Legitimizing metaphors of irregular immigration in the Spanish language press in the United States

Gracia Piñero Piñero, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, España
John Moore, University of California San Diego, Estados Unidos
Gracia Piñero Piñero y John Moore, 2014: "Metáforas legitimadoras del inmigrante irregular en la prensa norteamericana en lengua española", Onomázein 30, 190-207
DOI: 10.7764/onomazein.30.11

In contrast to studies of the political discourse related to immigration which have focused principally on the portrayal of immigrants through the eyes of their detractors, this article reveals the image of immigrants effected by the voices of the opposing ideology who defend and support them. These voices make use of a discourse of resistance which questions events as they are depicted by their adversaries and which presents its own interpretation of these same events.
Drawing on a corpus made up of opinion articles from Spanish language publications targeted at the Hispano population in the U.S. county of San Diego, we have analyzed the conceptual and linguistic metaphors used by these voices to describe the life of irregular immigrants and certain relevant aspects of the cognitive universe in which their life unfolds, such as the host country; the residence permit, the document capable of freeing them from the stigma of illegality, or, in the opinion of these voices, the contribution the immigrant makes to the host country.
Through this analysis, we find that metaphors are employed with the intention of legitimizing undocumented immigrants and converting them into competent members of the established social order. In order to do this, the user applies a series of cognitive processes among which the choice of source domain stands out as the element which constantly highlights this idea, making up a coherent conceptual picture that reveals the ideology of the social group which generates it.