The problem in the never-ending presidential campaign is that words matter, and candidate Donald Trump has had an impact on Republicans, and sometimes even the Obama administration, when it comes to refugees and migrants. The nativist repetition about the evils of Islamic foreigners and Hispanic migrants resonates.
The story we tell ourselves is that the American identity is rooted not in place, but in the acceptance of a common set of ideals, irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity. The politics of the last decade, however, have strained the notion of e pluribus unum, revealing among whites three definitions of the American nation that are exclusive rather than inclusive.
Trump's call for a wall to protect U.S. borders from marauding Mexican criminals not only demonizes Latinos, but evokes toxic themes of Manifest Destiny that were used to justify American expansionism into Mexico. Themes that allowed white folk -- the U.S.' original "anchor babies" -- to be legitimized as citizens.