Moving Populations: US-Mexico Border

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1 GEOG1131: Population, Migration & Settlement Tuesday October 20, 2015 Moving Populations: US-Mexico Border Dr. Kevon Rhiney Department of Geography & Geology University of the West Indies - Mona

2 Lecture Outline Introduction: Evolution of US Immigration Laws Extent of Mexico USA migration Understanding the border Push and pull factors Policy features

3 Early years 6,000 a year (numbers are uncertain) French refugees (slave revolt in Haiti) After 1820 federal records were kept - Irish (famine of ) -.5 million Germans 1850 first census to ask for place of birth - 90% of population was native born

4 Timeline of US immigration laws Unrestricted Naturalization Act - Citizenship limited to "free white persons" residing in the US who renounce allegiance to former country 1850s - Emergence of "Know Nothing Party" seeking to "purify" the nation by restricting immigration and altering citizenship requirements (lasted less than 10 years) Chinese Exclusion Act - Fear of competition from Chinese workers led to prevention of any further Chinese entering the US Ellis Island, NY set up to regulate immigration Immigration Act of Further restrictions on immigration, expanding the classes of foreigners excluded from US. It imposed a literacy test and designated an Asiatic Barred Zone.

5 Evolution of US Immigration Laws: 1920s-1950s Quantitative restrictions in the 1920s - First Quota law enacted in 1921 The Immigration Act of Restricted immigration levels to 150,000 person p.a. and had an explicit preference for certain nationalities (Western Europeans) - reduced quotas of immigrants deemed "less desirable", such as Russian (Jews) and Italians (Catholics) Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952 eased the restrictions, while maintaining the national origins premise - Consolidation of immigration laws and abolished Asian Barred Zone. - Race was eliminated as a bar to immigration, all countries were allocated a minimum quota of 100 immigrants

6 Evolution of US Immigration Laws: 1960s-1980s National quotas were replaced in 1965 by a complex system granting priority to the following groups: (i)those with US relatives; (ii) People needed to fill vacant US jobs (iii) Refugees Most immigrants came from LA and Asia instead of Europe Economic Instability during the 1980s retriggered concerns about immigration Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986: (i) increased enforcement along the Mexico-US border (ii) Employer sanctions (iii) Amnesty for long-term undocumented residents (granted lawful permanent residency to over 2.7 mn undocumented immigrants) (iv) special legalization program for agricultural workers

7 Evolution of US Immigration Laws: Post-1980s Immigration levels: avg. 450,000 (1970s); 60,000 (1980s) and 1 million per year (1990s) Legal Immigration Act of 1990: provisions for increased inflow of skilled immigrants to the US - Flexible cap of 675,000 immigrants/year beginning in 1995: (i) 480,000 allocated to family sponsored immigrants (ii) 140,000 for employment-based purposes and (iii) 55,000 to diversity immigrants 1990s focus shifted to illegal immigrants access to welfare e.g. Proposition 187 in1994

8 Immigration policies since 9/11 Increased fear over border security; reconciling labour market demand for immigration control and tightened border security Responsibility for immigration and border control consolidated under the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 2001 Provide Appropriate Toos Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (PATRIOT) Act: (i) expanded the range of offences for deportation (ii) made it easier to detain non-us citizens Controlling unathorized migration remains a major political issue (from no immigrants to no borders)

9 Extent of Mexico USA migration 1990: 4.3 million foreign born from Mexico in USA 2002: 9.9 million foreign born from Mexico in USA 4 million in California, 2.1 million in Texas Mexicans = 3.3% of total US population 11.6% in CA; 9% in Texas; 8.5% in Arizona Est. 11 million illegal immigrants in the USA in 2008 (Centre for Immigration Studies) Approx. 56% were from Mexico

10 What is the Situa+on? There is a 2000km border between USA and Mexico. 1 million + Mexicans migrate to the USA every year. Illegal migration is a huge problem for USA and Mexico US Border Patrol guard the border and try to prevent illegal immigrants 850,000 were caught in 1995 and were deported

11 Foreign-born from Mexico as percentage of total US population (2000)

12

13 Push factors Complex and interlinked Striking disparity in income levels between Mexico and the USA GNP : > $24,750 in USA cf. $3,750 in Mexico Poor medical facilities Limited job opportunities (40% unemployed) Gender inequality Occasionally: fear of persecution

14 Caution! Do not expose your life to the elements. It's not worth it.

15 Tijuana, Mexico

16 People will do anything to cross the border...

17 Pull factors Strength of US economy; many low paid jobs Relatives and friends (provide social network) Improved accessibility to health care Improved educational opportunities (although illegal migrants might find it extremely difficult to access such services)

18 Understanding the border Treaty if Guadeloupe Hidalgo (1848): Mexico lost 40% of its territory; border formalized in current location We didn t cross the border, the border crossed us Many transnational linkages: political, economic, social Borders as barriers Borders as sites of connection Borders as sites of tension (e.g. Zoot Suit Riot circa 1940s)

19

20 Key policy features I Proposition Californian initiative (1994) - Limits access to social services for undocumented migrants - Increased surveillance and policing by local authorities (e.g. school teachers, nurses etc.)

21 Key policy features II Operation Gatekeeper (1994) - Intensified surveillance of the San Diego section of the border - Increased number of US Border Patrol agents - Increased surveillance equipment and different structures

22

23 Useful sites Migration Policy Institute - US Census Bureau -

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