No Ban, No Wall: Discursive Bordering and Resistance to Donald Trump’s Anti-Refugee Executive Orders

Authors: Jared Keyel*, Virginia Tech
Topics: Migration, Middle East
Keywords: Refugees, Travel Ban
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Bacchus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Borders can be drawn and enacted on physical territory with walls and armed guards to keep certain individuals out. They can also be enacted through law and policy to bar by statute particular others from entry into a territory. Both physical walls and legal rulings function not only as barriers but also as discursive statements to conceptually demarcate insiders and outsiders. During the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, then candidate Donald J. Trump pledged to bar Muslims from entering the United States. In his rhetoric, Muslims were rendered dangerous outsiders. Fulfilling this promise, little more than one week after Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, 2018, Trump signed an executive order that attempted to temporarily ban refugee entrants from seven Muslim majority countries. This executive order, commonly referred to as a refugee ban or Muslim ban, was immediately challenged by both popular protests in major U.S. airports and in the courts. The aim of this paper is to interrogate as discursive acts of bordering the rhetoric and executive actions by the Trump administration and the discourses mobilized by protesters and civil liberties organizations that have attempted to deconstruct the conceptual boundaries between American citizen insiders and would be Muslim migrant outsiders. In this way, I will explore potential avenues for resistance to reactionary attempts to draw and enact insider/outsider boundaries.

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