The New York Daily News recently reported that City Council is eyeing a bill that would protect some immigrant inmates from deportation. Under the current system, all undocumented immigrant inmates may face detention or deportation – even if the individuals have not been charged with a crime. According to the New York Times, City Council found that “while about 22 percent of the detainers were placed on inmates with felony records, more than half involved inmates with no prior convictions.” This is a relevant and useful statistic. While the Daily News article was clear and generally informative, I took issue with several aspects of how it was written. First, the language of the lede appeared biased. Introducing the bill as one that would “[make] it more difficult for the feds to nab and deport immigrants from Rikers Island” is hardly neutral, as it fails to note that some of the immigrants have no criminal background. Additionally, the quotes could have benefited from more context – particularly those of Rafael Samanez of Vamos Unidos, who spoke about immigrants being afraid to go to the police due to ICE’s presence at Rikers Island.

The Wall Street Journal‘s coverage was noticeably more comprehensive. Like the Times, WSJ referred to City Council’s own findings regarding the number of inmates detained who had misdemeanors on their record. WSJ goes a step further, placing the bill in a national context by contrasting it with federal program Secure Communities. The article clearly paraphrased some of the arguments supporting the measure. Unlike the other story, it did not rely solely on quotes to represent that side of the debate. My only criticism of the WSJ article is that it did not include any quotes from a council member who opposed the measure.

—Marianna Nash

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