Summary, analysis and interpretation of speech
The political speech on immigration policy delivered by Barack Obama in the White House Rose Garden on June 15, 2012 deals with a temporary measure to relieve undocumented immigrated young people. On the occasion of an announcement given by Secretary Napolitano Obama speaks to the supporters of his presidency and the affected persons. In order to improve the nation’s immigration policy, he addresses its current problems and necessary measures.
First, the speaker states that his administration will improve America’s immigration policy. Thus, Obama stresses that young hardworking people, called dreamers, have to face the daily problems of being undocumented, which includes difficulties when applying for a job, a driver’s license or a scholarship. Due to this, he asks his audience to put themselves in their position and imagine the obstacles these people have to deal with, which comprise threat of a deportation to a country they neither know nor speak the language of. In addition, the speaker claims that it makes no sense to expel talented young people, who are truly Americans. Instead, he points out the immigration enforcement resources in border security. Therefore, Obama points out that illegal crossings decrease and deportation of criminals increases. Furthermore, the speaker adds that due to the Department of Homeland Security suitable individuals will not be deported in the near future and can apply for work permission. Additionally, the former president explains that as a temporary fix this measure allows on Americans to focus resources and to relieve talented young people at the same time. At the end, Obama mentions America’s motivational spirit as a nation of immigrants and laws and thus hopes for the Congress’ support.
In the political speech the speaker intends to create a very convincing image of his visions about change in America by using a committed and motivating tone, a positive and inclusive style and various rhetorical devices (as well as by referring to the American Dream).
Therefore, the speaker tries to create a very convincing image of his plans about immigration legislation by using a committed and motivating tone, a positive and inclusive style and various rhetorical devices, which will be analysed in the following text.
First, the speaker establish contact by making the audience feel personally addressed. In this case he uses several times the including we (l. 4, 6, 7) to place him and the audience on the same level and help to identify with the goal.
Besides, Obama employs an enumeration, anaphora1 and alliteration2 when saying “to make it more fair, more efficient and more just” (l. 4). Thus, this climax highlights his personal values and beliefs, which makes them more memorable for the listeners and emphasizes their importance.
Since the speaker employs positively connoted words with his vision, it affects the audience’s emotions by feeling proud and untied. Further on, Obama refers to the fact that the undocumented, immigrated young people, called dreamers, are in a close proximity.
He intensifies this picture by using an enumeration, anaphora and antithesis3 in “[they] study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag.” (l. 6-7) Due to this, Obama conveys an impression of including different groups and highlights a clear circumstance. In this case, the former president encompasses extremes since there are de jure different treatments for documented and undocumented persons.
Nevertheless, he assures that both of these parties are American, which is highlighted with the anaphora “They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way” (l. 7, 8). Thus, the antithesis in this passage symbolizes the diverse ways and possibilities of being an American.
Additionally, Obama makes use of the metaphor4 and appeals “Put yourself in their shoes” (l. 11) in order to create a picture in the audience’s mind and triggering associations. Therefore, he uses the pronoun “you” as a direct address to involve the audience and give each person the feeling of being referred to individually.
When talking about the dreamers, the speaker intends to present them in a very positive way. Consequently, he exaggerates by employing a hyperbole5 in “you’ve done everything right your entire life” (l. 11).
Additionally, he adds a climax and repetition to intensify the idealized picture in the phrase “studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class” (l. 11 - 12). By idealizing the affected people his audience feels compassion and sympathy towards them, so there is an influence on the listener’s emotion.
Furthermore, Obama refers to the ambitious and hardworking mentality which many dreamers have. Therefore, he uses an enumeration and hypotactical syntax (l. 18 - 19) to seem convincing and committed to change the immigration policy. In this context, the antithesis “fix our broken immigration system” (l. 20) highlights a positive and clear development.
Furthermore, Obama points out statistics (l. 23, 26) in order to convince his audience in a serious and pragmatic, formal way. Besides, he stresses that “putting more boots [causes] fewer illegal crossings” (l. 22 - 23). In this way, he underlines the latest progress by using an antithesis which draws the audience’s attention to his success.
In addition, the former president employs a metaphor by mentioning “taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people” (l. 28). Thus, he suggests that his plans can bring light into lives, which evokes a very heroic and selfless self-presentation.
Apart from this, Obama makes it clear that the measure is a temporary stopgap instead of a long-term plan (l. 33). In order to underline this importance, he makes use of an anaphora and enumeration by mentioning “This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is temporary” (l. 32 - 33).
At the end of the speech, Obama gets emotional or urgent and vivid, since you can find repetitions. Either way, this rhetorical device highlights the importance of Obama’s message for the purpose of the speech. Therefore, he stresses that “it is the right thing to do” (l. 35) but, it requires the support of the Congress (l. 39).
Additionally, the speaker praises the dreamers by calling them “talented, driven, patriotic young people” (l. 34 - 35). Hence, this enumeration represents his values and intensifies his confirmation and admiration towards the dreamers. Consequentially, the speaker mentions common values so that the audience feels united because they share the same ideas and the same history.
As the former president mentions that they “have always drawn strength from being the nation of immigrants [and law]” (l. 36) he openly shows his love for the country and his pride by choosing positive words to talk about the nation. This leads to the conclusion that he chooses an easily understandable, inclusive and positive style based on his positive choice of words, common values and inclusive pronouns.
At the very end, Obama employs the rhetorical question “All right?” (l. 39) in order to make the audience think about his statements and to serve as emphasis. Last but not least, Obama directly addresses the audience while saying “Thank you very much, everybody” (l. 39) with the purpose to give each person the feeling of being referred to individually.
Throughout the speech Obama’s attitude is committed, enthusiastic but still serious since he represents an authority but at the same time has to be convincing. Besides, that is why he intends to be motivating and persuasive. Obama is patriotic and proud as well, since this is corresponding with the American mentality.
All in all, the committed tone, positive and inclusive style and the various rhetorical devices create a very vivid and diverse image of Obama’s plans about immigration legislation, which convinces the audience thanks to its appealing presentation. Thus, it makes the speech interesting and captivating, so that it is more memorable and stimulates to rethink this topic.