Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol

Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol

Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol

Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol

Synopsis

This is the untold history of the United States Border Patrol from its beginnings in 1924 as a small peripheral outfit to its emergence as a large professional police force. To tell this story, Kelly Lytle Hernández dug through a gold mine of lost and unseen records stored in garages, closets, an abandoned factory, and in U.S. and Mexican archives. Focusing on the daily challenges of policing the borderlands and bringing to light unexpected partners and forgotten dynamics, Migra! reveals how the U.S. Border Patrol translated the mandate for comprehensive migration control into a project of policing Mexicans in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

Excerpt

Toward the end of the Great Depression, DC Comics launched its fantastic tale of an orphaned infant alien who grew up to become an American hero named Superman. The Superman saga begins with the young superhero’s dramatic arrival on earth. Just moments before the destruction of his home planet, Krypton, Superman’s parents rocket their infant son toward salvation in Kansas. Adopted by a childless but moral and God-fearing couple, Superman spends his early years as nothing more than an average Anglo-American boy coming of age in rural America. But beneath his external appearance, he is different. Unlike his neighbors, Superman can fly, melt steel, and see through walls. And, unlike his neighbors, Superman is an illegal alien.

Thirty-one years before Superman landed in American folklore, the United States Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1907. This law required all immigrants entering the United States to pass through an official port of entry, submit themselves to inspection, and receive official authorization to legally enter the United States. Dropping from the sky and failing to register with the U.S. immigration authorities, Superman entered the United States without authorization. According to U.S. immigration law, the incorruptible leader of the Justice League of America was an illegal immigrant. Yet the tale of Superman evolved free of any hint or consideration of his illegal status. Surely, Superman was just a fantasy and, as such, the character and the narrative were not subject to the basic realities of U.S. immigration restrictions. But in the same years that Superman’s popularity soared, the United States became a nation deeply divided over the issue of illegal immigration. From Congress to school boards, Americans decried what many described as an “immigrant invasion” and a loss of control over the country’s bor-

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