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In 2018, President Donald Trump reportedly referred to African immigrants as coming from “sh*thole countries” and said the US should have more migrants from places like Norway. While his comments were widely decried, white supremacist sentiment and media coverage is in fact pervasive in American discourse around immigration and border enforcement. Policies enacted during and after Trump’s presidency have greatly altered Americans’ perceptions of immigration and migrant “criminality,” particularly among conservatives. In this rhetoric, dehumanization of immigrants is used to reduce outgroup empathy and promote ingroup empathy. This research explores this instrumentalization of ingroup empathy in border patrol agents’s discussions of their jobs. In her Vega 2018 article, Vega emphasized how border agents have deployed three distinct legitimization narratives to ensure moral authority including; criminalization as a corrective, uncertainty, and caring control. As one explanation of border agents asserting their power, we are able to identify the crisis of empathy occurring at the border. Through this analysis of empathy the goal of this research is to identify solutions to the real crisis at the border––a crisis in which white supremacist policy and attitudes thrive.



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The Absence of Outgroup Empathy in US Border Enforcement Rhetoric