Unaccompanied children: discourse considerations and policy outcomes
Byrne, Marie Louise
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This thesis examines the public discourse related to the 2014 increase in unaccompanied children arriving at the United States' southwest border to determine the effect, if any, public discourse has had on immigration policy outcomes. In the summer of 2014, the number of unaccompanied children arriving at the nation's border increased. Also that year, the countries of origin of the children changed from those of previous years; more children from Central America were arriving. The increase drew national attention from media and politicians. This thesis describes the public discourse in mass media by systematically examining newspaper articles published in the summer of 2014. It then compares themes in the discourse with immigration policy outcomes to determine if the discourse impacted policy. The researcher concludes it can be difficult to determine if public policy is impacted by, or merely reflects, public discourse. However, for one immigration policy outcome, the postponement of executive action on immigration reform, negative public reaction to the increase in unaccompanied children did impact an immigration policy outcome. The thesis findings advance the knowledge of public discourse about unaccompanied children and the role of public discourse in policy outcomes.
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