The election of Donald Trump has called attention to the border wall and anti-Mexican discourses and policies, yet these issues are not new. Building Walls puts the recent calls to build a border wall along the US-Mexico border into a larger social and historical context. This book describes the building of walls, symbolic and physical, between Americans and Mexicans, as well as the consequences that these walls have in the lives of immigrants and Latin communities in the United States. The book is divided into three parts: categorical thinking, anti-immigrant speech, and immigration as an experience. The sections discuss how the idea of the nation-state itself constructs borders, how political strategy and racist ideologies reinforce the idea of irreconcilable differences between whites and Latinos, and how immigrants and their families overcome their struggles to continue living in America.
They analyze historical precedents, normative frameworks, divisive discourses, and contemporary daily interactions between whites and Latin individuals. It discusses the debates on how to name people of Latin American origin and the framing of immigrants as a threat and contrasts them to the experiences of migrants and border residents. Building Walls makes a theoretical contribution by showing how different dimensions work together to create durable inequalities between U.S. native whites, Latinos, and newcomers. It provides a sophisticated analysis and empirical description of racializing and exclusionary processes.
Ernesto Castañeda is assistant professor at American University