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NYT Invents a Bipartisan Anti-Immigrant Consensus

Contrary to the New York Times, the evidence of local Democrats morphing into Trumpists on the border is scant to nonexistent.

The post NYT Invents a Bipartisan Anti-Immigrant Consensus appeared first on FAIR.


According to the New York Times (1/4/24), the immigration situation has put President Joe Biden at odds with local Democratic leaders who want a tougher border policy. But the evidence of local Democrats morphing into Trumpists on the border is scant to nonexistent.

NYT: Biden Faces Pressure on Immigration, and Not Just From Republicans

The New York Times (1/4/24) reports that “President Biden is under growing pressure to curb record numbers of migrants…from Democratic mayors and governors.”

The so-called migrant crisis—the increase in refugees at the US southern border (, 6/2/23)—has been seized on by Republicans as a line of attack against Biden as he runs for reelection  (Gallup, 12/22/23; USA Today, 1/4/24), as well as a way to cause chaos in Democratic strongholds. This latter motive is exemplified by Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s program of shipping unsuspecting asylum-seekers to Democratic cities. (Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis similarly exploited migrants by tricking them into going to Massachusetts’ Martha’s Vineyard—, 8/31/23.)

In a front-page, above-the-fold piece headlined “Biden Faces Pressure on Immigration, and Not Just From Republicans,” Times reporters Michael Shear  and Miriam Jordan led by saying that Democratic mayors and governors were applying “growing pressure” on Biden “to curb record numbers of migrants crossing into the United States.”

The article concluded by saying that the administration’s willingness to speed up the deportation process “would be a huge departure from the positions taken by most Democrats” in the beginning of Biden’s term, but that these Democratic mayors and governors made it clear that the “dynamics have changed.”

The Times admitted that, “for the most part,” these Democrats “are not calling for the kind of severe border restrictions that Republicans are demanding.” Yet that is not how the Times framed this situation at the bookends of the article. In essence, the Times began and ended the article by saying that their reporting showed that Biden is under pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to take more anti-immigrant attitudes, both at the border and toward undocumented immigrants generally.

One problem: That isn’t what the Times sources say in the rest of the article.

Asking for help, not a wall

NBC: Denver’s mayor asks Biden administration for more work authorizations to get migrants off streets

The Times‘ first example of a Democratic politician who wants to “curb record numbers of migrants” is Denver Mayor Mike Johnston—who wants to make it easier for migrants to legally work (NBC, 12/7/23)

The first Democratic politician to be quoted was Mayor Mike Johnston of Denver, whose city has been struggling to house a growing number of incoming migrants (NPR, 12/14/23). He told NBC News (12/7/23) that his solution rested on expediting work authorizations, and was quoted in the Times story, “This is actually a solvable problem, if we had work authorization, federal dollars and a coordinated entry plan.”

The Times later quoted Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson—from his appearance on Face the Nation on CBS (12/31/23)—who stated that cities are simply unequipped to handle the situation. Rather than demand enhanced law enforcement against migrants, he demanded that cities receive more federal aid. He recently announced that he would meet with Illinois congressional leaders about securing such funding (WLS, 1/4/24).

Like Johnston in Denver, Johnson pointed his ire less at Biden and more at Abbott (CBS, 12/31/23). He recently said Abbott was “determined to continue to sow seeds of chaos” after a “private plane chartered by Texas officials” with migrants arrived outside the city (Chicago Tribune, 12/31/23). Meanwhile, Illinois’s Democatic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement (9/20/23) that he would

work with the Biden administration and the Department of Homeland Security to address the ongoing influx of asylum seekers with care, compassion and practicality as this crisis evolves.

Pritzker and Johnson are, indeed, clashing over funding to address the migrant issue (WBBM, 12/5/23), but they aren’t changing the overall Democratic position on immigration.

