Imaginary Lines: Border Enforcement and the Origins of Undocumented Immigration, 1882-1930

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Overview

Although popularly conceived as a relatively recent phenomenon, patterns of immigrant smuggling and undocumented entry across American land borders first emerged in the late nineteenth century. Ingenious smugglers and immigrants, long and remote boundary lines, and strong push-and-pull factors created porous borders then, much as they do now.

Historian Patrick Ettinger offers the first comprehensive historical study of evolving border enforcement efforts on American land borders at the turn of the twentieth century. He traces the origins of widespread immigrant smuggling and illicit entry on the northern and southern United States borders at a time when English, Irish, Chinese, Italian, Russian, Lebanese, Japanese, Greek, and, later, Mexican migrants created various "backdoors" into the United States. No other work looks so closely at the sweeping, if often ineffectual, innovations in federal border enforcement practices designed to stem these flows.

From upstate Maine to Puget Sound, from San Diego to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas, federal officials struggled to adapt national immigration policies to challenging local conditions, all the while battling wits with resourceful smugglers and determined immigrants. In effect, the period saw the simultaneous "drawing" and "erasing" of the official border, and its gradual articulation and elaboration in the midst of consistently successful efforts to undermine it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292721180
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 12/7/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 The Menaces Without: Immigrant Aliens and the Origins of Immigration Restrictions 13

Chapter 2 Diverted Streams: Discovering a Permeable Border, 1882-1891 37

Chapter 3 Drawing the Lines: Blueprints For Immigration Enforcement on the Borders, 1891-1910 67

Chapter 4 Erasing the Lines: Immigrant Ingenuity on the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1895-1910 93

Chapter 5 Northward Bound: Mexican Immigrants, Migrants, and Refugees at the Border, 1900-1921 123

Chapter 6 The Sisyphean Task: Origins of the Modern Border 145

Epilogue An Imaginary Line: Change and Continuity on the U.S.-Mexico Border 167

Notes 179

Bibliography 225

Index 239

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