Photo: Border Fence
The pending 2013 immigration reform bill aims to establish a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The bill also calls for the completion of 700 miles of border fencing between the United States and Mexico and doubles the number of Border Patrol agents.
Critics of the bill say that heightened border control measures, along with the bill’s proposal to reduce the number of available work visas for agriculture, will only lead to an increase in undocumented migration to the United States from Mexico.
Through an exhaustive study of a time when the border was more porous, Stanford historian Ana Raquel Minian illustrates how “unilateral policies that have attempted to limit population flows across the U.S.-Mexico border through militarization have failed in the past” and are “bound to fail in the future.”
Minian’s research is the first in-depth history of transnational Mexican migration from 1965 to 1986, an era of transition that saw booming circular migration between the United States and Mexico as well as expanding bi-national efforts to regulate the border. The increasingly stringent immigration policies enacted during this period left many Mexicans without the right to fully belong in either nation.
An assistant professor of history at Stanford, Minian hopes her research will bring to light the “historical development of migratory policies and their impact on people’s lives.”
Her research, she said, also shows why current immigration policies “must take into account the transnational forces behind people’s migratory patterns.”
“At the outset, Mexican officials discouraged emigration, but by the 1970s, those same officials were encouraging such departures as a solution to high unemployment and population growth,” Minian said.
Simultaneously, she noted, “the U.S. government attempted to address these same problems by starting to militarize the border. Thousands of Mexican nationals found themselves without the substantive right to belong to either nation-state.”
According to Minian, border militarization “did not reduce migration but instead made it more dangerous.” It also forced undocumented migrants in the United States to make their stay permanent.