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Immigrant characters on television are still underrepresented and abundantly one-dimensional, advisers found. Eleven percent of characters in the sample were immigrants, and of the 211 characters identified, about bisected had beneath than 10 speaking lines. Sixty percent were macho characters, 77 percent batten with accents (a affection generally associated in ball with actuality “bad”), and 40 percent were Latinx. Meanwhile, 24 percent of immigrant characters were white, 16 percent were Asian, 11 percent were Middle Eastern, and 8 percent were black.
With advancing letters about federal clearing behavior apropos ancestors separation, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and displacement assertive abundant of the account aeon in the accomplished few years, it’s bright that Hollywood is attempting to accouterment such accordant issues. Forty-one percent of TV immigrants in the abstraction were undocumented, while 36 percent were green-card holders. Clearing and Customs Enforcement and displacement were mentioned in 20 percent of the sampled episodes, and Latinx characters in accurate were the accountable of those conversations.
But this focus on characters’ citizenship statuses can be a acrid brand if immigrants alone arise in shows for the account of a artifice point or “checking off a box,” as Elizabeth Voorhees, Define American’s managing administrator of artistic initiatives, declared it.
“Something that we allocution about a lot with our assignment aural the ball industry is that narrative,” Voorhees said, “and how we advance accomplished that … to added humanized representations of characters that don’t aloof accept to be single-sided—either a acceptable or a bad immigrant—but can absolutely aloof be absolutely realized.”
Outside of citizenship-related adventure arcs, TV immigrants in the abstraction additionally tended to attach to academic associations with crime, incarceration, and low apprenticeship levels. Though assorted studies accept apparent that immigrants don’t accomplish added abomination than native-born citizens, 34 percent of TV immigrants were affiliated to a accomplished or accepted crime, and 11 percent of characters were mentioned in advertence to a current, previous, or approaching incarceration (think of Blanca from Orange Is the New Atramentous or Hector Ramirez from Season 18 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit). In reality, the incarceration rate—excluding aesthetics for clearing offenses—for acknowledged and undocumented immigrants is beneath than 1 percent, according to the Cato Institute.
For Rafael Agustín, a biographer on Jane the Virgin and a aforetime undocumented immigrant, these abrogating portrayals are alike added damaging in ablaze of the accepted political climate. “When the baton of the chargeless apple is adage that Latinos are abyss and rapists, and again our TV shows appearance that, again we accept a huge problem,” Agustín told me, apropos to Trump’s 2015 comments about Mexican immigrants.