The Listening Post

Between ‘swarms’ and ‘security’: How media report on migration

A Listening Post special on migration and the media’s role in framing this era-defining story.

On The Listening Post this week: A special on migration and the media’s role in framing this era-defining story.

ICE watch: Turning the lens on US immigration agencies

Before US President Donald Trump took office, most media junkies in the United States would not have known that ICE stands for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. But the Trump administration’s hard line immigration policies have changed all that.

And with the US president’s ceaseless talking and tweeting about alleged threats from across the Mexican border, stories about ICE and its sister agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), are right up there on the mainstream media’s agenda.

But the role the media is playing in this particular narrative is going well beyond merely covering the story. 

The Listening Post‘s Flo Phillips reports from the US on some of the media collaborations that are turning the lens on the immigration authorities to track enforcement abuse.


Palika Makam – programme coordinator, WITNESS
Ryan Devereaux – immigration reporter, The Intercept
Muzaffar Chishti – director, Migration Policy Institute
Dara Lind – immigration reporter, Vox

On Our Radar

Barbara Serra talks to the journalist and filmmaker Matthew Cassel about his experience covering the migration story – including the coverage of Europe’s so-called migrant “crisis” and his latest series, The Missing. 

Border security TV: Crossing the line?

They are images seen on screen more and more often – border control officials searching for illegal goods, interrogating unwanted newcomers, deporting those deemed undesirable – all in the name of protecting the homeland.

And those pictures don’t just end up on newscasts; border security shows have become a sub-genre of reality TV. Producers say the programmes provide an insight into the essential work of customs and immigration agencies.

But in the post-9/11 climate, and in the context of a global refugee surge, the format smacks of tabloid TV at its worst – often exaggerating and sensationalising the threats posed by those crossing the border.


Harsha Walia – founder, No One Is Illegal and author, Undoing Border Imperialism
Nevin Thompson – Japan editor, Global Voices
Benjamin Doherty – immigration correspondent, Guardian Australia
Stewart Morris – executive producer, Border Force: America’s Gatekeepers