“A Legacy of Exclusion” briefly traces the historical migration of Latinas/os to the US South, countering the myth that the migration of Latinas/os to the region is new. Additionally, the piece argues that the exclusion Latinas/os face in the region is a continuation of racist policies and unequal power dynamics in the South that link Latina/o presence to a longer historical past and legacy. Through an examination of Alabama’s anti-immigration legislation, HB 56, I make two interrelated arguments. First, I argue that although there is nothing new about Latina/o migration to the region, what is new is the geopolitics of immigration — specifically, the proliferation of immigration enforcement within the interior of the United States. Second, these kinds of racist exclusionary projects have historical precedent. The contemporary regulation of nonwhite bodies is part of a much longer legacy of social control in the United States. Moving forward, I urge scholars of Latina/o studies and related fields whose focus is on the US South to engage with the history of settler colonialism, the displacement of native peoples, and the African American history of this region as a way to make important historical connections among and across racialized and otherized groups.

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