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Corporate Media More Worried About Avocado Toast Than Human Lives

by Naomi LaChance

NYT: Avocado Shortages and Price Spikes: How Trump’s Border Closing Would Hit U.S.

The New York Times (4/1/19) describes the impact that closing the southern border would have on “American manufacturers,” “grocery shoppers and farmers,” “business owners,” “border residents” and, finally—in the last two paragraphs of a 33-paragraph story—on “migrants.”

Trump’s border policies display zero regard for human rights, but for several news outlets, as Trump foments xenophobia, what’s at stake is brunch.

The New York Times (4/1/19) warned on Monday that the “beloved avocado” may soon be harder to come by in the US after President Donald Trump threatened in a tweet to close the Mexico border over migration. “The rise in the popularity of the avocado would not have been possible without trade with Mexico,” according to the Times.

CNN (4/2/19) reported, “The United States gets nearly 90 percent of its avocado imports from Mexico,” warning that “the US could run out of the trendy toast-topper in just three weeks.”

“If US/Mexico border closed, avocados would soon be toast, for starters,” CBS News (4/1/19) warned.

In a piece headlined “Avocado Shortages, Virgin Margaritas: Border Shutdown Would Hit American Palates,” Steve Barnard, president and chief executive of Mission Produce, told Reuters (4/1/19):

You couldn’t pick a worse time of year, because Mexico supplies virtually 100 percent of the avocados in the US right now. California is just starting and they have a very small crop, but they’re not relevant right now and won’t be for another month or so.

SFGate’s tweet (4/1/19), “Avocados could vanish in 3 weeks if U.S. closes Mexico border,” prompted a rash of responses:

The food supply is, of course, not an unimportant concern. The avocado metric is “a handy shorthand way of illustrating how an abstract issue like international trade actually affects people’s lives day by day,” William Reinsch of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told the Washington Post (4/2/19). But it’s a focus that allows journalists to tell the story of Trump’s border policies without addressing the human rights violations involved.

NYT photo of detainees housed under a bridge (photo: Tamir Kalifa)

New York Times image (3/29/19) of refugees detained under the El Paso bridge (photo: Tamir Kalifa).

One of the most glaring examples of Trump’s immigration cruelty is the detainment of hundreds of migrants in a pen surrounded by chain-link fence and razor wire under the Paso del Norte bridge in El Paso, Texas. Asylum seekers were forced to sleep on gravel with only Mylar sheets in the cold, and subjected to other sleep deprivation tactics. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection officials, demanding an investigation.

Andre Segura, the legal director for the ACLU of Texas, condemned the practice (Newsweek, 4/2/19):

Locking up families with small children outside behind barbed wire fencing and forcing them to sleep in near-freezing temperatures is shocking even for an administration that has consistently developed cruel and inhumane immigration policies.

“The real crisis we must confront is that of the Trump administration violating the rights of those seeking refuge in our country,” Segura added.

“The care of those in our custody is paramount,” Border Patrol’s Andrew Meehan said in a statement.

When the Times (3/31/19) reported that people had been transferred from under the bridge, they didn’t include the entire story. Debbie Nathan, reporter for The Appeal, contradicted their account:

The veteran border reporter followed up:

The Times’ deputy national editor, Kim Murphy, tweeted that the story had been updated because another part of the bridge was still being used to detain asylum seekers.

Vice: Border Patrol moved migrants from a pen under a bridge to overcrowded tents in a parking lot

Vice (4/2/19) reported that the border patrol relocated some 1,500 refugees to a parking lot with three tents.

The border patrol moved asylum seekers from under the bridge to other places. Some people have been released, but required to wear ankle monitors. Some people were moved to a parking lot that was even worse, a father from Honduras named Gustavo told Vice (4/2/19).

“The kids slept on top of our feet—we were standing up, because we didn’t fit,” Gustavo said. “You couldn’t see even one part of the floor. Just shoes and more shoes.”

His account offers a stark contrast to the frenzy over avocado prices.

“There were 1-year-olds,” he said. “They took away their blankets and they threw them in the garbage. They took away their hats. The kids trembled… It was so cold. There wasn’t anything to keep us warm.”

Featured image: Reuters depiction (4/1/19) of the kind of meal that would be threatened by an avocado shortage.

Naomi LaChance source FAIR

Posted in Blog, Featured Posts, Food, immigration., News, zMail, zSlider

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