Breaking the Echo Chamber on Immigration

Solutions Journalism

Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications

"You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it." 

When Hilary Clinton uttered the now-infamous phrase, "a basket of deplorables," she was demonstrating the "us versus them" rhetoric that pervades political discourse in the United States. Thanks in part to social media, people all across the political spectrum find themselves trapped in echo chambers without many chances to interact with others who hold different views. Both Democrats and Republicans say that the other's characterization of them is inaccurate, but few reach across the aisle to learn how to respect their differences. And there are even misunderstandings between city dwellers and rural residents—as indicated by Clinton, those in rural areas are conflated with being Trump supporters, ignorant, and racist by urban dwellers.

A common polarizing subject is that of immigration. The stories in this collection show a real effort to bridge the divide and have a conversation with someone with differing viewpoints on the subjects of illegal immigration, migrant workers' rights, the Muslim ban, and societal integration. In Illinois, Hari Sreenivasan (@hari) shows us how college students from two very different parts of the same state—Chicago and Eureka—can have respectful and fruitful conversations on immigration while still maintaining their own viewpoints. In Wisconsin, Zoe Sullivan (@zoesullnews) gives us a detailed account of how Voces de la Frontera, an immigrants’ rights organization based in Milwaukee, rallied together a wide diversity of people from in and outside of the city to support protections for local immigrants. In Montana, Jared Goyette (@JaredGoyette) introduces us to two people who met on opposing sides of a protest and have maintained a friendship to this day while advocating for migrants' rights. Lastly, for a little perspective, we go overseas to Austria with Anoush Darabi to learn about a program that uses conversation to combat prejudice between those in rural areas who are resistant to immigration and those who are immigrants.