Latino Conservative Group Sends Memo To Republicans On How To Talk About Immigration

“Please consider these tonally sensitive messaging points as you discuss immigration, regardless of your position,” Hispanic Leadership Network leader advises Republicans. No mentions of Reagan or “illegals” allowed.

WASHINGTON — A Hispanic organization connected to the Republican Party is circulating a set of “dos and don’ts” for lawmakers on Capitol Hill when talking about immigration reform.

The one-page set of talking points, obtained by BuzzFeed Monday night, is designed to help keep Republicans on message as they navigate the immigration debate and keep them from using the sort of insensitive rhetoric that has turned off Latino voters to the GOP over the last decade.

“As you consider potential immigration proposals, please reference the Hispanic Leadership Network’s Suggested Messaging Dos and Don’ts of Immigration Reform. Tone and rhetoric will be key in the days and weeks ahead as both liberals and conservatives lay out their perspectives. Please consider these tonally sensitive messaging points as you discuss immigration, regardless of your position,” HLN Executive Director Jennifer Korn wrote in an email to Republican offices Monday.

The talking points address a number of fundamental questions lawmakers may face. “When engaging in conversation or doing an interview on immigration reform,” it suggests lawmakers “Do acknowledge that ‘Our current immigration system is broken and we need to fix it,’” but “Don’t begin with ‘We are against amnesty.’”

Similarly, when discussing undocumented workers living in the United States, HLN advises members, “Do use ‘undocumented immigrant’ when referring to those here without documentation,” but “Don’t use the word ‘illegals’ or ‘aliens,’” and “Don’t use the term ‘anchor baby.’”

Strikingly, HLN also recommends lawmakers not reference Ronald Reagan’s immigration reform law, pointing out, “That legislation was true amnesty; in addition, border security, fixing our visa system, and a temporary worker program were parts of the reform which were never implemented.”

The full set of dos and don’ts is below:

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John Stanton is the Washington, D.C. bureau chief for BuzzFeed News. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.
Contact John Stanton at
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