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Immigration Law and the U.S.–Mexico Border

¿Sí se puede?

Kevin R. Johnson

Publication Year: 2011

Americans from radically different political persuasions agree on the need to “fix” the “broken” US immigration laws to address serious deficiencies and improve border enforcement. In Immigration Law and the US–Mexico Border, Kevin Johnson and Bernard Trujillo focus on what for many is at the core of the entire immigration debate in modern America: immigration from Mexico.

In clear, reasonable prose, Johnson and Trujillo explore the long history of discrimination against US citizens of Mexican ancestry in the United States and the current movement against “illegal aliens”—persons depicted as not deserving fair treatment by US law. The authors argue that the United States has a special relationship with Mexico by virtue of sharing a 2,000-mile border and a “land-grab of epic proportions” when the United States “acquired” nearly two-thirds of Mexican territory between 1836 and 1853.

The authors explain US immigration law and policy in its many aspects—including the migration of labor, the place of state and local regulation over immigration, and the contributions of Mexican immigrants to the US economy. Their objective is to help thinking citizens on both sides of the border to sort through an issue with a long, emotional history that will undoubtedly continue to inflame politics until cooler, and better-informed, heads can prevail. The authors conclude by outlining possibilities for the future, sketching a possible movement to promote social justice. Great for use by students of immigration law, border studies, and Latino studies, this book will also be of interest to anyone wondering about the general state of immigration law as it pertains to our most troublesome border.

Published by: University of Arizona Press


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Over the past two hundred years, immigration has been a hot button issue on the American political scene in times of crisis. Anxieties over politics, economics, race and ethnicity, national identity, world events, and the status of US society in general have often been accompanied by public concern with immigration...

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pp. xiii-xvi

I thank my family, Virginia Salazar, Teresa, Tomás, and Elena, for supporting all that I do. Thanks to Donarae Reynolds, Glenda McGlashan, and Nina-Marie Bell for editorial and related support. Maryam Sayyed...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-27

This book in essence contends that the “problem” of undocumented immigration from Mexico to the United States, which dominates any discussion of immigration in this country, is a product of US immigration laws. There are simply too few legal avenues for low- and moderately skilled workers to migrate...

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2. A Brief History of Mexico–US Migration Patterns

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pp. 28-42

When Mexico won her independence from Spain in 1821, her northern border included all or part of what are now the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. From 1836 until 1853, the United States accomplished a land...

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3. Federal Plenary Power over Immigration

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pp. 43-72

The above quotes exemplify one of the more bizarre features of US immigration law. The US government exercises extraordinary powers over regulating immigration, and the courts play an extremely limited role in reviewing the constitutionality of that law. Such judicial deference is hard to square...

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4. The Administration and Enforcementof US Immigration Laws

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pp. 73-86

We begin by examining administrative agencies as a general matter, before turning to immigration in particular. Next, we look at how the immigration agencies were substantially reorganized after the events of September 11, 2001. Then we explain the various immigration administrative...

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5. Admissions

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pp. 87-105

How do immigrants get into the United States? This chapter explains the various forms of admission into the country, that is, the routes by which noncitizens enter the country under US immigration laws. We look at four categories...

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6. Inadmissibility

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pp. 106-132

US immigration laws create general rules for admission to and removal from the United States but generally fail to make any special rules recognizing the special relationship between the United States and Mexico, neighboring nations that share a land border extending thousands of miles and...

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7. Removal

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pp. 133-147

How is US immigration law used to throw people out of the country? The United States can deport (lawyers use the formal term remove) all sorts of immigrants, from those who have crossed into this country a few minutes ago, to those who have been living and working in the United States for

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8. Regulating the Migration of Labor

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pp. 148-168

It is among the oldest of migration stories: one leaves home and family and moves to a new country in order to work. The labor market of the United States attracts many migrants. The regulation of migrant labor is an important part of American...

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9. US–Mexico Border Enforcement

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pp. 169-197

This chapter touches on an issue that is unquestionably relevant today to the continuing debate over US immigration law and policy. Over the last decade, the US government has greatly increased border enforcement operations, especially along the nation’s southern border with Mexico. The result has...

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10. State and Local Regulation of Immigration

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pp. 198-216

We discuss in chapter 3 that the federal government has the power to regulate immigration. Yet many other communities in the United States have exhibited an interest in regulating immigration and immigrants. These communities include state and local governments (including...

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11. National Security and Immigration Law and Policy

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pp. 217-240

The events of September 11, 2001, dramatically shifted the debate over immigration law and reform in the United States. Although movement toward more liberal admission and enforcement policies had been in the political winds, the tragic events caused immigration measures to be put into place...

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12. Integration, Protest, and Reform

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pp. 241-272

What does the future hold for Mexican migration to the United States? Predicting the future is always difficult, but it is especially perilous when we are dealing with an issue as contested as migration from Mexico to the United States. This chapter outlines some possibilities for the future,...

Glossary of Terms

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pp. 273-284


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pp. 285-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780816505593
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816527809

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2011