Language Matters: An Update

Language matters.  As discussed in a prior post, the current administration has intentionally used terms that mischaracterize U.S. immigration law to help build its case for dramatic immigration reforms that run counter to our nation’s values, and that would damage our economy.

Unfortunately, the administration’s effectiveness in shaping the debate has been enhanced by the mainstream media’s parroting of its misleading terminology.

A case in point is the administration’s use of “chain migration” to refer to the legal system that allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to help their immediate, not extended, family members to immigrate, which the President is actively trying to gut.  His proposed reforms would prevent the reunification of immediate family members such as President Trump’s own German grandfather, who joined his sister who was already in the U.S.; his Scottish mother, who joined her sister here,  and his parents-in-law, brought here by Melania Trump.

More importantly, drastically reducing family based immigration will lead to a vast reduction in overall immigration to the U.S.   Family-based immigration has been a cornerstone of our history.  As the Cato Institute points out, family members work hard, progress, and contribute to the fabric of this country and to the vibrancy of our economy, whether they come with little or fluent English, and with scant formal education or a PhD.

It is critical that the debate around immigration be accurately informed and not tainted by facile and misleading catch phrases.

An effort to educate the media on how use of language such as “chain migration” fails to inform the debate, and instead, misleads, has yielded a victory.  The Associated Press’s 2018 AP Stylebook recently announced that in addition to other changes, it now discourages use of the term “chain migration” unless used in a direct quote.   A small step, but an important one.