Posted on April 13, 2017

Opinion: The Border, ‘Filth’ and White Nationalism

Stephen A. Nuño, NBC News, April 12, 2017

The connection between the Trump Administration and white nationalist language and rhetoric has become stunningly clear in the first 100 days of his term in office. This makes this administration the greatest threat to Latinos in generations.

Attorney General Jeff Beauregard Sessions delivered a speech at the US/Mexico border in Nogales on Tuesday. He decried “criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders.”

He then outlined the tough measures against “aliens” — that was the word of choice.


Curiously, the prepared speech hosted on the Department of Justice website included a sentence that he left out in his remarks. The sentence reads, “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.” This was quickly picked up by different publications.

Sure, you could say he was technically referring to drugs and criminal gangs. But this is the same border where thousands attempt to cross, many from Central America, fleeing those same gangs. Why should a statement conflate the border and immigration with “filth?”


Whether it’s at the White House or at the border in Nogales, Arizona, the administration can’t engage in rhetoric that reaffirms how white nationalism views the world.

Regardless of the claim that Sessions’ declaration of war against the immigrant community is about crime and the rule of law, we must not overlook the bigoted undertones of the “America First” approach and its relation to Jeff Session’s speech in Nogales.

Sessions’ focus on immigrants as criminals — despite the fact many are related to American citizens here on the homeland who are Latino, Asian, Muslim, etc. — makes them not their “people”.

The concern over this cannot be understated. A recent analysis of Donald Trump’s online followers by FiveThirtyEight revealed an unsurprisingly, but stunning, relationship to Reddit subgroups dedicated to spreading misogyny, racism, and anti-Semitism.

The groups that propelled Trump to the Presidency are no less aware of the significance of this language and the cues it relays in communicating their values.

It also reveals the broad strokes with which language can stoke white nationalist aims that can influence real policy, on everything from immigration to incarceration and sentencing laws to anti-gay legislation.

Words matter, and we should call the administration on it and oppose it for the good of our nation.