My first job as a communications student back in Mexico was doing social research. I’m familiar with the methodologies and techniques used in this field, especially the ones related to quantitative research.
The key to quantitative social research is transforming apparently unmeasurable concepts into quantifiable data to determine the presence, absence and intensity of factors. Thanks to statistical tools, you can reveal interesting information and create valid claims.
So when I read this article by Univision, I found myself cheering for the students and the good use of social research to sustain legal claims.
A team of 35 students at the University of California Los Angeles has participated in a social research study analyzing Donald Trump’s language against immigrants as a candidate and as president. The results of the study have been incorporated into the amicus brief (friends of the court) accompanying a lawsuit filed by 15 states’ attorneys general to support the beneficiaries of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) against Trump’s executive order to rescind the program.
The title of the study is “The President’s Intent.”
Thanks to the collection of this data, researchers and lawyers can state – backed by numbers – that Trump expresses clear anti-immigrant sentiments. The lawyers can use this information to demonstrate that the DACA phase-off is racially motivated and therefore unconstitutional.
The students analyzed 347 speeches and more than 6,000 tweets. The collection of the data from the tweets and speeches reveals that Trump connected “Hispanic immigrants” with negative adjectives such as “criminals,” “killers,” “gang members,” “rapists,” “drug dealers” “enemy(ies),” “lethal,” “murderers” and “corrupt.” The analysis also revealed that he uses his language in a manner that is “caustic, derogatory, hurtful and false.”
Although you do not need a study to know that Trump’s speech is racist and biased, it is important to show the courts the evidence in a cool, professional and methodologically correct way. This is crucial for one reason: Judges are sensitive to “intent.”
In the opinion of Robert Chang, a law professor who worked closely in this research, “The statements made by Trump… openly express animosity toward immigrants.” This may be grounds to declare the DACA phase-off a violation of the constitution.