The status of immigrants, especially “illegal aliens” is a controversial topic in the USA. Even the word “immigrants” can lead to an explosive discussion because people have become so divided on the issue. Immigrants and those perceived as immigrants, illegal or not have found themselves having to put up with being called names and worse.
Lourdes Medrano, a correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, has written an article titled “Russell Pearce, father of Arizona immigration law, now facing recall.” She was reporting from Phoenix, Arizona. The article was published on August 9, 2011.
Russell Pearce is an Arizona Senator facing a recall election due to a lawsuit by “Citizens for a Better Arizona.” The article discusses Senator Pearce’s politics on immigration and the groups that support or oppose him. Those giving opinions were clearly identified. Objective comments from a political scientist are included.
Senator Pearce isn’t quoted as directly name-calling immigrants but he has called the recall supporters rude names indicating that they are radicals and anarchists. When readers who support him read his words, they will feel free to call his supporters the same names or worse. Not only that they will feel free to call immigrants or people they perceive as immigrants bad, maybe even worse names. This makes life very difficult for people who look Hispanic or Latino.
The author said Pearce’s opponents have “similar words” for Pearce but his opponents aren’t quoted as calling him names; they only say Pearce “isn’t good for Arizona.” This inaccurate description might make opponents want to use stronger language to make their point If Pearce’s opponents become strident this will hurt the cause of the immigrants by polarizing the situation even more and making the debate less civil.
The situation is dangerous enough for immigrants already. Driving to work can be difficult because they can be stopped if the local police only suspect they don’t have legal residency documents. This can lead to even worse situations if the “suspect’ is taken to prison or even forced to go to Mexico. Whole families have been imprisoned without proper medications or clean cells. Some people who have never been to Mexico have been forced to go there.
Some might expect the piece to have a pro-immigration slant. But regardless of her background the article is objective except for the inaccurate “similar words” paragraph. It would be impossible to identify who wrote the article without the byline.
Her audience includes the readers of the print and online editions of The Christian Science Monitor who are usually regarded as educated and critical thinkers. I don’t agree or disagree with the article because there isn’t any particular perspective favored.
I think immigrants should be treated with respect. Let’s understand why they are coming here to work and fix the problems.
This article is an example of positive communication because facts are given without the author’s opinion. Stereotypes aren’t used by the author. Immigrants aren’t discussed as bad or good. Some people may become angry though because differing opinions aren’t demonized. Unfortunately now some people feel that is the appropriate way to react – with defensiveness or rudeness unless their own views are not repeated.
If the society were consistently listening or reading to this type of article there wouldn’t be such a tendency for knee-jerk over-reactions which popular media encourages.
Medrano, Lourdes. “Russell Pearce, father of Arizona immigration law, now facing recall.” The Christian Science Monitor. 9 Aug. 2011. Web. 17 Aug. 2011.