Child immigrant detention: Spokesperson key messages, engineered frames and cultural rules

Abstract: PR professionals engineer acceptability for policy, such as child immigrant detention, through key messages. Agenda building, engineered frames and rules theories guide study of spokesperson attributions from 221 articles from January 2017 to October 2019. Findings show attributions to U.S. government spokespersons appeared most in stories. Journalist inquiries were declined at times citing legal and privacy arguments. While all spokespersons addressed the vulnerability of detained children, government spokespersons framed adult immigrant criminality as causing children harm. Opinion polls show government efforts to present child detention as a law-and-order issue appears to clash with cultural rules that value child well-being.