Republicans frame immigration

In a keen study, George Lakoff unearths the agenda behind the language used in the heated inmmigration debate.

On May 15th, in an address from the Oval Office, President Bush presented his proposal for "comprehensive immigration reform."

The term "immigration reform" evokes an issue-defining conceptual frame -- The Immigration Problem Frame -- a frame that imposes a structure on the current situation, defines a set of "problems" with that situation, and circumscribes the possibility for "solutions."

"Reform," when used in politics, indicates there is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed -- take "medicare reform," "lobbying reform," "social security reform." The noun that's attached to reform -- "immigration" -- points to where the problem lies. Whatever noun is attached to "reform" becomes the locus of the problem and constrains what counts as a solution.

To illustrate, take "lobbying reform." In the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, "lobbying reform" was all the talk in the media and on Capitol Hill. The problem defined by this frame has to do with lobbyists. As a "lobbyist" problem, the solutions focused on Congressional rules regarding lobbyists. The debate centered around compensated meals, compensated trips, access by former Congressmen (who inevitably become lobbyists) to the floor of the Senate and House of representatives, lobbying disclosure, lobbyists' access to Congressional staff and the period of time between leaving the Congress and becoming a registered lobbyists.... Read the rest HERE.

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