Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Will Women "Buy" Amnesty? - Leftist Immigration Messaging

Key Points:

- Immigration messaging is a key feature in the battle to sell amnesty to America.

- A recent professional memo outlines examples of messaging directed at obtaining women's support for amnesty.  

- By primarily focusing on values, rather than on amnesty, the values become a substitute for amnesty in the sales pitch.

- The process is manipulative and deceptive.

- The two companies that wrote the messaging memo are linked strongly to the political left.

- The organization for which the research was done is also linked to the political left.  

- The leftist penchant for moving debate to a set of values, removed from the realities of illegal immigration and its consequences, makes good immigration policy unlikely. 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Immigration messaging is a key feature in the battle to sell amnesty to America.

Messaging includes seeking words, phrases, and statements that will influence the middle - those who are undecided about amnesty - to support amnesty and other immigration policies.  

At the same time, the idea of "messaging" itself is not talked about much.

I recently came across an example of a professional effort at messaging pushing for amnesty.

This example, a memo, is specifically oriented towards women and how to influence "persuadable women voters,"  The memo, prepared by Lake Research Partners and ASOCommunications, can be found at:


It makes some fascinating reading.

The Lake/ASO memo outlines examples of messaging directed at obtaining women's support for amnesty.

The memo tells us, for instance:

"Our goal for this project has been to find language and frames that speak to women voters—that engage and persuade them on immigration..."

They believe they have found messaging elements that will influence women's perceptions of the amnesty issue.

One such element is to use a woman's voice:

"These messages were also delivered with a woman’s voice, which we found persuades women voters more than a male voice."

The approach includes appealing to the following ideals:

"Women have very positive responses to values of community, commitment, contribution to our culture, responsibility to others, and protecting families. Language about strengthening communities is powerful and shifts attitudes in a positive direction toward immigrants."

However, there is another side to this process of seeking widely supported values and then coding amnesty appeals in those terms.  

The messaging being used to sell amnesty to women is a careful evasion of anything that may not appeal to undecided women on this issue.

Amnesty is being sold at a step removed from debate about the facts of illegal immigration and the implications for our society of a large-scale amnesty.

What is being sold are the values themselves that appeal to undecided women.  

For example, as part of the memo's message #3 ("Equality and Opportunity"), the memo states:

"Americans are at our best when we help one another. Women especially know the importance of coming together and wouldn't be where we are today without the help and support of the women in our lives – [our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends]. As Americans, we honor and celebrate our unique commitment to protecting families, and giving equal opportunities and respect to women and girls, and many immigrants come here to share in this commitment." [emphasis in original]

The message ends with this euphemistic appeal to amnesty:

"That’s why we need an immigration process that reflects this commitment and provides freedom and opportunity to everyone, especially mothers, daughters and families." [emphasis in original]

The message has subtly transformed "amnesty" into "an immigration process" that represents commitment to a set of values that appeals to "persuadable" women. 

What is now being sold are the values rather than amnesty itself.  

The messaging is manipulative and deceptive.

It is manipulative because the messages carefully lead people to avoid any type of debate about illegal immigration by reframing amnesty as an expression of positive values and pushing the focus of attention onto the values rather than the facts of amnesty. 

It is manipulative because it pushes amnesty advocates to use the same tactic in public debate - thus quashing debate that tries to discuss issues outside of the values.

It is deceptive because the memo seeks to influence the public by using evasive and misleading euphemisms to garner support for amnesty.

For example, on page four of the memo, the authors present a list of phrases commonly used in the amnesty debate.  They also present what many people think when hearing the phrases and suggest substitutions to use.

When the phrase "Immigrants do pay taxes" is used by an amnesty advocate, for instance, the memo claims that many will think:

"I should assess source of your facts; issue not about values but what immigrants can do for us."

Notice the memo specifically asks amnesty advocates to avoid language that pulls the debate away from the values being promoted by the messaging memo.

The phrase below is suggested in place of the claim that immigrants pay taxes:

"New Americans realize the value of participating in our communities"

The claim that "Immigrants pay taxes" has now been turned into the above fuzzy and vague statement.

Any debate over the taxes issue has been sidestepped and pushed away.

In this same hazy statement, illegal aliens have been also been framed as "New Americans."  

This euphemism, which avoids any discussion of legal status or how illegal aliens came to enter the United States, subtly calls on us to see our laws as the problem and not the behavior of the illegal aliens themselves.  

Both ASOCommunications and Lake Research Partners are linked strongly to the political left.

