Presentation Title

Presidential Rhetoric about Immigration from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump

Location

Online - Session 5A

Start Date

4-21-2021 3:50 PM

Major Field of Study

Political Science

Student Type

Undergraduate - Honors

Faculty Mentor(s)

Alison Howard, MA

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

The United States is known as the “land of opportunity” where many seek safety, economic prosperity, and freedom. The U.S is a nation built by immigrants. While achieving the American Dream has never been easy, the U.S has a population of over 45 million migrants. Some laws and policies have been discriminatory and it is important to consider the effect these policies have had during different periods of migration in the United States. Immigration policy is a federal responsibility and, as such, requires presidential leadership. Presidents have had to address the issue and have done so differently. For example, during one of the 1980 Republican primary debates, George H.W Bush and Ronald Reagan both agreed that building a relationship with its Mexican neighbor was important for the U.S.. Yet, in 2016, Donald Trump entered into the presidential election using anti-immigration rhetoric, calling Mexican migrants criminals and rapists and blaming Mexico for sending them to the U.S. Research has shown how the use and power of presidential rhetoric provides leverage over the political system and creates a lasting influence for the public. Understanding how presidents have talked about the issue of immigration is important and this thesis asks: How have presidents both as candidates and once in office talked about immigration policy? Using content analysis I will examine inaugural addresses, policy speeches, presidential debates and statements from 1981 to 2020 to understand how Democratic and Republican presidents have talked about immigration policy as candidates and once in office.

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Apr 21st, 3:50 PM

Presidential Rhetoric about Immigration from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump

Online - Session 5A

The United States is known as the “land of opportunity” where many seek safety, economic prosperity, and freedom. The U.S is a nation built by immigrants. While achieving the American Dream has never been easy, the U.S has a population of over 45 million migrants. Some laws and policies have been discriminatory and it is important to consider the effect these policies have had during different periods of migration in the United States. Immigration policy is a federal responsibility and, as such, requires presidential leadership. Presidents have had to address the issue and have done so differently. For example, during one of the 1980 Republican primary debates, George H.W Bush and Ronald Reagan both agreed that building a relationship with its Mexican neighbor was important for the U.S.. Yet, in 2016, Donald Trump entered into the presidential election using anti-immigration rhetoric, calling Mexican migrants criminals and rapists and blaming Mexico for sending them to the U.S. Research has shown how the use and power of presidential rhetoric provides leverage over the political system and creates a lasting influence for the public. Understanding how presidents have talked about the issue of immigration is important and this thesis asks: How have presidents both as candidates and once in office talked about immigration policy? Using content analysis I will examine inaugural addresses, policy speeches, presidential debates and statements from 1981 to 2020 to understand how Democratic and Republican presidents have talked about immigration policy as candidates and once in office.