Trump’s Essentialist Border Rhetoric: Racial Identities and Dangerous Liminalities

Amy N. Heuman, Alberto González

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Our article focuses on the emergence of a racialized border rhetoric that functions to cast Mexican (im)migrants, refugees, US DREAMers, and undocumented persons in the US—specifically those coming from south of the US border—as social burdens who threaten the sovereignty of the nation-state. We describe the new essentialism in Donald J. Trump’s tweets and speeches that is a hybrid of overt and covert racism working to cast brown bodies as dangerous, deviant, pollutants as a means of controlling their movements and re-centering Whiteness. At the same time, we identify a dangerous liminality that refugees, (im)migrants, and potentially DREAMers find themselves navigating as a result. Attention is also given to counter-narratives that have been advanced to resist this essentializing rhetoric.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-342
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Intercultural Communication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 4 2018


  • Border rhetoric
  • Trump
  • U.S.-Mexico border
  • immigrants
  • race
  • vernacular discourse


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