ASOCommunications, one of the organizations responsible for the memo, is run by Anat Shenker-Osorio.  Her short bio at asocommunications.com lists a variety of her clients:

"Anat’s current and previous consulting clients include the Ford Foundation, America’s Voice, Opportunity Agenda, Ms Foundation, We Belong Together, the Roosevelt Institute, Congressional Progressive Caucus, Caring Across Generations and CoreAlign, to name a few. Her writing and research has appeared in The Altantic, Salon, Huffington Post, Colorlines and the Christian Science Monitor."

The political left, as seen in this list of clients, forms a significant part of her clientele.

The same is true of Lake Research Partners.  

Their webpage includes an "Outstanding Clients" page which has links to several client lists.  The lists outline a very impressive collection of clients - a tremendous number on the left.  On the "Issue Advocacy Groups" page, for instance, the National Council of La Raza, National Immigration Forum, America's Voice, and the National Immigration Law Center are listed.  These are leftist pro-amnesty groups.  

It should be no surprise, therefore, that this memo was created for an organization which also has strong ties to the political left.

That organization is the group called "We Belong Together."

Pramila Jayapal is a key figure in We Belong Together, serving as co-chair of the organization.  

She was also founder and executive director of the pro-amnesty leftist group OneAmerica until 2011.  

Some of her accomplishments at OneAmerica include:

"Under her leadership, OneAmerica has achieved significant policy change in Washington State, leading efforts to win numerous victories for immigrants including: a New Americans Executive Order signed by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, a comprehensive plan to address the needs of immigrant communities in Seattle, an ordinance preventing City of Seattle employees from inquiring about immigration status, and numerous resolutions at the city and county level upholding the human rights and dignity of immigrants and affirming the need for comprehensive immigration reform."

In 2012, Representative Adam Smith (D-Washington) honored her accomplishments.  This was her focus and work just following 9/11:

"In the days immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Pramila began the Hate Free Zone Campaign of Washington as an entirely volunteer-run organization to combat discrimination against immigrants, especially from communities of color--primarily Muslim, Arab American, East African and South Asian--and to work against stereotypes in a post 9/11 world. At first, the mission was to advocate for the rights of those who were likely to be victims of hate crimes."

In 2010, Ms. Jayapal and others were arrested for blocking a road in Seattle to promote amnesty.  See the links below for coverage of this incident.  The video is particularly interesting as it shows Ms. Jayapal being led away singing while oblivious to the chaos her group's actions created for those trapped in the traffic snarls resulting from their illegally blocking the intersection:

In a similar action just a few days ago, Ms. Jayapal was arrested again.

We Belong Together cites Ms. Jayapal in a press release about a protest for amnesty in Washington, D.C. on 9/12/13 in which 100 women, including Ms. Jayapal, were arrested:

“Each one of us here today understands what incredibly high stakes we are talking about—immigration reform is not just a piece of legislation but the ability for us to take care of our families,” said Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of We Belong Together: Women for Common-Sense Immigration Campaign. “Women contribute every day to our families, our economy and our country. Immigration reform is about being able to live, breathe free, and remember the values that brought us all here in the first place: democracy, freedom, and justice.”

Notice Ms. Jayapal's careful amnesty messaging.

The leftist penchant for moving public debate to a set of values removed from the realities of illegal immigration and its consequences makes good immigration policy unlikely.

Immigration is a very complex issue.  Illegal immigration forms part of this larger issue.  There are many angles to consider.

With all the left-wing think tanks, pro-amnesty organizations, and foundations pouring resources and money into the amnesty movement (along with the additional ones being heaped on the sizable resource pile by the cheap-labor business interests and groups pandering for political or other advantage), amnesty advocates can certainly engage the full range of immigration issues.  And they do - in certain contexts (although I would argue inadequately and in a wrong-headed fashion).

And yet we are confronted by a left-wing memo which suggests that the way to persuade undecided women is to sell a small set of values rather than amnesty itself.  

But, consequences of bad policy cannot be ignored.  Wishing them away will not make them go away and using euphemisms to push the real debate about real issues into the shadows only serves to fool the public, not enlighten it.

Policy built on a foundation of pro-amnesty wishful thinking will give us the pretense of having solved something now, but will lead to another situation down the road where we will be discussing how to legalize millions and millions more illegal aliens.  

Illegal immigration poses a considerable number of serious issues.  They need to be confronted openly and thoroughly.

The government must adequately enforce our reasonable immigration laws and demonstrate the political will to continue to do so before any talk of any exceptions.