S. Deborah Kang's book The INS on the Line provides an eminently accessible account of a federal administrative agency's engagement with law as it applies formal rules to specific factual situations. While the particular context of Kang's discussion is the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) along the US-Mexican border during the first half of the twentieth century, her basic thesis—that government agencies charged with enforcing the law necessarily make law as they apply it—characterizes the administrative state more generally. Her book should be of interest to both historians of migration and government and, especially, scholars concerned with the development of law and the commitment to the rule of law in the Americas.

Kang's goal is to provide a nuanced context for understanding the INS's operations along the southern US border. In doing so, she strives to counter the prevailing historiographical characterization...

You do not currently have access to this content.