This Thanksgiving, your family may try to avoid political discussions. But inevitably, as the day of festivity turns into night, someone may want to talk about the many changes our country is experiencing. Your ability to challenge misinformation about immigrants will affect their viewpoint, and ultimately, our country’s trajectory, for years to come.
With that in mind, we’ve assembled some helpful tips and facts to help you to engage with people who don’t share your views.
1. Use the power of story.
If you have permission from a friend, use their story as an example: “You know it’s like my friend ___ who is undocumented…” or “It’s like this lady ___ whose story I saw on defineamerican.com…”
2. Listen actively.
In these days of division and noise, listening is a radical act. We must listen to all of America’s story. Hearing them out will help you understand and respond to what and why they feel they way they do.
3. Avoid name calling.
Studies show calling someone a “racist” doesn’t work, even when they’re exhibiting racist behaviors. You’ll be able to have a more constructive conversation this way.
4. Paint a positive alternative picture.
As opposed to focusing on the dystopian or apocalyptic, talk about the America you want to see…or even more locally the neighborhood you want and how those who now live in more fear are a part of it.
5. Emphasize points of agreement.
It’s possible and even likely that there is something you agree upon, which may be a good place to start.
1. Undocumented Americans pay $11.64 billion annually in state and local taxes.
2. Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, and be incarcerated, than the native born population.
3. More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here, resulting in an immigration net loss of 140,000 from 2009 to 2014.
Source: Pew Research Center
4. Immigration has an overall positive impact on long-run economic growth in the U.S.
You can find more facts at defineamerican.com/factsmatter.