GOP Memo Encourages Politicians To Use ‘Undocumented’
Are Republicans changing their tone on unauthorized immigration?
On Monday, a center-right Hispanic organization sent a memo to Republican members of Congress with a list of “dos and don’ts” on how to talk about immigration reform.
The memo clearly instructs lawmakers to use the term “undocumented” and avoid terms like “illegals,” “aliens,” and “anchor babies.” The memo was written by the Hispanic Leadership Network, of which Governor Jeb Bush is a co-chair.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of the eight senators backing a bipartisan new framework for immigration reform, said in an interview with PBS that the nation is undergoing a tone-shift on the issue, when asked about the use of the term “undocumented.”
“I think you’ll see a different tone all the way around,” Sen. Flake said. “I’m from ground zero in this issue in Arizona and you’ve seen a different tone in the last year or so and you’ll continue to see a different tone moving ahead across the entire country.”
It seems like that change might already be underway in the Republican party.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) used “undocumented” on Monday when he unveiled the bipartisan new plan, which includes a pathway to citizenship. And last week, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), also referred to those in the country without authorization as an “undocumented population” in his endorsement of Rubio’s plan.
Still, not everyone is using “undocumented.” Some members of the “Gang of Eight” that are backing the new framework, including Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), used the phrase “illegal immigrants” in the press conference on Monday.
Check out the entire text of the memo that was sent around to conservative lawmakers yesterday:
Suggested Messaging Dos and Don’ts of Immigration Reform
Conservatives have always embraced the American Dream. We celebrate the fact that we are a nation of immigrants who have come to our country in search of opportunity and a chance at a better future through hard work. Those are part of the guiding principles by which we should view immigration reform, not the negative tone and harsh rhetoric that has hurt conservatives in the past. Below are some suggested tonally sensitive messaging points when discussing immigration proposals.
When engaging in conversation or doing an interview on immigration reform:
Do acknowledge that “Our current immigration system is broken and we need to fix it”
Don’t begin with “We are against amnesty”
Note: Most everyone is against amnesty and this is interpreted as being against any reform.
When talking about a solution for the millions here without documentation who could qualify to get in line first with a temporary visa, then legal residence and finally citizenship:
Do use the phrase “earned legal status”
Don’t use the phrase “pathway to citizenship”
Note: This has a different meaning and can denote getting in front of the line to get citizenship – this is not true. Most Republicans and Democrats, along with 70% of Americans, support a fair system by which those who are undocumented can come forward, register with the government, pass a background check, pay a fine, learn English and get legal status first – that is earned legal status, not automatic citizenship.
When addressing securing our borders:
Do use the wording “enforcement of our borders includes more border patrol, technology, and building a fence where it makes sense”
Don’t use phrases like “send them all back”, “electric fence”, “build a wall along the entire border”
When talking about immigrants:
Do use “undocumented immigrant” when referring to those here without documentation
Don’t use the word “illegals” or “aliens”
Don’t use the term “anchor baby”
When addressing amnesty and earned legal status:
Do acknowledge that the true meaning of amnesty is to pardon without any penalty
Don’t label earned legal status as amnesty
Don’t characterize all Hispanics as undocumented and all undocumented as Hispanics
When broadly addressing reforms:
Do acknowledge that President Obama broke his promise and failed to propose any immigration reform for five years, while using this issue as a political wedge
Do talk about the issues you support like overhauling the bureaucratic visa system, creating a viable temporary worker program, a workable e-verify system, and border security
Don’t focus on amnesty as a tenet of immigration reform
Don’t use President Reagan’s immigration reform as an example applicable today
Note: That legislation was true amnesty; in addition, border security, fixing our visa system, and a temporary worker program were parts of the reform which were never implemented.
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