US Polices to Restrict Immigration

  • Nestor P RodríguezEmail author
  • Jacqueline Hagan
Part of the Immigrants and Minorities, Politics and Policy book series (IMPP)


The history of US immigration has included both restrictive and expansive phases, and this chapter focuses on the former. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, fear of racial and ethnic demographic change motivated restrictive immigration legislation ranging from the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) to the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act (1924). During the Great Depression, the US Government repatriated almost half a million Mexicans through deportations and less formal pressure. Beginning in the late 1940s, the Border Patrol undertook campaigns in the Southwest against undocumented Mexican migrants, culminating in Operation Wetback in 1954, which removed over a million migrants to Mexico. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 extended amnesty to almost three million undocumented migrants while also creating penalties for employers of the unauthorized. In 1996, legislation such as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) dramatically expanded the grounds for deportation. Nevertheless, many scholars maintain that restrictive immigration measures often fail to deter unauthorized immigrants, and instead of curtailing circular migration the measures encourage informal, extralegal flows.


Undocumented Immigration Undocumented Migrant Mexican Migrant Border Patrol Unauthorized Immigration 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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