Reframing newsletter

Reframing in the Real World

April 5, 2018

To help organizations apply the Building Well-Being Narrative, we’ve reviewed some techniques for Getting Started reframing fundamental external communications, Taking Practical Steps to Sustainable Implementation, and Leveraging Coalitions’ Influence to institutionalize reframing organization- and community-wide.

With Spring and new beginnings upon us, we thought it was an apt time to revisit the third topic (of four) in our Resolve to Reframe series—Reframing in the Real World.

Immigration Policy Reframed

Photo of people and signs at immigration rally

Photo: CHRIS KLEPONIS AFP/Getty Images

Immigration policy continues to dominate the headlines, though too often the terms of the debate are framed using language that stokes fear and division, making it harder to garner support for practical policy solutions that will foster our nation’s long-term civic, economic, and social well-being.

The just-released National Human Services Assembly (NHSA) “Creating Shared Prosperity with a Common-Sense Approach to Immigration Policy” talking points relied on the FrameWorks Institute’s research on immigration and human services to provide the organization’s perspective on sound immigration policy. NHSA’s talking points leverage the below strategic framing choices.

1. Explain what’s at stake. The piece weaves together FrameWorks’ recommended Values and Explanatory Metaphors for human services (human potential and construction) and immigration (shared prosperity and wind in our country’s sails) to establish how these two issues are linked to our nation’s overall health and well-being.

Building Well-Being in Our Communities is Vital to Our Shared Prosperity
Human service organizations support a practical approach to immigration policy because we share a common mission: to help everyone reach their full potential so that we can all contribute to our community in meaningful ways.”

Immigration Helps Our Economy Grow with Shared Prosperity
One of the fundamental principles of American life is to make sure our country is prosperous so that everyone can thrive. This requires harnessing everyone’s unique skills and energy to grow our economy and contribute to our communities. Immigration is wind in our country’s sails—providing the labor, skills, and ideas that help push us forward.”

2. Provide context. Establish context by setting up background information and explaining how the topic is a public issue created (and ultimately fixed) by systems and structures.

“Without reasonable and comprehensive changes to our immigration system, we are limiting our country’s growth by preventing people living in the United States from contributing fully to our society. Helping immigrants reach their full potential will empower our communities to grow and help us succeed as a nation.”

3. Explain the implications of specific policy choices. Draw direct connections between and among issues, implications, significance, and solutions, so audiences aren’t left to fill in the gaps with preconceived ideas, and illustrate using specific examples.

“Recent changes to immigration policies, including ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and an increasing reliance on detention and deportation practices that separate families, undermine the foundation of well-being in communities across the country. Young people are particularly susceptible to the consequences of these policy choices. Exposure to the prolonged, toxic levels of stress that are associated with the uncertainty about their futures and the prospect of being separated from their families, friends, and communities disrupts physical, cognitive, and emotional development and weakens the structures that support long-term well-being.”

4. Get specific about solutions. Provide specific solutions by describing critical elements of policy that need to be adopted (e.g., “Federal Immigration Policy Should” section articulating sound policy objectives) and specific asks of the audience (e.g., “Take Action” section to support sensible, or oppose harmful, policies).

5. Avoid harmful framing. Repeating terms that reinforce negative stereotypes, such as “chain migration,” even if the goal is to dispel the belief, contributes to unproductive thinking about immigration (e.g., us versus them). The NHSA talking points recognize and explain the societal benefits of existing immigration policies, such as the family reunification system, and of recommended changes, such as providing opportunities for undocumented immigrants to gain legal status, without repeating harmful, inaccurate descriptions of immigrants.

Download the Immigration Talking Points

To enable us to build a data bank of useful examples to share across the sector, please send any of your organization’s reframed communications using the Building Well-Being Narrative to Bridget Gavaghan, Director of the National Reframing Initiative. Please also submit any questions about applying the reframing recommendations to your organization’s communications to Bridget.