More than one in five Americans speak a language other than English at home. From majority-minority populations in California to small but mighty Brazilian communities in Marlborough, Massachusetts, they make up part of 63.2 million American residents who think and speak and even work in a language other than English.
Over the past month MIREMS consultants dove into these communities via the newspapers and radio stations they use to communicate with each other and the world around them. The headlines that topped mainstream media stories found their voice in the immigrant communities they were talking about. The volatile navigation of immigration reform is having a big moment right now, and the country’s ethnic and multilingual media is certainly along for the ride.
Italian sources focused on President Trump and immigration. The Italian outlet America Oggi from Norwood, New Jersey says Trump’s “wedge politics” which are “pitting illegal aliens and Americans against each other,” keeps the Dreamers issue “controversial.” The source also had regular cover of Russia related issues, and Trumps state of the union address.
Smaller language groups wrote about their place within immigration reform. Chicago’s Polish Dziennik Zwiazkowy, with a circulation of 30,000, called for “The abolition of visas for Poles” as a “matter of honor and national pride.”
A column in a Korean outlet in Atlanta, The Korea Daily says that “a popular perception is that Trump's anti-immigration policy targets mainly Latinos - which is wrong.” The article says “the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been arresting Asian immigrants over criminal records as old as 20 years.” It continues saying “Asian rights advocate groups have been emphasizing that Asian immigrants must make a collective voice against discrimination, as the popular perception of Asian immigrants as a ‘silent group’ undermines their political power in the States.”
A Punjabi source in New York, The Daily Hamdard, joined the “us too” discussion, reporting that 40 percent of foreign born tech workers in Seattle, the home of Microsoft, are from India. Punjab Radio USA, broadcast out of San Jose, also commented on immigration reform noting that among the “6,90,000 undocumented immigrants, who came to the US as minors...are several thousand people of Indian descent.”
Vietnamese source Viet Bao from Los Angeles reported on the pockets of the labor force with large proportions of immigrants, namely construction. The article notes that while the “majority of immigrants originate from Latin America, Hawaii attracts mostly immigrants from Asia.” It warns of sweeping changes in immigration as right now “immigrant workers comprise over one quarter of the work force, the highest ever since the American Community Survey (ACS) first established its tracking records.”
Not to be forgotten, the Spanish media is robust: Sources in Florida and California have larger readerships that some of the country’s largest English publications. As headlines in the past month have been focused on immigration, unsurprisingly, the Spanish media has been highly critical of the current state of affairs. From editorials discussing the “cruel” treatment of Salvadorians in Miami’s El Nuevo Herald titled “In our opinion: The end of TPS demands a humanitarian solution,” to the Diario de Mexico in New York calling it “another hit” to an already troubled group, coverage of the Trump’s cancelling of the TPS was critical and empathetic. Articles offered advice and messages of solidarity.
As immigration remains on the forefront of national and local politics, these local multilingual, often immigrant run media will be paying close attention. The question is whether or not you should be listening to them, too.
Written by Caora McKenna