Masters Thesis

Analysis of the discourse used by supporters and opponents of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (Dream Act)

The issue related to young undocumented students has captured the attention of scholars, politicians and general public. The Development, Relief, Education for Alien Minor Act (DREAM Act) has been proposed various times and has failed to become a law. Supporters of the bill argue that it will generate numerous benefits, motivate students to attain a higher education and will benefit the United States military. Opponents argue that the bill rewards illegal activity, is a backdoor amnesty, a cost to taxpayers and is unfair to natives. This research analyzes the discourse used by proponents and supporters of the bill. The discourse is critiqued using George Lakoff’s (2004) principles to frame a debate. The author analyzed 3 websites that favor the DREAM Act and 3 websites that oppose it. The supporting websites are United We Dream, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and National Council for La Raza and the opposing websites are NumbersUSA, Center of Immigration Studies, and Federation for American Immigration Reform. The supporting websites frame their issue around fairness, family unity, equality, and opportunity. Supporters refer to potential beneficiaries as DREAMers, youth, hardworking youth, and undocumented immigrant students. Opponents use the label “illegal aliens” and frame this issue as an economic disaster, amnesty, and opportunity to take jobs away from natives. The author recommends to proactively, rather than reactively, advocate, promote and strategize in order to get the bill passed in the future. Secondly, the label criminals, illegals and aliens should not be used because it dehumanizes them and the communities in which they live in. The third recommendation is to replace the negative labels with children and kids because these labels are more likely to gain the additional support needed to pass the bill.

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