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The Politics of Anti-Immigration Discourse and Opportunities for Educational Leadership  

Randall Clemens and Autumn Tooms Cyprès

Words have power: power to unite, to inspire, to divide, to harm. Politicians have long used persuasive language and rhetoric to mobilize constituents and to influence policy discussions. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican Party nominee Donald Trump, capitalizing on his reputation for blunt and brash comments, created a political brand based on unedited statements and sweeping promises. He vowed to “Make America Great Again.” It stirred, galvanized, and emboldened supporters. For many, however, the candidate’s divisive discourse invoked legacies of marginalization and exclusion. Across educational settings, Trump’s language reverberated. Campaign promises left many unsure about the future of immigrants in the United States. After the election, anti-immigrant discourse continued and hate crimes spiked. The events required educational leaders to respond to support and empower immigrant students. They highlighted the need for leaders to create communities that maintain democratic ideals and ensure inclusivity and belonging for all stakeholders.