Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Religious Studies

Reader 1

Erin Runions

Reader 2

Pardis Mahdavi

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© 2017 Kian Vesteinsson


This thesis examines U.S. immigrant and refugee policy and policy discourse to understand the formation of Muslims as particular sites of risk as immigrants in the War on Terror. Theorists of international relations theorize securitization as a process in which state actors begin to use the language of security in considering the regulation and governance of a certain policy issue area. I argue that the securitization of various figures who are Muslim or are linked to Muslim-majority countries in post-9/11 immigrant and refugee policy and political discourse contributes to political conditions under which Islam is understood as the only trusted identifier that marks the potential terrorist.

Chapters II and III of this thesis explore two case studies of the securitization of figures who are Muslim or presumed to be Muslim: the conversation in 2002 and 2003 about the risk presented by international studies from Muslim-majority students; and that of Syrian refugees as would-be terrorists in 2015 and 2016. In the final chapter, I turn to that which I suggest is a realization of the logic that treats all Muslims as risk, the Trump executive orders heavily restricting immigration from Muslim-majority countries, and document the judicial contestations that follow.