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A Brief History of Mexican-American Border Politics

The large influx of immigrants from the south warrants an investigation into the history of Mexican-American border politics.

The first law monitoring the admission of Mexican immigrants within the U.S. began in the 1910s when U.S. armed forces were met with refugees fleeing the Mexican Revolution. World War II shortages later paved the way for more than 4.5 million Mexican men to enter the U.S. as guest workers under the Bracero Program, guaranteeing fair treatment and pay.

However, problems with administration, along with prevalent discrimination against workers and substandard wages, led to immigrant exploitation by profit-driven companies. The U.S. government ended the program in 1964, but the need for cheap migrant labor continues to this day.

In the 1970s, the drug war exacerbated drug trafficking and organized crime in Central America, an area deeply plagued by poverty, gang violence and political instability. In 1993, the U.S. began a campaign of physical deterrence with former President Clinton’s construction of a 14-mile barrier between Tijuana and San Diego. Construction continued under former Presidents Bush and Obama and was established as a cornerstone of Trump’s border wall campaign. Presently, the southern border is approximately 700 miles of fencing accompanied by cameras, drones, aircraft, boats and 3,800 border patrol troops.

With more calls for greater security, it is likely that the presence of law enforcement at the border will increase dramatically in the coming years.

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