Communication ETDs

Publication Date



In the present study, I explore mediated constructions of citizenship, immigrant identities, and national identity in the coverage of the debates that surrounded President Obama's 2012 deferred deportation announcement. My goals in this study are to understand (1) how citizenship is constructed in mediated discourse in response to President Obama's announcement; (2) how immigrant identities, specifically young undocumented immigrants (DREAMers), are constructed in mediated discourse; (3) how national identity is constructed through these mediated discourses; and, (4) how the representation of DREAMer identities reproduces or challenges dominant public discourses on citizenship, immigrant identity, and national identity. Using social constructionism and discourse as a theoretical lens, I conducted a discourse analysis to identify frames, narratives, and themes present in the President's speech and in texts from mainstream media outlets with national coverage, immigrant rights organizations, and think tanks in order to explicate the construction of citizenship, immigrant identity, and national identity in these circulating mediated narratives. In addition to President Obama's speech, I analyzed 33 online texts from mainstream media sources and 34 online texts from the immigrant rights organizations and think tanks, for a total of 67 online texts. In regards to DREAMers' identities, I found that the particular framing, narratives, themes, and rhetorical choices in the mediated texts functioned in three primary ways to construct DREAMer identities. First, by privileging a strictly legal definition of citizenship and the narrative of the United States as a nation of laws, sources drew clear boundaries that excluded DREAMers from a national community imagined as a nation of laws. Second, the particular lived experience of DREAMers and their identification with U.S. mainstream national culture--by themselves and others--opened space for questioning the concept of citizenship as a defining category of inclusion. Third, even when the particular context of the DREAMers produced nuances and complementary frames and narratives that broke historical patterns of negative representations of immigrants, positive representations were activated to support the idea that DREAMers participate in and believe in foundational discourses of national identity encapsulated in the discourses of the American Dream and U.S. exceptionality and the rule of law.




immigrants, immigration, citizenship, national identity, media discourse on immigration, DREAMers, deferred deportation, DACA

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Rodriguez, Ilia

First Committee Member (Chair)

Schuetz, Jan

Second Committee Member

Weiss, David

Third Committee Member

Ramirez de Arellano, Adriana

Fourth Committee Member

Santiago-Diaz, Eleuterio