“These Parents, Themselves, Are Using These Children as Pawns”: The Politicization of Childhood at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Alyvia Walters


By investigating cable news coverage of Donald Trump’s family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, this article analyzes how colorblindness and American exceptionalism came to be the uniform framing of these stories across Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN in the summer of 2018. Through qualitative content analysis and critical textual analysis of one month of news coverage, I argue that this policy’s impact at the intersection of childhood and race prompted a series of self-corrections on the part of newscasters and invited guests to maintain a cohesive narrative of a colorblind nation that loves children and is decidedly not racist. I explore a confluence of the imagined nation, the racist nation-state, and colorblind ideology as an explanation for why ideologically diverse news outlets would broadcast the same, ultimately patriotic messaging in a moment of panic over U.S. national identity.


family separation, immigration, racism, cable news, U.S. nationalism

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