President Trump’s action of deploying the United States Military to the southern border is ingrained in xenophobia perpetuated by his prejudiced comments in the 2016 campaign regarding the construction of a border wall between the United States of America and Mexico.
Almost a year and a half into the Trump administration, progress in its construction has been limited, to say the least. It cannot be a coincidence that on the same day, April 2, 2018, President Trump declared on Twitter that “DACA is dead because the Democrats didn’t care or act…Democrats want No Borders, hence drugs and crime!”
His campaign promises, xenophobic rhetoric and deployment of the military on the Mexican border only perpetuate the growing dichotomous polarization and partisanship between the Republican and Democratic Parties.
There is precedent for this type of action. In 2006, President Bush sent 6,000 National Guard troops to the border to increase security. On the same note in 2010, President Obama sent 1,200 National Guard troops to the border for similar reasons. This precedent is nothing new and even originates in the foundation of our country. In August of 1794, President Washington sent 15,000 state militiamen into Western Pennsylvania so supplant the infamous Whiskey Rebellion.
Although I believe that President Trump acts out of prejudice zeal and these events uncannily occur the same day as his backlash toward DACA and the Democratic Party, I cannot deny that this action is anything new regarding American history. Yet, President Trump’s deployment does not follow the same precedent as the former presidents. He follows his own agenda for his own motives.
President Trump’s xenophobia surprisingly did not halt his presidential campaign from transforming into a victorious election on November 8, 2016. The numerous frequency of xenophobic comments about ethnic minorities and immigrants in the United States parallels the institutionalized white nationalism ingrained in society since European imperialism.
Before his presidential campaign, Trump carried xenophobic rhetoric in the past. In the 2012 election, Trump established the “Birther” conspiracy by questioning President Barack Obama’s citizenship.
While a running candidate for the presidential election in 2016, on December 7, 2015, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” On June 2, 2016, Trump questioned if U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel held inherent bias in a case about Trump University because of his Mexican heritage.
As president, Trump did not denounce the endorsement of Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke until directly confronted on national television. Trump fully pardoned Joe Arpaio on August 24, 2017, who racially profiled Latino and Latina individuals. In response to the White Supremacist Rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina, Trump announced there was “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”
By not criticizing white supremacy, he opened the floodgate for the acceptance of open racial microaggressions in the American psyche. Unfortunately, these are only glimpses of Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric.
In this sense, presidential precedent cannot claim the entirety of the National Guard’s deployment at the Mexican border. The deployment fundamentally perpetuates racial microaggressions and xenophobic rhetoric because the current president facilitates the normalization of racism.