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Immigration 'brownout' fuels media's trek to irrelevance

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- The last few weeks of wall-to-wall coverage of the immigration debate by newspapers, talk radio and TV news convinced me of three things:

-- The ignorance about immigrants in the East Coast media capitals of New York and Washington D.C. is widespread and profound;

-- The debate is crying out for more honesty, nuance and common sense, and less partisan cheerleading; and

-- Latinos, most notably Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, often have a deeper understanding of the immigration issue than non-Latinos.

Let's kick around that last one for a bit. And before you take offense, maybe you'd also like to argue that women don't have a better grasp than men of sexual harassment and other issues involved in the #MeToo movement. While we're at it, anyone want to suggest that African-Americans don't have special insight into the #BlackLivesMatter crusade?

Now that we've settled that, why do you suppose Latinos have such a firm grasp of the realities in the immigration debate? ?

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According to research by the Pew Hispanic Center, we're more likely to know -- and, in some cases, even be related to -- individuals who are undocumented or who have been deported. We know firsthand how hard immigrants work, and we have no illusions as to how grueling these jobs can be -- either because we've done them ourselves or we saw our parents do them. We also know that -- when it comes to racism, nativism and anti-Latino bigotry, both subtle and overt -- the struggle is real.

Which raises an obvious question: If the media really values "experts" as much as it claims, why aren't more Latino journalists, pundits and policymakers invited onto talk radio, TV shows or newspaper op-ed pages to discuss immigration?

I've lost count of how many roundtable discussions I've seen on television news programs where immigration is being discussed and there is not a single Latino at the table.

I get calls every week from frustrated Latino professionals who have noticed the same thing. They say much of the media is either blind or engaged in something more malicious: a "brownout."

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