“I want to be clear to folks in this region thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States/Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come (…) The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border.” The latter was not the message of some conservative president like Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro, but that of progressive Vice President Kamala Harris in Guatemala.
This is a more sensible approach to a crisis that needs an immediate a clear response.
However, the attitude of the media is striking, as this is the same message for which they condemned former President Trump and various conservatives around the world for a long time.
Likewise, the strong message of the Vice President of the United States to Guatemalans is the same message that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris herself opposed during the election campaign and in the first months of her term. Now they are embracing it and the media is ignoring it.
“Trump stirs fear of immigrants in Europe and prides himself on his tough ‘zero tolerance’ policy,” reads a 2018 headline from Univision, a media outlet that was highly critical of Trump repeatedly on the immigration issue.
How did Univision summarize Kamala Harris’ message? This way: “Kamala Harris sends a message from Guatemala to migrants who want to cross illegally to the US: ‘Do not come.”
They went from promoting fear of immigrants to being clear against illegal immigration. This was Univision’s metamorphosis regarding immigration policies.
The Washington Post was not far behind covering divergently the messages of Trump and Harris.
“Harris warns Guatemalans they will be turned back if they come to the U.S. border illegally,” the WaPo published after the vice president’s statements.
With Trump it was “just a little” harsher: “‘Our country is FULL!’: Trump’s declaration carries far-right echoes that go back to the Nazi era”. Apparently, the emblematic newspaper of the American capital is into hyperboles.
The New York Times was another media outlet that had a change of editorial line. “Trump Virtually Cuts Off Refugees as He Unleashes a Tirade on Immigrants,” reads one of the many critical headlines.
The Times opinion section also ran harsh pieces. “Trump’s Overhaul of Immigration Is Worse Than You Think” reads one article. “This administration has attacked every aspect of the immigration system — and it won’t be easy to undo” it explains.
With Harris, on the other hand, the historic New York newspaper was much more lenient: “In Guatemala, Harris Tells Undocumented to Stay Away From U.S. Border.”
The lead-in was also uncritical: “In her first foreign trip as vice president, Kamala Harris promoted economic development and anti-corruption efforts, trying to stem the northward flow of migrants.”
NBC News also called Trump xenophobic for his immigration policies: “Trump’s brand is his xenophobic immigration policy. That’s why he’ll go to any lengths to enact it.”
With Kamala Harris, like the other media outlets, NBC’s approach was opposite: “On her first foreign trip since taking office, the vice president announced task forces to address the corruption and human trafficking viewed as potential drivers of migration.”
Those who demonized Trump give biased coverage of Harris’ remarks in Guatemala
The mainstream media chose to describe Trump’s immigration policies as severe and harsh. Some journalists even went so far as to call the president a fascist, racist or xenophobe. Today they are silent when the Biden-Harris administration is doing exactly the same as his predecessor.
Once in office, President Joe Biden reversed several Trump administration immigration policies. This, along with rhetoric inviting migrants to come to the U.S., forged an open borders policy that generated a major border crisis.
The situation became complicated and the Biden-Harris administration had to act by reinstating several of the immigration policies implemented by Trump. However, mainstream media coverage was far from critical, as it was with Trump. CNN en Español, for example, forgot to remember lately that Trump’s immigration policies were controversial.
In the past, the media criticized Trump for the cages built during the Obama administration and for the harshness against migrants and for the anti-immigration rhetoric. All this already happened with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House, but with a much more docile coverage. The double standard is becoming a habit in the mainstream media.