Stereotypical Depictions of Latino Criminality: U.S. Latinos in the Media during the MAGA Campaign


  • Eduardo Gonzalez


Depictions of U.S. Latinos in the media and politics are often rooted in narratives of illegality, criminality, and immigration. By reproducing stereotypes of violence, lawlessness, and foreign identity, Latinos in the U.S. often exist in the social imaginary of media and political elites as being legally and culturally incompatible with conventional understandings of U.S. citizenship. Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was rooted in nativist politics that sought to criminalize legal and unauthorized immigrants by representing them as the largest threat to U.S. national security and the economy. This article employs a content analysis of all 74 speeches made during Trump’s “Make America Great Again” presidential campaign to investigate how U.S. Latinos were depicted in the media during the 2016 election cycle. The proceeding section situates the empirical findings within a broader time-series textual analysis, tracking Latino depictions across the eighteenmonth campaign. The findings corroborate Trump’s anti-Latino and anti immigrant positions, as well as a progression on Trump’s discussions of Mexico and NAFTA. Furthermore, the analysis illuminates how Trump exports U.S. Latino stereotypes to villainize his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Taken together, this article demonstrates how Trump’s rhetoric refurbished and aggrandized Latino and immigrant narratives and stereotypes for the consumption of a 2016 audience.