"Taking the Shackles off": Metaphor and metonymy of migrant children and border officials in the U.S.

Theresa Catalano, Andreas Musolff

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The present paper utilizes (multimodal) critical discourse studies and cognitive linguistics to analyze the verbal and visual metonymies/metaphors found in online news sources that report on unaccompanied youths from Central America and Border Patrol/immigration officials in the U.S. Findings reveal verbal and visual metonymies that dehumanize and criminalize child migrants, while Border Patrol/immigration enforcement discourse creates WAR/WILD WEST metaphors that justify the militarization of the border. The significance of the study lies in showing how underlying conceptualizations of migrants by immigration and border control agencies help us understand the social imaginary which allows the government to garner public support for unjust policies and treatment of migrants. In addition, by examining the connection of media and law enforcement rhetoric to the Trump administration, it illustrates how rightwing populists gain and maintain power through their appeal to populist ideals and the repetition of core discourses.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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