders of deportation which languished unexecuted under prior administrations the news exploded with examples of those who were being deported. A group of attorneys and immigration activists have led the charge accusing the DHS with anti-immigrant bias. These attorneys, immigration activists and “journalists” have implied that enforcement of the immigration law is somehow anti-American.

A case in point is Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos. CNN and other media outlets widely reported the case in 2017 with headlines like “Deported Mother Face of Trump’s New Policy”; others touted the separation of family showing pictures of her two U.S.-born children. The articles when read showed that Garcia de Rayos had been convicted in 2008 of a felony relating to the theft of the identity of two individuals. She was convicted in a criminal court. Following her conviction, ICE agents took her into custody where she was given a hearing before an immigration judge. She was charged with illegal entry into the United States and with conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude following that illegal entry. After the hearing which ordered her deported, her attorney appealed the decision to higher courts. Garcia de Rayos remained in the United States during these appeals. When the appellate court ruled against her, ICE allowed her to remain under supervised conditions. Even Garcia de Rayos admitted in one interview that she knew that the time would come when she would be deported to her home country.

Garcia de Rayos was convicted of a felony relating to identity theft. This is not a

victimless crime. There are myriad ways that identity theft can and does impact the real holder of that identity. Failure to report the income she earned while working illegally could subject the holder of the real social security number to taxes and penalties for failure to report income on his or her tax return. If credit cards were opened, that can and does affect credit ratings. Mortgage requests by the real holder of the numbers can be denied due to actions by the person stealing their identity.

This is only one of dozens of examples of the duplicitous journalism that has characterized media commentary on immigration these days. It is fostered by the comments of individuals and others who form the Twitter-verse; Facebook; Instagram and other social media outlets who limit their reading to headlines. We must strive to educate ourselves beyond the headlines. From 1952 through 2008, a radio journalist and commentator broadcast on ABC radio. His name was Paul Harvey and his best known segment came to be known as the “The Rest of the Story.” Unfortunately today the media have no Paul Harvey. Each of us must be aware of the need to seek out the rest of the story for ourselves.

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