Passports in the Time of Trump
25 Symploke: Theoretical, Cultural and Literary Scholarship 155-174 (2017)
Posted: 5 Jun 2018
Date Written: July 31, 2017
This essay examines the public reaction to President Trump's three executive orders on immigration ("Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry," "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," and "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements") from their January 2017 inception through summer 2017. While the latter two executive orders arguably threaten the most dramatic impact, the first executive order elicited the strongest outcry. Charting the legal shifts presaged and engendered by these three orders, as well their human costs, I posit several reasons for the difference in reaction.
While there are many factors at work, underlying the muted reaction to the border and interior orders is a tacit acceptance of the fact of deportation, in particular of those considered disposable. This acceptance is made clear by examining the reaction to deportations under President Obama and under President Trump (outcry against deportations under Trump seem more about Trump than about deportations). It appears in the monikers for border and interior orders ("The Wall" and "Sanctuary Cities") which emphasize concern for U.S. taxpayers and not for the many other ways these two orders drastically change life for immigrants. It is also evident even in the proposal of a radical ecotopia submitted to the design competition for Trump's border wall, which would create a new, independent co-nation in the US/Mexico borderlands – but which would limit free movement to "law-abiding North American citizens." Deportation is engrained in our vision of the "nation of immigrants"; deportation is part of our everyday.
Paper available online through Project Muse.
Keywords: Immigration, Trump, Deportation, Travel Ban, Muslim Ban, Executive Orders
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