It’s been a couple of years now since framing became all the rage with the Democrats and George Lakoff with it. I’ve gone back-and-forth with it and at times, sometimes thinking it to be kind of hokey. But with Lakoff’s latest on immigration he nails this whole debate in a way that nobody has done so far (except Thom Hartmann), The Framing of Immigration. The framing debate, in this article, comes down to what the words that are used in this debate – by us, friends, family, media, etc.. – do in our minds to point, not only to a problem, but to what solution is discussed as well. In this part he points out what is, in most cases, not even being discussed and if it is it’s on the edges:
Bush’s â€œcomprehensive solutionâ€ entirely concerns the immigrants, citizenship laws, and the border patrol. And, from the narrow problem identified by framing it as an â€œimmigration problem,â€ Bush’s solution is comprehensive. He has at least addressed everything that counts as a problem in the immigration frame.
But the real problem with the current situation runs broader and deeper. Consider the issue of Foreign Policy Reform, which focuses on two sub-issues:
– How has US foreign policy placed, or kept, in power oppressive governments which people are forced to flee?’
– What role have international trade agreements had in creating or exacerbating people’s urge to flee their homelands? If capital is going to freely cross borders, should people and labor be able to do so as well, going where globalization takes the jobs?
Such a framing of the problem would lead to a solution involving the Secretary of State, conversations with Mexico and other Central American countries, and a close examination of the promises of NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank to raise standards of living around the globe. It would inject into the globalization debate a concern for the migration and displacement of people, not simply globalization’s promise for profits. This is not addressed when the issue is defined as the â€œimmigration problem.â€ Bush’s â€œcomprehensive solutionâ€ does not address any of these concerns. The immigration problem, in this light, is actually a globalization problem.
What I think is significant from that excerpt and what is often lost in this debate is that this is just another consequence of the Globalization – of which NAFTA and CAFTA are a main cause. Last summer’s CAFTA vote went almost along party lines, with 15 D’s voting in favor (John Carter voted for it). Many of those same people that voted for CAFTA, John Carter being one of them, are now trying to use this immigration issue to thier advantage. That doesn’t seem right to me.
Lakoff does go on to talk specifically about the terms used, “illegal immigrant”, “illegal aliens”, “undocumented worker”, and “temporary worker”. He also brings in a new term, “economic refugee”, which does put a whole new frame around the issue.
The reason I bring all of this up is that when it comes to our congressman, John Carter, the only thing he ever talks about is the who, never the why. In his most recent editorial – which is pretty much a retread of this one from February – on this subject he says, “This is one of the most important issues facing our country right now, and I have been a strong advocate for an ‘enforcement first’ approach.”Â Well what’s second, third..? He doesn’t seem to mind that the President has repeatedly denied funding he and congress appropriated for more border partol agents. He doesn’t seem to mind that what the President proposed last week is completely opposite of what he’s for. And in response all he could muster was this weak, non-endorsement, endorsement. And like all of John Carter’s proposals there is no mention of what he would like to do about the 12 million immigrants that are already here.
What all this means is that John Carter is just using this issue to stir up support. As Mary Beth Harrell said it’s just more “fear-based and mean-spirited” policies from Rep. Carter. Rep. Carter is trying to have this immigration debate wihtout dealing with the reasons why these people are coming here. He’s being dishonest by leaving this out. These people are as Lakoff pointed out, economic refugees. Does anyone doubt the fact that if these people could make a living, at least as well as when they come here, they’d never come in the first place? That is the part that Rep. Carter doesn’t ever bring up. He also never talks about punishing the corporations and businesses that are exploiting these people once they get here. I’m sure the reason he doesn’t talk much about that aspect is because corporations and businesses wouldn’t like him talking about that.
To try and boil-down the debate about people looking for oppportunity, and coming to our country for to get that opportunity, as an issue where all you have to do is build a high and long enough wall and hire enough security guards to fix the problem is dishonest. Especially without talking about why those people are coming here. If the economic situation in the countries where these people are coming from improved that would slow this problem faster and cheaper than any fence or security guard can and John Carter never speaks to that.