Monday, April 25, 2011

Thomas reviews Hernández on the History of the U.S. Border Patrol

H-Law has posted a review of Kelly Lytle Hernández, Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010).

Here's an excerpt from the review, by William Thomas:

In Migra! Kelly Lytle Hernández, an assistant professor in history at the University of California-Los Angeles, explores the U.S. Border Patrol’s role in curbing unauthorized immigration and enforcing laws along the Mexico-U.S. border. Hernández traces the practices and ideology of the Border Patrol from its creation in the 1920s to the late twentieth century.

She argues that for about the first decade and a half of its existence, the Border Patrol used “physical brutality” on a regular basis to achieve its goals, but she also maintains that in the 1940s, the patrol began to eschew “raw violence” (p. 109). At midcentury, she notes, some in the Border Patrol viewed themselves in part as guardians of immigrants. “In memo after memo,” she writes, “officers shared stories about abuses by farmers, who held migrants captive, paid poverty wages, and provided unsanitary living conditions” (p. 177).
Thomas has some quibbles with the book, but concludes that "it deserves attention from those who study immigration, federal law enforcement, or the American Southwest" because of its attention to the perspectives of various groups (Anglo growers, Mexican Americans, the Border Patrol) on unauthorized immigration.

The full review is here.