Faculty Publications

Publication Date



Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Performance Studies | Social Influence and Political Communication | Speech and Rhetorical Studies


This critical essay applies the concept of “presence” as a theoretical lens for explaining the rhetorical efficacy of protest events surrounding a contemporary debate about immigrants’ rights in a suburban New York township. Specifically, the protests surrounding the town board meetings regarding Brookhaven’s “Neighborhood Preservation Act,” a piece of legislation geared toward making rental laws more stringent, are examined. A group comprised largely of white, upper middle-class citizens voiced their support for the proposed legislation, while a group of day laborers and those sympathetic with their cause characterized the proposed legislation as a form of racial discrimination disguised as a rental law. This analysis focuses on the specific tactics used by protesters on both sides of this issue in their attempts to persuade members of the town board, the news media, and the citizens of Brookhaven township.

Document Type

Accepted Version


This article is the author-created version that incorporates referee comments. It is the accepted-for-publication version. The content of this version may be identical to the published version (the version of record) save for value-added elements provided by the publisher (e.g., copy editing, layout changes, or branding consistent with the rest of the publication).


This is an electronic version of an article published in Communication Quarterly, volume 51, issue 1, 2003, pages 73-89. Communication Quarterly is available online at: doi:10.1080/01463370309370141

Original Citation

Jackson B. Miller
“Legal or illegal? Documented or undocumented?” The struggle over Brookhaven’s Neighborhood Preservation Act.
Communication Quarterly, 2003, volume 51, issue 1, pages 73-89



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