The Horrors Of Trump’s New Immigrant Policy
Professor Marc Petersen
East Carolina University
Under the Trump administration’s extreme “zero tolerance” policy, approximately 2,500 migrant children have been forcefully separated from their families while crossing the U.S. Mexico border. After the separation, the children are later transported to detention facilities where they cling to the possibility that they will be reunited with their families. In the article, “Hundreds of Children Rot in the Desert. End Trump’s Draconian Policies”, the New York Times Editorial Board expresses their personal opinions regarding President’s Trump newly implemented administration policy. Through the use of word diction and the rhetorical appeals, the Editorial Board effectively educates both politically active and politically ignorant U.S citizens about the crisis going on near the American-Mexican border while also persuading citizens to view the policies as they do, which is cruel.
The board’s choice of words plays a significant role in convincing readers, as well as U.S citizens, that Trump’s administration policy is cruel. Beginning with the title, the board chooses to use the word “rot” to describe the migrant children in the detention facilities. Children are not actually rotting, but the use of this word highlights the severity of the crisis and also the misery children are facing while being locked away from their families. The article then begins with the statement, “It doesn’t take a psychologist to understand that ripping children from their beds in the middle of the night, tearing them from anyone they’ve forged a connection with, and thrusting them into uncertainty could damage them” (“Hundreds of Children Rot”, 2018). The use of the phrases “ripping children from their beds in the middle of the night” and “thrusting them into uncertainty” suggests that they are trying to reach the hearts of citizens and influence their opinions on the issue. The board also says, “It doesn’t take a psychologist to understand” which indicates that they are targeting all U.S citizens.
The Board uses the rhetorical appeal, pathos, to emotionally connect with the audience and evoke feelings of commiseration. The board relied primarily on appeals to emotion, rather than appeals to logic and credibility in order to influence the public’s opinion because this was very heartbreaking topic. At the beginning of the article, a vivid picture is displayed. In the picture, there are several children, but the focus is drawn to one specific girl. As she stands there, a white hand is seen resting on her shoulder. In this case, the hand could represent an authoritative figure. In the picture, you can clearly see that the girl is everything but comfortable. Her shoulders are in a hunched position and the look on her face suggests that she is terrified. The picture also shows no trace of parents or adults, which could indicate that the children have already been separated from their families and are on their way to the uncertainty that awaits them. This picture is intended to evoke feelings of pity and allows citizens to see Trump’s policy for what it really is — evil. The Board also chose to include another picture into the article in order to emotionally manipulate the audience. The picture consists of a pile of toys and stuffed animals outside of a fence, with the following caption,” Shoes and toys left at the Tornillo Port of Entry in Tornillo, Tex, where the minors crossing the border without proper papers have been housed after being separated from their families” (“Hundreds of Children Rot”, 2018). This photo included just enough sensitive factors to induce a reaction from readers. Paul Wortman, a reader of the article, states “This is criminal. And as a member of a Holocaust family, the photo of a pile of shoes, wire fencing, and armed guards was re-traumatizing to me even after 70 years” (“Hundreds of Children Rot”, 2018). The use of pathos, in the form of visual images, was intended to emotionally connect with the audience and get us to see the negative aspects of the policy. The board relied primarily on appeals to emotion, rather than appeals to logic and credibility in order to influence the public’s opinion because this was very heartbreaking topic.
Through the use of the rhetorical appeal, logos, the board is able to provide the audience with factual proof that Trump’s administration policy fails to provide adequate shelter and security for the migrant children. Several cases of physical abuse, sexual assault, medical neglect and emotional torment have been reported at the facilities and shelters housing the children (“Hundreds of Children Rot”, 2018). The board states, “the tent city in Texas is not being held to any of the rules that group homes or foster care facilities are subject to” (Hundreds of Children Rot”, 2018). On top of already being imprisoned, the facilities are not governed by rules, leaving the children susceptible to any and everything that could possibly harm them. Including this particular fact shows the audience the downside of Trump’s new policy and contributes to the reasons why something needs to be done about it. Although this fact was included, appeals to reason were not used as much in this article.
Through the use of the rhetorical appeal, ethos, the board is able to prove that their information is credible and can be trusted. It was stated that “Staff members at shelters cried as the children were removed, they told The Times, out of dread for what the children would now face” (“Hundreds of Children Rot”, 2018). The staff members serve as reliable sources because they were actually there to experience the situation firsthand. Although this article is primarily opinion based, it is still important to know that the information we, the audience, are receiving is reliable. The board demonstrates both credibility and authenticity, further enhancing the strength of their overall argument. Credibility also lets the audience know that the issues being discussed are actually happening and adds to the reasons why this matter is important.
In conclusion, the Editorial Board’s use of diction and the rhetorical appeals was effective in both informing U.S citizens about the crisis involving Trump’s new policy and convincing them that the policy is wrong. If you did not have an opinion on this topic before reading the article, they made sure you had one after.
Hundreds of Children Rot in the Desert. End Trump’s Draconian Policies. The New York Times. Retrieved on 11 October 2018 from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/ opinion/migrant-children-tent-city-texas.html