Political Communication, Illegal Immigration

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28 November 2012

There are many controversial issues related to political communication in the world today. In my opinion one of the most important issues is illegal immigration. Every year thousands of illegal immigrants sneak into the United States and take advantage of our government. Unfortunately, the under enforcement of U.S. immigration laws is a crisis, and several states are taking it upon themselves to enforce their own immigration laws. Illegal immigration has contributed to many problems including public policies, economic and labor markets, neoclassical models, trade laboralization, poverty, over population, and many more. The media evokes social debate over borders, boundaries, and citizens. The usage of politicians and the medias word choices can paint different pictures for many people.

A good example of immigration issues in political communication is in the 1930s when the federal government targeted to export the Mexican immigrants. The purpose of focusing on one population wasn’t to deport the Mexicans, but to create a fear produced by the media. The goal was to scare many of the illegal immigrants out of the district. The media gave a lot of attention to the issue, which resulted in thousands of Mexicans moving. Many of the newspapers, even local Spanish newspapers, focused on the issue providing information on transportation and Mexican government assistance. The rhetorical forces of the newspapers helped the government achieve their goal of reducing the illegal Mexican population without police force. “Rhetoric shifts borders, changing what they mean publicly, influencing public policy, altering the ways borders affect people, and circumscribing political responses”. The public understands immigration through the medias rhetorical force.

“Mediated representations, then, can be powerful rhetorical forces. Regardless of whether a particular account offers a positive, negative, or neutral interpretation of immigration, it often rests, at least in a latent sense, on underlying racial assumptions”. From 1790 to 1952 race and immigration have gone hand in hand to gain U.S. citizenship. In this time period immigrates were required to be white. These laws were designed to compliment racial fitness for the country. This factor plays into the Mexican immigration movement of the 1930s because of the public’s responses.

Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas announced that he was an “undocumented person”. This announcement gave recognition to the millions of undocumented immigrants that are part of U.S. society. The media took this story and ran with it. “The Vargas story is a telling example of the media coverage of the immigration debate in the United States in recent years- inaccurate, incomplete, and insufficient. Vargas himself wrote several months later that after interviewing journalists, politicians, policy experts, and media analysts, there was an ‘undeniable’ consensus that the media framing around illegal immigration was ‘stuck in a simplistic, us-versus- them, black-or-white, conflict driven narrative, often featuring the same voices making familiar arguments”. Vargas recognized himself as an undocumented immigrant instead of an illegal immigrant for a reason. The term “undocumented” is used to be politically correct. The media uses the term “illegal”, and many people think they are racists and biased for using this term. Immigrants claim that the use of the term “illegal” prevents the discussion of immigration reform, and rallies hate groups who are against undocumented immigrates. The media has control over the language used to identify or describe something. Words are very powerful and can sway people into thinking a certain way. I do agree that the media blew the Vargas situation out of proportion, but no matter what language is used people are going to have their personal opinions on immigration. The media was not the only one using the term “illegal”, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, and...
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