The president continually portrays migrants and migration – including the families traveling here as part of the migrant caravan – as a threat to the United States. Reporters, analysts, and even advocates may be unwittingly reinforcing this framing – and undermining humane treatment for all people. Here’s how you should talk about the migrant caravan to avoid reinforcing this harmful framing:
1. Migrants are people who move – and they have human rights.
Always use inclusive language that doesn’t “other” migrants and that emphasizes our shared humanity and rights. Most of us move from where we were born; movement is a common part of the human experience.
2. Avoid water metaphors – people do not constitute a flood, flow, or wave.
The media commonly uses water metaphors to describe migrants and migrations, but this language is corrosive. Floods and tidal waves are mortal dangers – hard to contain – and using these terms to describe migrants helps reinforce the migration threat narrative. Migrants are people seeking a better life for themselves and their families – not flows of water.