Finally, the article quoted Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, who did say the federal government should invest in “border security,” the kind of bland and unspecific comment most politicians make, but also for federal help for local governments to handle the issue. In fact, both Healey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, also a Democrat, hailed a federal injection of cash into the state to address the influx of migrants last summer (WGBH, 8/18/23).

Healey even said (WAMC, 1/3/24):

I will say, the good news here in Massachusetts is people are housed and, more importantly, people have work authorizations. I asked the Biden administration to get on the ground here a few weeks ago, they did, we processed over 2,000 people for work authorizations. That’s important, because we’ve got a lot of jobs, a lot of employers, a lot of industries looking to put people to work, and so, you know, that’s a good thing.

‘The borders should remain open’

The City: Council Slams Mayor for Scapegoating Migrants to Justify Budget Cuts

New York Mayor Eric Adams’ anti-immigrant politics are not popular with his constituents or other Democratic politicians in his city (The City, 12/11/23).

The one Democratic politician quoted by the paper with a genuine anti-immigrant stance is New York Mayor Eric Adams, who recently sued the bus companies who are transporting the migrants into the city (Office of the Mayor, 1/4/24). His top advisor called on the federal government to “close the borders” (New York Post, 10/1/23; Twitter, 10/1/23).

Yet even Adams’s own rhetoric doesn’t exactly live up to the “closed borders” framing of the Times. While Adams has openly discouraged migrants from coming to New York, despite it being one of the most international cities in the world, the mayor still stressed (Politico, 10/3/23): “We believe the borders should remain open; that’s the official position of the city.”

And Adams is hardly representative of typical Democratic local governance. A chorus of city council members and progressive leaders are blasting the mayor for exploiting the migrant issue to justify draconian cuts to education and other services, including the fire department  (WABC, 12/4/23; The City, 12/11/23). The city’s second-highest citywide elected official, Comptroller Brad Lander, countered the mayor in a statement (1/4/24): “Rather than shutting the door on new New Yorkers, our city, state and federal government must work together to keep the tradition of embracing immigration.” When Adams’ approval rating recently hit a historic low of 28% (WABC, 12/7/23), it became clear that his scapegoating of migrants was not widely embraced by the public.

‘Bipartisan demands for action’

AP: The mayors of five big cities seek a meeting with Biden about how to better manage arriving migrants

AP (11/1/23) c0rrectly frames Democratic complaints about Biden administration immigration policy as being about lack of resources—not about making common cause with xenophobic Republicans.

In short, the available evidence shows that Democratic leaders recognize the fact that immigration is a federal matter, and that Abbott’s human-trafficking program isn’t just a cruel stunt for the migrants involved, but also a drain on municipal resources in blue cities. In response, they want federal assistance.

There’s no mystery about this. The Associated Press (11/1/23) reported months ago that the “mayors of Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and New York” sought “federal help in managing the surge of migrants they say are arriving in their cities with little to no coordination, support or resources from his administration.”

That is a far, far different political position than Republicans’ official policy of xenophobia and closed borders (AP, 1/3/24; Reuters, 1/8/24). Yet that didn’t stop the Times story from asserting, in its second paragraph, that “a clear-cut ideological fight between Democrats and Republicans has become bipartisan demands for action”—falsely suggesting a meeting of the minds between Johnson, the progressive Chicago mayor and a reactionary like Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson.

The Times could have easily written a straightforward story, reporting that local Democratic leaders demand more federal help when it comes to immigrants. Instead, with sloppy reporting and perplexing misframing, featured prominently in a Saturday print edition in the Times, the paper paved the way for a dangerous anti-immigrant backlash.

ACTION ALERT: You can send a message to the New York Times at Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective. Feel free to leave a copy of your communication in the comments thread.

FEATURED IMAGE: New York Times photo of migrants in New York that accompanied its January 4, 2024, article.

The post NYT Invents a Bipartisan Anti-Immigrant Consensus appeared first on FAIR.

This content originally appeared on FAIR and was authored by Ari Paul.

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