The Immigration Language Wars

The first of four parts.

Public policy debates often feature clever terminology intended to frame the issue and thereby influence the way we think about it. We have negative framing with "death tax" instead of "estate tax" and "government takeover" instead of "national health insurance". And we have positive framing with "gaming" instead of "gambling" and "right to choose" instead of "abortion rights". If you change the name, you can change the frame, and that can change how the public responds.

The immigration debate has produced some important linguistic battles. The mother of all of them has been waged over the term "illegal immigrant".

Jeffrey Toobin Swears Off "Illegal Immigrant"

Jeffrey Toobin last month wrote an article in the New Yorker that called attention to the plight of illegal immigrants who anxiously await action from Washington that would pass judicial review and grant them legal status. "The point of my article was to show the human cost of the lengthy political standoff over immigration policy," he writes in a new essay, which was prompted by objections from readers that he shouldn't have used the term "illegal immigrant".

Disney and Illusion: The Great H-1B Visa Heist

The annals of corporate disregard for the well-being of workers should hold a place for a new, disenchanting story from the Magic Kingdom. A famed American institution, Disney Parks and Resorts has managed not only to lay off American tech workers so it can hire cheaper foreign workers, it has required the departing Americans to train their foreign replacements.

Facing Tougher Mexican Border Controls, Hondurans Seek New Routes to the U.S.

Despite a sharp rise in Mexico's deportations of Hondurans who seek to cross Mexico on their way to the United States, the illegal flow northward is continuing along new routes, according to an article in the Honduran newspaper La Prensa.

The article quotes a Honduran government official who said Mexico has deported 4,900 Hondurans this year, most of them between the ages of 11 and 29.