The Wall: The Right to Liberty and Security at the US–Mexico Border

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för globala studier

Abstract: The migration and refugee situation on the US–Mexico border has been heavily debated and caused a lot of controversy in the last couple of years, much as a consequence of the Trump administration’s immigration policy and promise of a wall along the border. This thesis, therefore, aims to analyze how migrants’ and refugees’ right to liberty and security was affected by the way the Trump–government portrayed them, and the phenomenon of migration, as a security threat. A special interest is paid to the detention and separation of families at the border. Through a critical discourse analysis, with support in the theoretical social-constructionist framework consisting of theories on (non)citizenship and securitization, the results show that through the portrayal of migrants and refugees as dangerous, illegal criminals the Trump administration managed to securitize the phenomenon of migration. Via multiple speech acts which refer to, and connect, migrants and refugees with negative attributes, the produced identities on the two sides of the border became clear: there was the ‘American victim’ and the ‘illegal alien’. The US government, during the Trump administration, thus affected the right to liberty and security on multiple levels: both in more moral humanitarian ‘soft’ ways, as well as through military enforcement actions – or, to put it in other words, both through symbolic and instrumental ways of operating. The right to liberty and security was breached on several different points through targeted policies (Zero Tolerance Policy and MPP), the creation of fear, collective punishment, and arbitrary mass detentions.

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