The introduction presents the book’s main argument that the INS on the US–Mexico border made and remade the nation’s immigration laws over the course of the twentieth century. This claim challenges popular and scholarly notions that the INS functioned primarily as a law enforcement agency, administering laws issued by Congress and the courts, and, instead, underscores the multiple ways in which the local branches of one federal agency defined American immigration law and policy. While the INS in the Southwest often created these measures in a highly haphazard and reactive fashion, they ultimately came to shape the capacities of the American state on the US-Mexico border. The introduction further discusses the implications of this argument for the study of the American administrative state, immigration law and policy history, and borderlands history. It closes with chapter summaries of the book.
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