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A History of the U.S. Border Patrol

Kelly Lytle Hernandez (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 336 pages
ISBN: 9780520266414
May 2010
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
This is the untold history of the United States Border Patrol from its beginnings in 1924 as a small peripheral outfit to its emergence as a large professional police force. To tell this story, Kelly Lytle Hernández dug through a gold mine of lost and unseen records stored in garages, closets, an abandoned factory, and in U.S. and Mexican archives. Focusing on the daily challenges of policing the borderlands and bringing to light unexpected partners and forgotten dynamics, Migra! reveals how the U.S. Border Patrol translated the mandate for comprehensive migration control into a project of policing Mexicans in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
List of Illustrations
Map of the U.S.-Mexico Border Region


Part One: Formation
1. The Early Years of the U.S. Border Patrol
2. A Sanctuary of Violence: The U.S. Border Patrol in the Greater Texas-Mexico Borderlands
3. The California-Arizona Borderlands
4. Mexico’s Labor Emigrants, America’s Illegal Immigrants: The Rise of Mexican Emigration Control

Part Two: Transformation
5. A New Beginning: World War II and the U.S. Border Patrol
6. The Corridors of Migration Control
7. Uprising: A Farmers’ Rebellion

Part Three: Operation Wetback and Beyond
8. The Triumphs of {apos}54
9. “The Day of the Wetback Is Over”: Migration Control and Crime Control in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Selected Bibliography
Kelly Lytle Hernández is Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Associate Director of the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“If you had to choose one book as a starting place for an intelligent discussion about immigration issues, you would do well to begin with Migra! by UCLA assistant professor of history Kelly Lytle Hernandez. [It] is surprisingly complex and nuanced.”—Tucson Weekly
“A Useful resource for any scholar seeking to understand the complex dynamics of race, migration, and law in the twentieth century.”—Law & History Review
“Hernandez offers well-documented accounts and analysis that bring considerable value to obtaining a resolution to the problem.”—Geri Spieler New York Journal Of Books
“Migra! stands as a major contribution, successfully revising our understanding of border policing.”—Eric Vaughn Meeks Journal Of American History
“Migra! is undoubtedly a valuable book, especially as a storehouse of information and as an introduction to a new, international perspective on American immigration. Sections of it will undoubtedly become the foundations of research that will continue to broader our understanding many years into the future.”—American Book Review
“A thorough and substantive study of the United States Border Patrol, or la migra in colloquial Spanish.”—Hispanic Amer Historical Review
“An interesting and valuable book.”—Historian
“A meticulously researched. interesting, and enjoyable book.”—The Historian
“Overall this book lays out an ambitious agenda and provides well-narrated documentary support for its arguments. . . . A valuable work.”—Kenneth D. Madsen Journal Of Social & Cultural Geography
“[An] insightful history on the Border Patrol.”—Nacla/Report On The Americas
“The book contributes to our understanding of the ways in which American immigration law enforcement was very much a product of U.S. foreign relations with Mexico.”—S. Deborah Kang Western Historical Qtly
Migra! is the first and only substantive history of the U.S. Border Patrol. Hernandez breaks new ground in this deeply researched account of its formation and development.”—George Sanchez, author of Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945

Honorable Mention for the John Hope Franklin Prize, American Studies Association

Honorable Mention for the Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize, American Studies Association

William P. Clements Prize, William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies

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