Strongman on the Border

Trump first voiced the picture of the “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall” as a candidate.  The Border Wall was a prominent element able to bring voters to cathect to the notion of his presidency as an actual prospect,–despite his lack of political experience and any experience in public life:  the promise for its construction, reasonable from a real estate tycoon, redefined the notion of property in the nation and of national belonging for many who felt disenfranchised or without hopes for economic improvement, as it offered a credible promise that that they would welcome a master-builder to effect.  But the generic image of “illegal immigration” that he elected to broadcast–an image, it is noted, that had no reference to actual Mexican migrants, and was not even filmed near the United States border–


–suggested the broad reserve of anti-migrant imagery, all seeking to cast the migrant as without any legal right to enter the country, that the Trump candidacy embraced, even if many could not believe this would be the policy he would adopt as President..

The mapping of imminent dangers so central to the very first campaign advertisement broadcast for Trump’s Presidential campaign, which successfully mapped and fabricated new image of national sovereignty out of whole cloth in quite bizarre ways in order to manufacture the fear of a trans-border threats.  By using doctored images and footage to show migrants “at the southern border,” and even streaming across the border as if to threaten to overwhelm the nation, Trump evoked a new image of sovereignty and sovereign protection that demanded the limiting of individual rights.  Through footage of barely recognizable immigrants, not entering the United States but crossing a fence on the boundaries of Europe into a Spanish enclave in Morocco, Trump’s savvy campaign converted what had been a flashpoint in European fears of refugee migration of boundary crossing, for American audiences.  As a reassuring voice-over assured Trump would “stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for”  as President, the commercial promised a reprioritization of the federal government to police the arrival of migrants designated as “illegal” in the collective imaginary.  The cost of the wall-building was in fact but a small part of the larger budgetary balloon that Trump promoted of hiring border agents, notorious for their use of excessive force and concealment of the force used against asylum-seekers, but whose employment as a para-military agency has recently quite significantly grown for new technology, training, arms, and agents.


Although the television spot mis-mapped the actuality of migration to provoke panicked reactions an uncontrollable flow of refugees, falsely describing fears of Mexicans streaming across “our southern border” by blurry, foreign footage; the film suggested the place-lessness of a feared migration across borders in a globalized world:  it sewed fears of uncontrolled borders borrowed from European fears of a global refugee crisis, showing unidentified faceless hordes could only be contained gave a broad currency to fears of increases in unauthorized immigration concretized in multiple maps of the border and its permeability, but to far greater dramatic effect than earlier maps of the “Current Migrant Stream”–produced some three decades previous–but lent these fears a new concreteness and dramatic presence that seems to have shifted collective attention from the notion of sovereignty and sovereign law.  

Donald-Trump-tv-ad-stop-illegal-immigrationFirst Political Campaign Ad of Donald Trump, Monday, January 4th, 2016

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Filed under 2016 US Presidential Election, Donald Trump, immigration, mapping the US-Mexican border, undocumented migrants

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