Douglas  Epps

Utilizing Race-Class Narrative Frames to Mobilize Support for Community-Based Alternatives to Immigration Detention

Primarily impacting noncitizen communities of color, government reliance on human confinement as a method of immigration enforcement has rapidly and steadily increased since the early 1990’s. The associated psychological, physiological, familial, and financial harms have been well documented in the literature. A critical issue with preventing the continued expansion of mass immigration detention, lies in the disconnect between lawmaker, electorate, and affected group(s) coupled with an onslaught of rhetoric portraying immigrants as threats. Despite growing pressure on leadership to abandon current punitive responses, policy change is left contingent upon an electorate that may perceive little personal stake in reform, given that US citizenship is required to participate in the political process. Focusing on mechanisms of policy reform, this study adopts a survey experiment to investigate the utility of a novel communication strategy that emphasizes racial solidarity, interclass unity, and shared self-interest to mobilize support for incorporating harm reduction policy as an viable alternative to human confinement.