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Abstract

This paper analyzes the National Issues Forums issue guides on immigration in order to understand how the NIF frames the issue deliberatively. Ideograph analysis is used to identify key terms in the immigration issue guides from 1986, 1994, 2003, and 2013 in order to uncover the cultural worldview surrounding immigration. The two key contrasting terms identified are a “nation of immigrants” and “illegal immigrants,” and the strong contradiction between these terms is offered as an explanation for the instability surrounding immigration in the public discourse. Since the choice work conceptual frame utilizes multiple competing ideographs to discuss immigration, a productive tension is maintained, allowing for a nonpartisan deliberative framework that encourages public dialogue and limits polarization.

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