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Historical Context of the Border POL 168: [email protected] Politics. Brad Jones Dept. of Political Science UC-Davis http://psfaculty.ucdavis.edu/bsjjones. Useful to Look Back at the Border Historically. The border is a fluid concept Connotes both geographical and psychological distinctions.

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Historical context of the border pol 168 latin@ politics l.jpg

Historical Context of the BorderPOL 168: [email protected] Politics

Brad Jones

Dept. of Political Science



Useful to look back at the border historically l.jpg
Useful to Look Back at the Border Historically

  • The border is a fluid concept

  • Connotes both geographical and psychological distinctions.

  • America has a long history with its southern border.

  • …and by extension, California.

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The Evolution of “The Border”: Treaty of Paris, 1783

  • Treaty of Paris, 1783

    • Southern Border 31st Parallel

    • Western Boundary roughly follows Mississippi river.

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Louisiana Purchase

  • Napoleon “urged” Charles IV of Spain to cede Louisiana Territory to France in 1800.

  • In 1803, he sold it the US for $15 million

  • Became known as the Louisiana Purchase

    • Substantially increases US territory

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Manifest Destiny

  • Note how much of modern-day US was Spanish Territory

  • Concept of Manifest Destiny emerged:

    • Belief that the US would extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific

    • Articulated more than just geography however

  • Sense of superiority of Anglos

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Manifest Destiny(Image from Wikipedia Commons)

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Mexican Independence

  • War with Spain: 1810-1821

  • Sept. 16, 1821: Independence Day (not Cinco de Mayo!)

  • Immediate tension with US, especially over Texas (many claimed Texas was part of the Louisiana Purchase)

  • Shortly after independence, Mexico splits apart.

  • “Regroups” in 1823 (states of Mexico united)

  • Shortly after, Monroe Doctrine stated

  • Makes the Americas a “sphere of influence” for the US

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  • Mexico has few resources to control Texas

  • Mexico forbade slavery

  • Southerners occupy Texas lands for purposes of slaveholding

  • As such, the first “illegal immigration” problem occurred in Mexico, not the US.

  • Separatists movements emerged in Northern realm of Mexico

  • US did not attempt annexation during 1820s-1830s, however.

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Republic of Texas

  • Anglo-Texans and Tejanos rebel against Mexican authorities in 1835-1836 in what is called the Texas War

  • Republic of Texas formed and asks US to annex it.

  • President Jackson declines but recognizes independence.

  • Sectionalism issues prevailed and so no annexation…

  • Until John Tyler (pro-slavery President) decides to annex Texas (1845)

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Path to War

  • Mexicans Enraged

  • US claims Texas border extends to Rio Grande

  • Mexico claims northern border 150 miles further north.

  • Further inflamed when Polk sends US troops to Rio Grande in 1846

  • Skirmishes turn to all-out war between the US and Mexico

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“Halls of Montezuma”

Mexico City occupied

Treaty of Guadlupe Hidalgo signed

Feb. 2, 1848

US Mexico War: 1846-1848

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A New Border

  • Implications of Mexican War?

    • Mexico cedes half territory to US

    • 1 million sq. miles annexed

    • Equivalent to size of Western Europe

    • 100,000 Mexican Citizens absorbed into US

    • 200,000 Native Americans

    • Texas, Arizona, NM, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, California all or part thereof created.

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A New Border

  • American filibusters

    • Not legislative!

    • Attempts to unseat Mexican control in Northern Mexico

    • Article 11 of Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo required US to patrol southern border and protect Mexico from “savages.”

  • Border largely unenforced, leading the way for American filibusters.

  • Boundary dispute emerged due to inaccurate maps

  • Involved Sonora and Chihuahua

  • US wanted border as far south as possible (WHY?)

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Gadsden Purchase

  • US Minister to Mexico: James Gadsden

  • Gadsden sent to Mexico City in 1853

    • Abrogate Art. 11

    • Normalize Trade

    • Obtain transit rights

    • Adjust the border

  • US got everything it was after

    • $10 million in compensation to Mexico

    • This is the Gadsden Purchase

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Stepping Back

  • Historical backdrop to what we observe now.

  • Culturally, much of the US has been Mexican or Spanish

  • Gives some context to those who fear “reconquista” (even if we generally think these fears our unfounded!)

  • Moving forward…

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Enforcement and Immigration in the US

  • After Mexican War, US now has a huge land border w/Mexico

    • How does one enforce entry?

    • Apparently, not much was done; it was not the same kind of issue

  • Throughout 19c and early 20c, very little border control existed.

    • Customs Agents were posted sporadically on the border…

    • But most of the efforts on immigration control focused on European entry, not entry through Mexico

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Not well marked

Very little enforcement and Mexican migration was of little concern.

Much more concerned about…

Chinese migration.

Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

Passed in response to large numbers of Chinese Immigrants (mostly in California)

Arrived during the Gold Rush and for work on the Trans-Continental Railroad

At first, were welcomed

First major piece of legislation aimed at denial-of-entry for would-be migrants.

“Illegal Immigration” was largely a Chinese issue in wake of passage.

Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882

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Enforcement of Migration

  • Few resources devoted to border

    • 1907: 8 immigrant inspectors for Calif. Border

  • Immigration Act of 1907

    • Requires entry through official ports-of-entry

    • Increases enforcement burden

    • Overtime, we start to see more layers of legislative efforts to control entry

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Significant Legislation

  • Immigration Act of 1917

    • “Desirables/Undesirables”

  • Literacy Act of 1917

  • Quota Act of 1921

    • First attempt to quantify entry

  • Immigration Act of 1924

    • Quotas made permanent

    • Oriental Exclusion Act

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Significant Legislation

  • Immigration Act of 1925

    • Expands Border Patrol Functionality

      • Arrest without warrant “any alien who, in his presence of view, is entering or attempting to enter the US in violation of any law or regulation made in pursuance of law regulating the admission of aliens.” (Significance?)

  • McCarren-Walter Act of 1952

    • Restatement of race-based quotas

    • “Subversives” an issue

  • Immigration Act of 1965

    • A rollback…note the context of the time.

  • Immigration and Control Act of 1986

  • But let’s go back in time again…

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Us vs. Them

  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo significantly increased US territory

  • Border policy creates division and cross-purposes

    • Labor was desired

    • …but preferences for labor ebbs and flows with the economy

  • Mexicans become commodified

  • Anti-Mexican nativism emerges in southwest and then evolves in California

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  • Mexican migration was largely centered on Texas

  • Chinese Exclusion Act and similar legislation increased incentive and demand for Mexican labor

  • By 1900, Mexicans constituted about 1-2%

  • Numbers triple in next 20 years

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California and Mexican-Americans

  • Racial Hierarchy

  • Mid-19c. California was fairly homogenous

    • Did not have population characteristics of the East

    • Mexicans were “tolerable”

  • Status hierarchy roughly was:

    • Whites

    • Mexicans (who were “half-civilized” because of ancestral connection to Europe)

    • Blacks (largely were Christian)

    • Asians

    • Native Americans (by far, on the lowest rung here)

  • California Constitutional Convention in 1849

    • Mexicans are considered “white” (Indians were “nonwhite”)

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  • Changes with massive influx of Easterners w/gold rush

  • Population changes had substantial impact on minority populations

    • Native Americans: 100K in 1850; 30K in 1870; 16K in 1880

    • WRT Mexicans, first attempts were at assimilation…but

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Us vs. Them

  • Belief in inferiority of Mexicans began to foment in the early 20c.

    • Fear of “hyper-fertility”

    • Lack of assimilability

    • New York Times (1930): “It is folly to pretend that the more recently arrived Mexicans, who are largely of Indian blood, can be absorbed and incorporated into the American race.” quoted in P. Nevins, Operation Gatekeeper, p. 105.

  • These arguments were put forward for strict quotas on Mexicans

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Us vs. Them

  • Counter Arguments, equally racist, against quotas were made:

    • White race could not be overrun

    • Mexicans didn’t “intermarry”

    • Unlike “negroes”, Mexicans could be deported if they became “unruly.”

  • Great Depression heightened anti-Mexican sentiment

    • Mexicans are treated as the scapegoat for economic problems.

    • 1930s saw mass deportations (even among US citizens)

      • Forcible deportation of about 415,000 Mexicans

    • Reinforces stereotypes that Mexicans are the “other” (aliens)

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Immigration, legal and otherwise

  • Forced deportation creates labor shortfall.

  • …let’s bring ‘em back!

  • Bracero Program

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Policies toward Mexican Immigration: Bracero Program

  • Bracero Program (1942-1964)

    • Program is a response to labor shortage during war.

    • Encouraged migration of farm laborers, initially in Central Valley (sugar beets)

    • Spread across the US

    • “Successful” in terms of supply of cheap labor

  • Perceived as a failed program because of the rise of the “illegal alien.”

    • Contradictory Enforcement

      • INS helps to regulate Bracero Program

      • But institutes OPERATION WETBACK (1954)

  • Operation Wetback

    • Forcible round-ups

    • Show of force

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Evolution of the Border: 1960s

  • Transboundary Cooperation in Mid 20c

  • Emergence of Border Cities

    • Tijuana

    • Mexicali

    • Nogales

  • Fosters transboundary connections

    • Particularly in San Diego

  • Programa Nacional Fronterizo (PRONAF)

    • 1960s

    • Intent: increase levels of tourism to Mexico

  • Border Industrialization Program (1965)

    • Export Processing Industries or maquiladoras

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More Recent History

  • Anti-immigrant sentiment becomes more widespread

  • Chicano civil rights movement propels issue to a national scale.

  • Fears of an “American Quebec”

  • 1976: “The main problem is how to get rid of those 6 to 8 million aliens who are interfering with our economic prosperity.” President Gerald Ford (quoted in Operation Gatekeeper, Nevins, p. 63)

  • Expansion of Border Patrol/INS during Carter Administration

  • Reagan Administration: Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

    • Illegal to hire undocumented migrants

    • The I-9 Form Introduced

    • Granted Amnesty to about 3 million migrants

  • Reagan Policies in Latin America

  • “War on Drugs”

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Language from I-9

  • Anti-Discrimination Notice. It is illegal to discriminate against any individual (other than an alien not authorized to work in the U.S.) in hiring, discharging, or recruiting or referring for a fee because of that individual's national origin or citizenship status. It is illegal to discriminate against work eligible individuals. Employers CANNOT specify which document(s) they will accept from an employee. The refusal to hire an individual because the documents presented have a future expiration date may also constitute illegal discrimination.

  • What Is the Purpose of This Form?

    The purpose of this form is to document that each new employee (both citizen and non-citizen) hired after November 6, 1986 is authorized to work in the United States.

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Toward the current context

  • There is a long history of “getting here from there”…

  • Know your history!