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We never seem to see the headline: ‘Native-born American arrested’


What you’ll read today

  • Spotlight: We never seem to see the headline: ‘Native-born American arrested’

  • Justice in America Episode 7: The new progressive prosecutors?

  • New York woman imprisoned for defending herself from abuser seeks clemency

  • ‘There’s an all-out manhunt’: A strike organizer speaks from prison

  • ACLU releases blueprints for reducing mass incarceration

  • New season of ‘Serial’ takes a systemic look, as does Kim Kardashian

  • Massachusetts DA candidates propose different ways to combat cash bail system

In the Spotlight

We never seem to see the headline: ‘Native-born American arrested’

Last week, almost half of Oregon’s 36 sheriffs “signed on to a letter supporting an effort to repeal the state’s 31-year-old sanctuary law, which bars local and state resources from being used to enforce federal immigration laws,” as reported by Willamette Week. “The letter encourages Oregonians to vote for Measure 105, which would repeal the law, in November.” It also invokes the name of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old Iowa woman who was allegedly killed by an undocumented man, “despite her family’s objection to using her death as a political talking point in debates on immigration policy.”  The letter states: “Mollie Tibbetts’ recent murder has refocused attention on the violence and heartbreak illegal-immigrant criminals can visit on Americans and their families.” Public support or lack thereof for undocumented immigrants can have policy ramifications. In 2014, voters in Oregon overwhelmingly rejected a referendum that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. [Katie Shepherd / Willamette Week]

Tibbetts, who was missing for weeks before her body was found, seemed destined for media attention: Missing person cases involving young, white, upper-middle-class women or girls have been shown to receive extensive and disproportionate media coverage. But, as noted by Vox, the story began to draw “particular attention … due to another development: The suspect in the killing is an undocumented immigrant.” Vox singles out Fox News for “emphasizing [Cristhian Bahena] Rivera’s immigrant status,” pointing out that at one point, the “top story on the site focused on Rivera’s immigration status — with the headline ‘Illegal immigrant arrested in murder of Mollie Tibbetts was local farmhand, say police.’” [German Lopez / Vox]

It isn’t wrong to slam Fox for its xenophobic fear-mongering, but Fox is certainly not the only culprit. The Washington Post, under the rubric “True Crime,” ran the headline “Man charged with killing Mollie Tibbetts is an undocumented immigrant, authorities say.” USA Today’s headline was “Undocumented immigrant charged with murder in killing of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.” NBC News was no better: “Mollie Tibbetts case: Undocumented immigrant charged with murder of missing Iowa student.” Nor was “Inside Edition.” Local TV stations across the country did the same. Studies show that neither legal nor illegal immigration has an effect on crime rates, as immigrants commit crime at lower rates than those born in the U.S. And a Pew study found that first-generation immigrants are considerably less likely to commit crime, while second-generation immigrants commit crime at rates closer to that of the general population. This trend shows these new Americans “ditching the approach of their better-behaved parents and moving closer to the American norm of more criminal activity,” writes German Lopez for Vox. “This was found to be the case a whole century ago, too — when the Dillingham Commission in 1911 concluded, No satisfactory evidence has yet been produced to show that immigration has resulted in an increase in crime disproportionate to the increase in adult population. Such comparable statistics of crime and population as it has been possible to obtain indicate that immigrants are less prone to commit crime than are native Americans.’” [German Lopez / Vox]

Recent research shows that mainstream media outlets in the U.S. portray immigrants the way that the Trump administration paints them: as males in detention facilities and in custody. That depiction informs attitudes toward those migrants. “Our analysis confirms that through their choice of images, these news magazines reinforce the narrative of a ‘Latino threat,’ portraying immigrants as criminals unable or unwilling to integrate into the U.S.,” write professors Emily Farris and Heather Silber Mohamed. “We found images of illegality and criminality at a rate far higher than actually occurs in the U.S.’s immigrant population. For instance, while less than a quarter of immigrants in the U.S. are unauthorized, 54 percent of the images we analyzed portrayed undocumented immigrants, including photographs of immigrants illegally crossing the border or in custody of immigration officials. Immigrants were frequently portrayed in detention facilities, implying criminality.”

