Article Title

Border Brutalism


Concepts like freedom and liberty motivate Americans on the global stage. This has racial implications past and present. Exploring these arguments, this Essay: (1) reviews Greg Grandin’s The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America and (2) proposes a framework to identify law’s place in these motivations. The End of the Myth argues that frontier myths inspired expansion west and then overseas. While this was seen as innately positive, it also downplayed racism. Now, the idea of the border drives Americans and motivates their leaders. With border brutalism policies, a new myth responds to domestic pessimism. This border myth treats racism as an inevitable reality. This Essay proposes a “Brutal Framework” to examine law’s role in this racialization. It identifies how law informs geopolitics, racial consequences, public limits, and policies. In particular, this Essay analyzes judicial rulings regarding borders and admission (Trump v. Hawaii), court powers (DHS v. Thuraissigiam), and violence (Hernández v. Mesa) as examples that provide rationales and normative footing for the border myth. This Essay describes the utility of the Framework beyond these examples. A Framework that moves away from studying security, immigration, economics, and policymaking as separate silos and sees race as a domestic and international issue.