Politics with Pavlinec: Sorting through Sensationalism – The Migrant Caravan

The migrant caravan is a clear focus of politicians, news media and political pundits regardless of their political leaning. Unfortunately, it is clear that segments of both sides of the political aisle are using the caravan to propagate whatever message they see fit.

Starting with the right, President Donald Trump claimed that there were “unknown middle easterners” in the caravan. He did not specify why that would be relevant, as your country of origin should not be primary in an assessment of your character. Trump left it up for interpretation for everyone else, likely not to stir positive gut-reaction responses of citizens towards the caravan. This does not help anyone and should be readily condemned. Additionally,  Tucker Carlson of Fox News had a conversation with Enrique Morones of Border Angels where he tilted the conversation to polarized sensationalism, rather than solving the issues. Presumably for soundbites and entertainment for the fans.

On the left, most popular media outlets (that lean left) crafted the story to fit their views. Stories about migrant children being tear gassed filled headlines. We should care about children, but blaming the Trump administration for improper uses of tear gas seems inappropriately pointed. Furthermore, CNN’s anchors argued that the caravan was only given attention by Trump to stir the base before the midterms. Why wouldn’t Trump talk about the caravan as much as possible? Immigration was the second highest concern of voters in 2018. There is certainly truth to their criticisms, most politicians regrettably act this way, because it is effective. However, this viewpoint should not cloud the judgement of objective journalism. It seems reasonable to use tear gas on those assaulting border agents and actively attempting to break the wall. Parents should not be anywhere close to conflict especially with their children at their side. According to CNN and The New York Times, border patrol acted inappropriately.

A balanced viewpoint, that I am sure most people share, is that we should allow immigrants into this country, regardless of country of origin. If they come here for economic freedom or to escape foreign tyranny, that would be logical to anyone. Completely open or tightly closed borders may seem to be the only sides of the coin, if we look to the media, but there is clearly a better way.

Migrants at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.     Photo courtesy of Mani Albrecht.

Allowing migrants to travel to border checkpoints and seek asylum should not be impeded in any way, and it is also clear that not all migrants are asylum seekers, now or in general. Right wing pundits, such as Ben Shapiro of Daily Wire, and left wing politicians such as Bernie Sanders seem to agree that case-by-case review of migrants is the best solution. It’s not a perfect solution because it requires more time and effort to conduct than the two extremes (open or closed borders), but in the long term this effort will prevent disruptions in culture and crime while opening opportunities to those who share American values and want to contribute to our great nation. Culture in the United States is malleable and should be, but the fundamentals of our country should be rigid. All too often on campus or on television I see people conflate moderate language to unrelated radical conclusions. For example, if someone wants to protect American culture its because they want to keep America white. Conversely, if someone wants to allow purposeful change and variety of people and culture they are painted as open border globalists who have no regard for American values.


This needs to stop.


If we view all people as trying to bring America to higher values, rather than only pursuing our own interests, then any conversation will not be fruitful. I personally believe (while not my own idea) it is due to the degradation of meaning in society, causing people to look for purpose through government action or in partisan conflicts. However, this is a conversation for another time.

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Chris Pavlinec is a junior studying Political Science with a Concentration in Politics, Philosophy and Law. He hails from New Jersey and spends his time reading economics, playing guitar and prepping for law school.

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