The Image America Shouldn’t Need

There is a common belief that immigration reporting humanizes immigrants or inspires empathy. But I’m beginning to wonder if we’re simply a country desensitized to these horrors, incapable of seeing these “others” as human. My perspective, as an immigration reporter, is that if you haven’t been moved by now by the many reports of abuses, injustices, in-custody deaths, and bodies that have turned up in the borderlands, then you cannot be moved. The argument that people need to see actual dead brown and black bodies to understand injustice against people of color betrays a gruesome prejudice—and our country’s history shows that these sorts of images are, in any case, unlikely to mobilize action.

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