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Militarizing the Border

When Mexicans Became the Enemy

Miguel Antonio Levario

Publication Year: 2012

As historian Miguel Antonio Levario explains in this timely book, current tensions and controversy over immigration and law enforcement issues centered on the US-Mexico border are only the latest evidence of a long-standing atmosphere of uncertainty and mistrust plaguing this region. Militarizing the Border: When Mexicans Became the Enemy, focusing on El Paso and its environs, examines the history of the relationship among law enforcement, military, civil, and political institutions, and local communities.?In the years between 1895 and 1940, West Texas experienced intense militarization efforts by local, state, and federal authorities responding to both local and international circumstances. El Paso’s “Mexicanization” in the early decades of the twentieth century contributed to strong racial tensions between the region’s Anglo population and newly arrived Mexicans. Anglos and Mexicans alike turned to violence in order to deal with a racial situation rapidly spinning out of control. ?Highlighting a binational focus that sheds light on other US-Mexico border zones in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Militarizing the Border establishes historical precedent for current border issues such as undocumented immigration, violence, and racial antagonism on both sides of the boundary line. This important evaluation of early US border militarization and its effect on racial and social relations among Anglos, Mexicans, and Mexican Americans will afford scholars, policymakers, and community leaders a better understanding of current policy . . . and its potential failure.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press


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pp. c-c

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xvi

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pp. 1-16

I remember the daily twenty- mile drive to school from Anthony, Texas, to El Paso. My brothers and I attended a small allmale Catholic high school nestled near the downtown district. One morning, as we approached the stretch of highway that hugs the University of Texas at El Paso, I noticed that the city was preparing for war. Perhaps war,...

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1. Cowboys and Bandidos:

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pp. 17-37

As the state’s primary paramilitary police force in the nineteenth century, the Texas Rangers had the ostensible responsibility of maintaining law and order, a duty that meant pacifying Native Americans and securing the Texas border region from the recurring confl ict with Mexicans. For some scholars it also meant the Rangers were extensions of the...

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2. ¡Muerte a los gringos!:

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pp. 38-52

Their bodies were stripped nearly naked and strewn about the train like fallen leaves. Pools of blood marked their final resting place. This was the scene near the Cusihuiriáchic (Cusi) Mines in Santa Ysabel, Chihuahua. Nineteen engineers and staff of the Cusihuiriáchic Mining Company traveling on the Mexican Northwestern Railroad to their reopened...

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3. “How Mexicans Die”:

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pp. 53-66

In the days following the race riot in El Paso, some American officials believed that the excitement subsided and relative peace permeated the city streets. American military reports stated that carrancista general Gabriel Gavira in Ciudad Juárez took strong measures to prevent any move on the part of Mexicans to the US side of the river. In addition, relations...

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4. ¡Viva Villa!:

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pp. 67-87

On March 3, 1916, Zach Cobb reported to Secretary of State Robert Lansing, “[Francisco] Villa left Pacheco Point, near Madera, Wednesday, with three hundred men headed toward Columbus, New Mexico. . . . There is reason to believe he intends to cross to United States and hopes to proceed to Washington.”1 Cobb sent a follow- up letter on March 6...

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5. “Agents under Fire”:

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pp. 88-109

In March 1916, Mexicans living in South Texas, along the Texas- Mexico border, complained to their local consul regarding the US Public Health Service’s (USPHS) branding of their arms, in permanent ink, with the word “admitted,” upon being bathed and physically examined at Laredo’s international bridge. The Mexican consul sent a letter asserting...

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pp. 110-119

This study examined the history of West Texas and northern Mexico between 1893 and 1933 with a special focus on the establishment of US militarization and its connection to racialized social relations. West Texas as a border region provided a transnational perspective from which to analyze localized and national histories. Varying events and...

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Epilogue: “Where the Bad Guys Are” 120

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pp. 120-126

In November 1989, President George H. W. Bush supported General Colin Powell’s order to establish Joint Task Force 6 (JTF-6) at Fort Bliss, Texas.1 The task force’s original mission was to “to serve as the planning and coordinating operational headquarters to support local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies within the Southwest border region...

appendix 1.

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pp. 127-133

appendix 2.

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pp. 134-135

appendix 3.

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pp. 136-136


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pp. 137-174


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pp. 175-186


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pp. 187-200

Back Cover

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pp. bc-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9781603447799
E-ISBN-10: 1603447792
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603447584
Print-ISBN-10: 160344758x

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 8 b&w photos. 3 appendixes. Bib. Index.
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 808817575
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Militarizing the Border

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mexican-American Border Region -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • El Paso (Tex.) -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Texas, West -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Mexico -- History -- 20th century.
  • Mexico -- Foreign relations -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Violence -- Texas, West -- History -- 20th century.
  • Mexican Americans -- Texas -- Ethnic identity.
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