Illegality and Enforcement in the Framing of Immigrant Education in US Newspapers




The United States Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe (1982) that all immigrants, regardless of their legal immigration status under federal law, have a fundamental right to K-12 education. Despite having a constitutional right to K-12 education, immigrants’ right to postsecondary education remains contested and is shaped by federal and state laws on the matter. This article examines 40,469 news articles from 1980 to 2022 covering the fight over immigrant’s right to education, guided by the questions: what frames do reporters construct about immigrants and education, and what role do experts mentioned in an article play in the construction of these frames? Combining machine learning techniques and social network analysis with qualitative coding of news articles by hand, argue that reporters’ use of a range of experts creates a deep conflation of education with immigration enforcement and illegality framing. Thus, despite the quest for journalistic neutrality, the use of experts by reporters across progressive and conservative news sources prevents education from being a topic on its own whenever it includes immigrant children.


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How to Cite

Colbern, A., Shawn Walker, María del Pilar Báez Lara, Katie Marie Glenn, Lauren Kater, & Shelby Busha. (2023). Illegality and Enforcement in the Framing of Immigrant Education in US Newspapers. New Trends in Qualitative Research, 16, e797.