Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 7-24-2013


Party platforms from 1993 through 2008 show a positive approach to immigration policy. Presidential rhetoric, however, does not match the tone of the platforms. There are negative frames (illegality, criminality, terrorism, and economic threats) in nearly 50% of immigration speeches. We argue that social context motivates presidents to talk about immigration negatively. This analysis provides insight into rhetoric as responsive to context rather than a mechanism of power. We coded each speech on immigration from Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, and found statistically significant results that show that immigration rhetoric is more negative when certain social conditions are present.


This is the accepted version of the following article: Arthur, D., & Woods, J. (2013). The contextual presidency: The negative shift in presidential immigration rhetoric. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 43(3), 468-489, which has been published in final form at Copyright © 2013 Center for the Study of the Presidency. All rights reserved. doi:10.1111/psq.12041