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The BorderPolicy and Politics in Europe and the United States$
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Martin A. Schain

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199938674

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199938674.001.0001

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The Politics of Border Control in the United States

The Politics of Border Control in the United States

Policy Failure and Border Pressure

(p.177) 7 The Politics of Border Control in the United States
The Border

Martin A. Schain

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the shift in border policy in the United States. The shift evolved with what was framed as the surge of undocumented immigration after 1980, and the securitization of what had been a circulation of workers from Mexico to and from the United States. The perception of failure of immigration policy emerged not from a widespread reaction to a sense of failed integration, as in Europe, but to the increased political focus on the growth of the population of undocumented immigrants. The progressive reinforcement of the border, particularly after 1992, had the perverse effect of providing an incentive for migrants to remain on the US side in larger numbers than ever before. The growth of the undocumented population weighed on the political process in three ways. First, it fed a growing perception of failure of the adequacy of southern border controls. Second, as the issue of the border became politicized, it began to undermine stable understandings of policy within the policy network on immigration. Third, the border became a growing focus for intra- and interpolitical party conflict, and was accelerated by federal dynamics.

Keywords:   federal dynamic, illegal immigrants, IRCA, Kennedy-McCain bill, Heritage Foundation, US Border Patrol

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