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This chapter shows how the twentieth-century appearance of a Chicano minority population in the United States originated from the subordination of the nation of Mexico to U.S. economic and political interests. We argue that, far from being marginal to the course of modern U.S. history, the Chicano minority, an immigrant people, stands at the center both of that history and of a process of imperial expansionism that originated in the last three decades of the nineteenth century and that continues today.

This chapter advances the analytics of “legal violence” to capture the normalized but cumulatively injurious effects of the law. It draws on the interrelated arenas of work, family, and school to expose how the criminalization of Central American migrants at the federal, state, and local levels is not only exclusionary but also generates violent effects for individual immigrants and their families.

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