Since its founding, America has been marketed as a beacon of hope for groups of people facing disadvantage, offering a new beginning in a world purporting to value merit above privilege, skill above heritage. However, below the surface there is a drastically different story defined largely by disadvantage. Even as America was founded on the ideals of democracy and freedom, there were entire populations deprived of these fundamental rights. As time progressed, this "other" population continuously shifted, with different groups being labelled as such at different points in time. This shifting "other" can be seen quite clearly in relation to American immigration policy, with different groups receiving preferential treatment and others being disadvantaged at various points in time. As the idea of what it means to be "American" has evolved, so, too, has the idea of the "other." This paper analyses trends in American immigration policy from a critical race theory perspective, asserting that "other"-ing has been strategically used by those in power to systematically disadvantage entire groups of people. It also examines the parallels between various anti-immigrant movements and sentiments with the "Not in My Backyard (NIMBY)" movement. By evaluating the context in which American anti-immigration sentiment has developed, this paper places the current administration's rhetoric in an historical context. This paper argues that, if America is to live up to its founding vision as a haven for the disadvantaged, it must confront its history of "other"-ing.
Selina March holds a BA International Relations and Development Studies from the University of Westminster (2015), and is currently pursuing a MA Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies with the University of London. She is currently based in Washington, DC, where she works full-time in the community development field and the nonprofit sector. She has presented her research on social media, political discourse, and refugee protection at various international conferences. She is currently seeking opportunities for PhD study in her research areas, which include: refugee integration, strategies for inclusive communities, the impact of marginalization, and the impact of discourse on communities.