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The Framing of “the Framing of Immigration

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Angela Zhou

Camielyn West


4 October 2016

The Framing of “The Framing of Immigration”

        “The Framing of Immigration” is an article written by George Lakoff and Sam Ferguson, two professors from the University of California, Berkeley and fellows at the Rockridge Institute. Lakoff is a professor of cognitive science and linguistics and has written many works on politics. “The Framing of Immigration” was originally published at the Rockridge Institute and online by Cognitive Policy Works. The article goes in-depth in explaining why President Bush’s proposal for immigration reform uses linguistic framing to place “immigrants” into a tiny, little box of a problem that can be simply solved with his “comprehensible immigration reform”. Lakoff and Ferguson’s main claim is that by doing this, Bush closes off any chance for understanding the real, bigger world problem and addressing it correctly, which includes many aspects such as humanitarian issues, civil rights issues, and cheap labor issues. Although Lakoff and Ferguson effectively break down Bush’s proposal and give many logical reasons for why it is considered unfair “framing”, the very one-sided article lacks sufficient quantitative and qualitative evidence to support the author’s claim and instead depends solely on logical and emotional appeal.

        The authors often make statements about the general people and ideas on either side of the main claim without evidence as support to the reasons. This shows the lack of valid evidence for their reasons because the authors are choosing to believe that the readers will generally agree with their point-of-view and unquestionably believe in the validity of their unsupported opinions, namely the warrant of their article. As seen in the first half of the article, in which the authors straightforwardly outlay what they believe are all actual aspects of the “immigration problem”, this repeatedly occurs as the authors make assumptions like framing causes us to overlook the “basic human dignity” (Lakoff and Ferguson) of immigrants because they “are forced to live underground and in the shadows” (Lakoff and Ferguson). There are many reasons for why this one simple statement is full of just emotional appeal and no real valid evidence. The authors try to make those supporting Bush’s immigration reform feel bad for their opinions because they assume that supporters are bad and think about immigrants in an inhumane light. However, the authors never acknowledged the fact no one actually forces immigrants to live this way, they chose to live this way instead of going the legal route, which indeed may be longer and more difficult but is certainly not impossible. The authors’ point is not exactly wrong, it just lacks the evidence and support it needs to irrefutably convince those who would disagree with the main claim of the article. The authors also state in the article that the larger problem to what Bush considers the “immigration problem” has to do with humanitarian systems, civil rights, foreign policy, and cheap labor. By stating this, the authors basically claim that the United States as a whole is at fault because of our imperfect systems. However, there is no real evidence to back up the fact that America’s problems create immigration problems. One could simply say that it is not America’s job to help immigrants and refugees, but we do unequivocally welcome them into our country if they choose to legally come. This is because America is a country built on the foundations of free business and individual rights and opportunities, it is not a country made to help others come here.



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