Media Reaction: Illegal Immigration

A mixed presentation containing both positive concepts along with negative views.

Media Reaction: Illegal Immigration

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Illegal immigration is a controversial topic in the US. Despite the fact that immigration has been a cornerstone in the construction of the American identity and culture, immigration is often viewed in a pejorative manner. The media portrayal of illegal immigration has been a mixed presentation containing both positive concepts along with negative views. One of the most controversial points of illegal immigration has been focused on deporting illegal immigrants who arrived in the US as children.

Often illegal immigrants come to the US as families and the young children in these families grow up in the US only to be deported as adults. Many of these immigrants have jobs, families, and most do not even speak their language of origin. This problem has led to the expansion of policies which defer deportation in these cases providing the individual in question meets specific criteria. This criteria includes:

1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety (DHS, 2014).

The controversy surrounding this policy has prompted larger reforms to the immigration system. Politically, both Democrats and Republicans tend to agree that changes in immigration are necessary. The argument with immigration is really centered on the types of changes and the focus of immigration policies. Republicans tend to take a firmer approach to immigration while democrats tend to take a more lenient approach. The polarization of belief concerning what to do with immigration reform is often the centerpiece of the immigration debate and this presentation overlooks many of the complexities surrounding immigration. A recent article by ABC News reflects the complexity of immigration.

Legally, the president has wide authority to act administratively on immigration,” said Cornell University law professor and immigration expert Stephen Yale-Loehr. “The federal courts have often noted that the president has broad executive authority to shape the enforcement and implementation of immigration laws, including exercising prosecutorial discretion to defer deportations and streamline certain adjudications (DWYER, 2014).

However, immigration falls under mostly congressional authority and this makes changes in immigration from the Executive Branch difficult. This fact is often never discussed in other media outlets. News companies such as Fox and CNBC often concentrate their stories on the extremes of immigration action such as deportation (Housley, 2010) (Spagat, 2010). In reality, the issue is steeped in legalities and changes in policies which can be time consuming and difficult.

As a result of the media concentrating its efforts on the extreme views pertaining to immigration, the public’s perception and understanding is often muddled. For example, groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) are started in response to illegal immigration because they believe that illegal immigration is creating massive issues.

The illegal alien workers are mostly persons who sneaked into the country — nearly all Mexicans or Central Americans who enter from Mexico…The defenders of illegal aliens — ethnic advocacy groups, employer groups, and church-based groups — often assert that illegal aliens only take jobs unwanted by U.S. workers. This is patently false because they are working in jobs in which U.S. workers are also employed — whether in construction, agricultural harvesting or service professions (FAIR, 2013).

This is an extremely exaggerated view of illegal immigration. While illegal immigrants work and are taking jobs, is this situation really a problem. The number of illegal aliens working in the US is estimated to be 6 million or 5% of the population (Schaefer, 2012). The issue surrounding these illegal workers is the fact that most do not pay taxes and take jobs away from American workers. Research has shown that illegal and legal immigration has no significant impact on labor rates (Schaefer, 2012). The problem really centers on the fact that illegal immigration and undocumented workers is a political argument and this is sensationalized in the media. The reality of undocumented workers is that they often fulfill jobs that are unappealing to Americans such as migrant farm working or low paid unskilled labor (Schaefer, 2012). But as a result of the misunderstanding attached to this issue, most political parties take an oppositional stance to these workers.

Media sensationalism has an extremely negative impact on the public. As a result of believing many prejudices concerning illegal immigrants, until policies such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was enacted, people who were brought to the US as children and had lived in the US their entire lives were routinely deported having no concept of their country of origin or the language. The media has biased many people into believing that illegal immigration is a tremendous problem when there are many more complex and difficult problems surrounding the issue.

One of the most significant issues fueling the illegal immigration issues is the fact that companies and individuals continue to hire illegal workers and this hardly mentioned in the media or the fact that the demand for these workers promulgates the problem. In terms of media, there is a lapse in the investigation either by a bias towards business or bias towards the workers which allows these companies to circumvent the law. Companies could reduce the bias in media by becoming more involved and advocating for these workers rather than taking advantage of the political controversy. At the minimum, hiring a workforce that is legal, based on the skills and talents of workers not their ability to work cheap, would greatly increase the awareness of the need for these workers.

Fighting this media bias is also a function of education where people need to learn to think critically about issues such as illegal immigration and its impacts. Perhaps a combined effort from employers and education institutions is needed to show illegal immigration from a more objective perspective.


DHS. (2014). Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Retrieved from Department of Homeland Security:

DWYER, D. (2014, November 17). What We Know — And Don’t Know — About Obama’s Imminent Immigration Action . Retrieved from ABC News:

FAIR. (2013). Illegal Aliens Taking U.S. Jobs (2013). Retrieved from FAIR:

Housley, A. (2010, April 23). SB 1070….Not Your Average Bill. Retrieved from Fox News:

Schaefer, R. T. (2012). Racial and Ethnic Groups, Thirteenth edition. New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Spagat, E. (2010). Other border states shun Arizona’s immigration law. Retrieved from MSNBC.


Vincent Triola. Thu, Jan 21, 2021. Media Reaction: Illegal Immigration Retrieved from