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Jul 12, 2023

"What one photo from the border tells us about the evolving migrant crisis," The Washington Post reveals. "The U.S. immigration crisis through the eyes of a border town mayor," reports Boston's NPR station. "Everyone can now agree – the US has a border crisis," proclaims CNN.

There's a seemingly endless stream of warnings in news media that the US is being met with a "crisis" at the US-Mexico border. This crisis, according to the press—whether it’s called a "border crisis," "migrant crisis," "immigration crisis," or some variant thereof—is the movement of people away from countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere, toward the United States. This phenomenon will supposedly distort, strain, and burden the US labor market, social services, housing, and economy in general.

But, contrary to media framings, the movement of people isn't per se a "crisis." Nothing is inherently harmful about the movement of human beings from one place to another. The "crisis," instead, is the militarized and inhumane response to the movement of surplus and unwanted populations; it's US policy toward the people, especially from the Global South, who seek refuge here. It's the history of imperialist violence, the existence and enforcement of the border, and the deflection of responsibility away from the US, and onto the dehumanized and demonized asylum seekers.

On this episode, part one of a three-part episode on immigration, we explore media's World War Z-conjuring "border crisis" narrative, looking at how it obscures the US’s role in creating the conditions so many people have no choice but to flee; how it reinforces false notions about immigrants and asylum seekers; and how it retcons the wealthiest, most powerful country in world history into an innocent victim, too fragile to support the people in dire need of escaping the wanton violence that very country helped unleash.

Our guest is Boston University assistant professor Dr. Heba Gowayed.