The real migrant tragedy the media are missing

Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to draw attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration’s failed border policies. (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP)

Many traditional media outlets have largely ignored the crisis at the U.S. Southern border even as the crisis worsens.

Government data released this week show that a record 2 million people have crossed into this country illegally in the past fiscal year. That’s a huge story, or at least it should be.

But not until Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) sent 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard did many news organizations start to truly pay attention. Reporters traveled en masse to the ritzy Massachusetts island to cover the story while some accused the governor of kidnapping. Some of the migrants are suing DeSantis and other Florida officials in a class action lawsuit

But the outrage over the safety and well-being of those illegally entering this country is profoundly misplaced. For starters, the Biden administration for many months has been flying plane loads of migrants to places such as Westchester, N.Y., and Jacksonville, Fla., in the dead of the night.

And if the media are so concerned about the physical and mental health of those coming here illegally, why aren’t they outraged over the more than 750 migrants who have died attempting to cross the border in the past year? That’s more than two per day, according to The Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For context, 200 people perished trying to cross the border in 2021, or nearly four times fewer. 

“Smuggling organizations are abandoning migrants in remote and dangerous areas, leading to a rise in the number of rescues but also tragically a rise in the number of deaths,” Customs and Border Protection said in a statement when the DHS migrant death toll numbers were released. “The terrain along the border is extreme, the summer heat is severe, and the miles of desert migrants must hike after crossing the border in many areas are unforgiving.”

Last week, nine migrants drowned while attempting to cross the Rio Grande on the Texas border. And earlier in the summer, 53 migrants suffocated to death in the back of a truck while being smuggled near San Antonio.

And this is all happening because of an insecure border. It isn’t secure in part because the Biden administration ended the effective “Remain in Mexico” policy.

You can’t blame the migrants for thinking they’d be welcomed in the U.S. During a presidential debate in 2020, Biden called for migrants to “immediately surge the border,” and they apparently heard him loud and clear. It also hasn’t helped that at least one state has started offering illegal immigrants free health care.

The real story isn’t in Martha’s Vineyard but in China and Mexico and at the border because of fentanyl. 

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine, is manufactured in China. Some of it is then shipped to Mexico and brought across the U.S. border. The result? An average of nearly 300 Americans are dying per day from opioid overdoses driven by fentanyl, making it the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 49.

But the media are instead focused on 50 migrants who were flown to a Massachusetts island and eventually transported to a military base in Cape Cod. Talk about a disconnect. 

As for Biden being forced to answer for his immigration policies,

Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” didn’t ask even one immigration-related question during a recent long interview with the president.  

Meanwhile Vice President Kamala Harris, who was tasked with addressing the border crisis last year, was recently asked on “Meet the Press” about the surge of illegal crossings.

The border is secure,” she insisted, against all evidence. “There is no question that we have to do what the president and I asked Congress to do, the first request we made: Pass a bill to create a pathway to citizenship.”

So, the solution, per Harris, is to incentivize even more people to risk their lives to come here illegally?

Until there’s a change of leadership in Congress and the Oval Office, this crisis will likely only get worse. All the while a misguided media will continue to focus on everything but the true human tragedy happening every day at the border itself. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.

Tags Biden biden administration Biden immigration policy border crisis Border Patrol Border Patrol Border. migrants illegal immigration Joe Concha Kamala Harris Martha's Vineyard Mexico Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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