The 'alien other': A culture of dehumanizing immigrants in the United States


  • Douglas Epps
  • Rich Furman University of Washington, Tacoma


deportation, immigration, othering, social exclusion, detention


The United States has had a wavering acceptance of immigrants throughout itshistory, from eager invitations to violent and immediate forced removals. Presently, immigrants from Central America are in the spotlight, who have been dehumanized into that of the “other” and subjected to harsh deportation and criminal proceedings as a result of these perceptions. This article will show that ‘othering’ immigrants has been a part of restrictive immigration policy since the origins of the United States, continuing to present day by the following: 1) “othering” is explained in application to undocumented immigrants in America; 2) a history of US deportation policy is discussed in order to provide a context to the deep-seated tendency of “othering” in the US; 3) recent federal U.S. policies are introduced, examining the constant presence of “othering” unauthorized immigrants, with a primary focus on the Secure Communities program; 4) the widespread phenomenon of “othering” is discussed, both in the US and internationally, as well as the current state of the “alien other” in American political discourse.