Immigration Narratives of “Origin” Countries

Hi everyone!

I’m back with some updates on the immigration narratives told by Mexican and Honduran newspapers. While both of these countries are classified as migrant “countries of origin,” the most important difference between the two is that Honduran migrants in the U.S. currently enjoy TPS (Temporary Protected Status) and Mexican migrants do not. To those of you who don’t know, TPS provides migrants with a work permit and prevents them from being detained based on immigration status. Most Honduran citizens who have continuously lived in the U.S. since January 1999 are eligible. This distinction between the two countries could affect the narratives being told to potential migrants back home.

This week, I analyzed 125 articles from a national Honduran newspaper titled “La Tribuna,” as well as 125 articles from a national Mexican newspaper known as “Excélsior.” Both had an extremely low number of opinion pieces, with only four opinions featured in the Honduran sample and three featured in the Mexican sample. In terms of encouraging or discouraging messages, 21.6% of the Honduran articles appeared encouraging to potential immigrants, and 16.8% of the Mexican articles appeared encouraging. Meanwhile, 47.2% of the Honduran articles were discouraging, and 54.4% of the Mexican articles were discouraging. Overall, it seems as though the immigration narratives told by Mexican newspapers are slightly more discouraging to potential migrants, probably because Mexico has felt pressure from the U.S. to crack down on illegal immigration. Mexico’s issue is two-pronged, because the country not only faces emigration by its own citizens, but also immigration by Central American migrants trying to cross Mexico’s southern border on their way to the United States. 

Another noteworthy difference between the newspapers is that the Honduran sample consisted of 28 policy-related articles (22.4%), and all of them covered U.S. immigration policy. Not once did I read an article about a Honduran immigration policy. Of these articles, half were discouraging, and they mostly detailed restrictive policies or Supreme Court decisions that ruled in favor of the Trump administration. The encouraging policy-related articles generally covered U.S. Democrats’ resistance to these policies, but they tended to center on pushes for immigrant-friendly policies rather than the actual existence of such laws. Alternatively, the Mexican sample had 15 policy-related articles (12%), and seven of these focused on Mexican immigration policies.

The last concept worth mentioning is that the crime-related articles in the Mexican newspaper illuminated a topic not covered by any of the crime-related articles in the New York Times. More specifically, 7 of the 11 “crime” pieces in Excélsior were about crimes committed AGAINST migrants. Instead of painting migrants as criminals, the newspaper generally displayed them as travelers who are often victimized and exploited. For example, one headline from the newspaper roughly translates as “Police break up kidnapping of migrants in Tamaulipas.” In this case, some Cuban migrants crossing through Mexico were surrounded by an armed group and forced into a van. This story was classified as discouraging to potential migrants because it describes the many dangers of a migrant’s journey.

As promised in my last post, here’s a quick picture to summarize the above findings. Lucky for you, I felt ambitious enough to construct a rough Venn Diagram.

Screen Shot 2019-08-15 at 12.21.40 PM


  1. meacheson says:

    Hi Madison!

    I think it is very interesting that the articles in La Tribuna only covered U.S. policy compared to the articles in Excélsior. Could this be partially due to the fact that Honduran migrants have temporary protected status, while Mexican migrants do not? I would have expected Honduras and Mexico to have similar results as they are both countries of origin, and it is interesting to see the many differences you have found. Do you think that the narratives from Honduras are more encouraging than Mexican narratives due to temporary protected status as well? I find your research fascinating and I am looking forward to hearing about your final results in the near future! Good luck!

    – Meghan