Topic Analysis: December 2013 and Immigration Policy

2013 December Topic
Resolved: Immigration reform should include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

“About 9 out of 10 Americans have seen their incomes rise because of immigration…If that’s the case, and if it’s also true that a majority of Americans support immigration reform, why is it that legislation such as the bipartisan immigration bill recently passed by the Senate has little chance getting through Congress?”

Professor Tino Cuéllar, MA ’96, PhD ’01, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, discusses the larger political context surrounding immigration policy and gives us some good background information on immigration. What I love about this video is that Professor Cuéllar outlines a lot of possible debate impacts for immigration and immigration policy changes. He not only gives statistical information, but he tells the story of immigration as a “mass public concern.” How you discuss this topic is as important as what you say about it. I encourage you to watch the video at Forming a New Immigration System.

To understand how “how” you talk about an issue affecting perception, the communication theory of FRAMING is relevant.

(read more at FRAMING THEORY by Dennis Chong and James N. Druckman, Northwestern University)

The major premise of framing theory is that an issue can be viewed from a variety of perspectives and be construed as having implications for multiple values or considerations. Framing refers to the process by which people develop a particular conceptualization of an issue or reorient their thinking about an issue.

Pay close attention to how the Professor tells us the story of immigration. He refers to the ratio of the US’s working population to retired population in comparison to other developed economies. He even calls it a “superpower” to integrate immigrants into our society. This language and presentation shifts the focus of the immigration debate dramatically. He discusses novel impacts you don’t hear about often, such as the effect of immigration on innovation and patenting.

Most strikingly, Professor Cuéllar tells us about the alternate to citizenship, without outright comparing the policies of deportation and a path to citizenship. He states it would take $200 billion dollars to remove all of the undocumented immigrants from the US. This builds into a model I like called Pro World vs. Con World that is effective in the Summary and Final Focus speeches.

This video not only presents solid evidence for the topic, but it also illustrates the power of presentation and strategic analysis to put the debate on your terms and not rely on political spin.

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