Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Lisa A. Flores

Second Advisor

John P. Jackson

Third Advisor

John M. Ackerman


In this master's thesis I situate President Barack Obama's 2011 speech on comprehensive immigration reform as representative of a larger body of immigration reform rhetoric and driving force behind current efforts to pass new legislation. I argue that the President's rhetoric served to conceal a commitment to protect the economic interests of hegemonic whiteness that dominate in contemporary U.S. American society. In the different chapters of this thesis I interrogate rhetorical strategies that served to silence questions of racial segregation, racisms, and even race altogether. I examine and challenge President Obama's ideological subscription to neoliberal principles and the language of late-capitalism that tend to portray immigrants as either economic commodities or threats. Despite a seemingly race-neutral language, President Obama defined the limits of national belonging as products of a public ideology dominated by whiteness, neoliberal politics, and enchantment with protecting national sovereignty and borders.