Asian immigration increased steadily during this period while Mexican immigration declined, [but] the U.S.-Mexico border featured prominently in the images we reviewed.” And even though 49 percent of Latinx immigrants were women as of 2010, images of Latinx immigrants showed only 21.5 percent women. The repeated portrayal of women and children as migrants during the family separation crisis offered a rare respite from the normal media narrative. [Emily Farris and Heather Silber Mohamed / Washington Post]

But earlier this summer, facing fierce criticism over the cruelty of the now-reversed family separation policy, Trump held an event “highlighting the stories of Americans whose family members had been killed by undocumented immigrants,” reported NBC News. “The president blasted the news media … accusing them of ignoring the plight of ‘the American victims of illegal immigration,’ while the victims’ families, called Angel Families, stood behind him holding poster-sized photos of their deceased relative.” The president lamented, “You know you hear the other side, you never hear this side. You don’t know what’s going on. … No major networks send cameras to their homes or display the images of their incredible loved ones.” These families, the ones affected by violence committed by undocumented immigrants, he said, “these are the families the media ignores.” [Dartunorro Clark / NBC News]

Stories From The Appeal

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is considered one of the most progressive district attorneys
in the country. [
Vivien Killilea / Stringer / Getty Images]

Justice in America Episode 7: The New Progressive Prosecutors? After Tuesday’s primary victories for reform candidates, defining a progressive agenda for prosecutors is more pressing than ever. Rashad Robinson joins Josie and Clint. [Josie Duffy Rice and Clint Smith]

New York Woman Imprisoned for Defending Herself From Abuser Seeks Clemency. Jacqueline Smalls was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing a boyfriend whose ‘hands were his weapons.’ She now joins the ranks of criminalized survivors seeking clemency from Governor Cuomo. [Victoria Law]

‘There’s an All-Out Manhunt’: A Strike Organizer Speaks From Prison. An imprisoned organizer with Jailhouse Lawyers Speak said prison officials are trying to identify those leading the strike. [Raven Rakia]

Stories From Around the Country

ACLU releases ‘blueprints’ for reducing mass incarceration: Yesterday, the ACLU, along with the Urban Institute and the ACLU’s state affiliates, “published the first 25 of 51 ‘blueprints’ identifying the drivers of mass incarceration in each state, as well as what policy changes could cut their prison populations by 50 percent.” The drivers of mass incarceration vary by state, and the solutions must be state-focused, explains Udi Ofer, director of the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice. The report on Michigan, for example, notes that 74 percent of incarcerated people are serving long periods of time for violent offenses, often under the state’s especially tough “truth in sentencing” laws, which all but abolished parole. In Oklahoma, by contrast, drug offenses drive incarceration. New Jersey has been the leader in decarceration, but it also leads the country in racial disparities. “Part of the reason we released these blueprints is to avoid another New Jersey,” Ofer said. [C.J. Ciaramella / Reason]

New season of ‘Serial’ takes a systemic look, as does Kim Kardashian: The 2014 podcast that “launched 1,000 armchair murder detectives” with the mystery of whether one man was falsely convicted for killing his teenage ex-girlfriend, comes back with a broader scope later this month. The new season, unlike seasons past, will take on “the whole criminal justice system.” It is a portrayal of a year in the criminal courts of Cleveland. [Amanda Hess / New York Times] Meanwhile, reality TV star Kim Kardashian returned to the White House, now convinced that freeing Alice Johnson was not enough and that across-the-board change was necessary:

Massachusetts DA candidates propose different ways to combat cash bail system: In Massachusetts, poor defendants are still being held in custody on low bail, even after a sweeping criminal justice bill required judges to consider a person’s financial circumstances before setting bail. Cash bail has become a central issue in district attorney races in two counties, with candidates generally opposing the cash bail system while proposing widely disparate plans for reform. One candidate, former federal prosecutor Rachael Rollins, has listed offenses for which she would not request bail, or even prosecute. Shannon McAuliffe, a criminal defense attorney, would seek to eliminate all bail requests—even for violent crimes—instead opting for dangerousness hearings to determine whether defendants pose a threat to public safety. Linda Champion, a former prosecutor, opposes the repeal of cash bail because it could still lead to pretrial incarceration and might impede broader reform efforts. “The more practical solution is to stop prosecuting crimes of poverty,” she said. [Maria Cramer / Boston Globe]

Thanks for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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