As NewsBusters has previously documented, one of the big recurring problems in media coverage of the Trump administration prosecuting immigrants who cross the border illegally is the conflation of asylum seekers who follow the proper process and those who sneak across the border and then apply for asylum after they are caught.
As focus this week has turned to the court-imposed deadline for returning some children to their illegal immigrant parents, this same conflation problem has popped up again.
On Thursday night's All In, during a discussion of efforts to reunify families, MSNBC host Chris Hayes allowed a guest to claim that the Trump administration is breaking the law in rejecting asylum claims, making it sound as if asylum seekers had no other choice but to cross the border illegally the way some did as the guest recalled that they could not apply at the U.S. embassy in their home countries. Not mentioned is that they could go to ports of entry between Mexico and the U.S. to apply legally.
Hayes posed: "Over and above the separation issue, has the Trump administration broken U.S. law on asylum by the way they've handled this?"
Jonathan Ryan of Raices began his response:
Oh, without a doubt. It's against both domestic and international law to refuse to allow individuals to apply for asylum. Contrary to what many people have said on television, you cannot apply for asylum at the embassy in your home country. There's no law for that -- there's no process. And it would be a suicide mission to do that while you're still in a dangerous country.
He soon concluded: "There are people who are going to die as a result of these deportations -- it's just a fact."
And on Tuesday's Velshi and Ruhle show, as correspondent Jacob Soboroff updated viewers on the deadline for family reunification, co-host Ali Velshi suggested that it is somehow not illegal to cross the border illegally if one applies for asylum. Velshi: "Because they didn't commit a crime by seeking asylum in the United States. We keep reminding people that's not actually against the law."
He then claimed that there was a "misconception" that it is a "crime" to seek asylum: "We seem to have a misconception among some part of the American population that seeking asylum is a crime. It is an internationally protected right that America has signed on to."
Again, the MSNBC host made no distinction between asylum seekers who go to a port of entry and make their claims legally, as opposed to those who sneak across the desert and apply for asylum after they are apprehended -- which should raise a giant red flag about why they would go to so much trouble if they had a legitimate claim.