This is a thorough and substantive study of the United States Border Patrol, or la migra in colloquial Spanish. The agency was created in 1924, underfinanced and understaffed, within the Immigration and Naturalization Service. It took over the duties of an even less-organized group of mounted guards known as line riders, who mainly arrested Chinese migrants attempting to enter surreptitiously from Mexico. Even after its official formation, the Border Patrol continued to guard against clandestine entry of Chinese, now barred totally by the 1924 immigration law. The patrol also targeted Eastern and Southern Europeans who used Mexico as a springboard to slip into the United States because of restrictive quotas within the same law.

It did not take long before Mexicans became a main object of entry enforcement. Even though the western hemisphere was exempted from quota requirements, Mexicans had to meet minimal...

You do not currently have access to this content.