Elite Discourse on Unaccompanied Minors and the U.S.-Mexico Border

Dr. Mary Christianakis

Foto_M.ChristianakisMary Christianakis is an Associate Professor of Language, Literacy and Culture in the Critical Theory and Social Justice Department at Occidental College. Her main areas of research include education, childhood, and juvenile justice. She has published in Urban Education and Research in the Teaching of English.

Dr. Richard Mora

Mora_RichardRichard Mora is an Associate Professor of Sociology and an affiliate of Latino/a and Latin American Studies at Occidental College. His main areas of research include youth cultures, education, gender, and juvenile justice. He has published iniMex, Gender & Society, and Gender and Education.

En el verano de 2014, hubo un aumento significativo en la detención de los menores no acompañados en la frontera México-Estados Unidos, la gran mayoría de América Central. Los élites políticas y sociales , es decir, las personas que pueden influir de manera significativa a la opinión pública y las políticas gubernamentales, aparecieron en los principales programas de noticias de Estados Unidos y pidieron más seguridad fronteriza. Se realizó un análisis del discurso de las expresiones socioculturales realizadas por las élites sociales y políticas, específicamente políticos conservadores estadounidenses, anfitriones de televisión, y los analistas políticos y comentaristas en la televisión entre el 1 de junio y el 31 de agosto de 2014. Se encontró que las élites conservadoras hicieron referencia a los niños migrantes para reiterar la construcción discursiva de la frontera México-Estados Unidos como un límite destinado a impedir y limitar los indeseables, por lo tanto, contribuyeron al “securitization discourse” que enmarca la seguridad fronteriza como imperativo.

In the summer of 2014, there was a significant increase in the detainment of unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border, the vast majority from Central America. Political and social elites, that is, individuals who can significantly influence public opinion and governmental policies, appeared on major U.S. news programs and called for added border security. We conducted a discourse analysis of the socio-cultural utterances social and political elites, specifically conservative U.S. politicians, television hosts, and political analysts and commentators made on television between June 1st and August 31st of 2014. We found that conservative elites referenced the migrant children to reiterate the discursive construction of the U.S.-Mexico border as a boundary meant to deter and constrain undesirables, thus, contributing to the “securitization discourse” that frames border security as imperative.