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The INS on the LineMaking Immigration Law on the US-Mexico Border, 1917-1954$
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S. Deborah Kang

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199757435

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199757435.001.0001

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A Sectional Immigration Policy

A Sectional Immigration Policy

(p.11) 1 A Sectional Immigration Policy
The INS on the Line

S. Deborah Kang

Oxford University Press

In the early twentieth century, the Bureau of Immigration adopted a lax approach to the enforcement of the federal immigration laws along the US-Mexico border. Yet the Mexican Revolution and World War I transformed the nation’s orientation toward the southern line, raising concerns about the entry of alien enemies and unwanted immigrants. In response, the federal government drew upon the Immigration Act of 1917 and the Passport Act of 1918 to strengthen its border enforcement capacities. The efforts of local Bureau of Immigration officials to enforce the letter of these new laws met with fierce resistance from border residents who had grown accustomed to crossing and recrossing the border at will. So as to satisfy locals’ demands, southwestern immigration officials created a series of legal innovations that diluted the restrictive impact of the immigration and passport laws, and sustained the transnational economy and society of the border region.

Keywords:   border crossing cards, literacy test, Passport Act, agricultural labor, Border Patrol, World War I, Mexican Revolution

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