Shifting Landscapes:

The Deliberative Rhetoric of Citizenship in U.S. Immigration Policy


   When examining the rhetoric of public policy, rhetorical practices used during deliberation are often overlooked with many rhetoricians preferring to focus on the policy itself rather than the language used to form the policy. I assert that it is necessary to trace the rhetorical origins of a text and so in this current project I am asking: what about the deliberative rhetorical process in the last forty years has facilitated an anti-Mexican migration U.S. immigration policy? I illustrate U.S. government language practices of authority, constructions of race, and appeals to restriction used to invent, negotiate, argue for, and ultimately write and pass legislative immigration policy concerning definitions of citizenship.  I first trace a short history of immigration policy towards Mexico, look at the deliberation of citizenship in forming policy, and finally work towards understanding the rhetorical implications of definitions of citizenship. I argue that the rhetorical construction of immigration policy is simultaneously an instrumental and performative text that diverges from the intended functional aim and affects undocumented persons through its generative power, that the economic justifications for both pro and anti immigration policies center the immigrant as a metonymy for agricultural economic asset, and that the precariat immigrant is at the whim of a policy making group who capitalize on the use of this metonymy.