The modern debates over the ever-expanding fence along the US– Mexico border and immigration enforcement generally, the proliferation of state and local immigration enforcement measures, and the fear that some Americans express over the “Hispanization” of the United States reveal both anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant sentiment as well as legiti- mate concerns with lawful immigration and immigration controls.

Kevin R. Johnson and Bernard Trujillo (1)
Border Security Today (2)

The present day United States-Mexico border is notorious for undocumented border crossings, constant surveillance by Border Patrol, and endless political discourse. This website will examine the history of the US-Mexico border beginning in the early 20th century to present day to garner a better understanding in the change of border fluidity across time. During the 20th century, the Bracero Program encouraged seasonal migration for Mexican agricultural workers. As a bilateral agreement between the United States and Mexico, approximately “4.6 million contracts were signed, with many individuals returning several times on different contracts, making it the largest U.S. contract labor program” (3). While the Bracero Program represents border fluidity in the mid 20th century, there are still present-day concerns regarding the ethics behind the Braceros’ induction into the program. This website will further the discussion of border fluidity by addressing themes of border crossing and seasonal migration.

Family Separation, 2018.
Jose Luis Gonzalez / The Daily Beast

Given that the United-States-Mexico border today exemplifies political violence and discourse, it is important to understand how the increased violence at the present-day border did not happen over night nor from one administration, but rather from a series of events in which this website will unfold. The two images below represent Mexican migrants enduring on a dangerous journey to travel to the United States.

La Bestia, 2013.
John Moore
The Beast, 2018.
Keith Dannemiller / U.S. News

A history of Mexican immigration into the United States suggests that when it was convenient for the United States to have cheap labor, immigration controls were relaxed without officially changing immigration law.

Sheila L. Steinberg (7)

Which Events Explain the Variation in the Fluidity of the US-Mexico Border Across Time?

  • The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848
  • The Immigration Act, 1924
  • The Undesirable Aliens Act, 1929
  • The Bracero Agreement, 1942-1964
  • Operation Wetback, 1953-1954
  • The Hart-Cellar Act, 1965


  1. ) Johnson, Kevin R., and Bernard Trujillo. “US-Mexico Border Enforcement.” In ​Immigration Law and the U.S.–Mexico Border,​ 169–97. University of Arizona Press, 2011. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt181hx0g.14.
  2. ) “The wall of eyes trained on the US – Mexico border,” 5:22, Vox, September 5, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIY0FF3TE_E
  3. ) “UCLA Labor Center, The Bracero Program.” Accessed April 30, 2020. https://www.labor.ucla.edu/what-we-do/research-tools/the-bracero-program/.
  4. ) Gonzalez, Jose Luis. Trump Administration Has No Idea Whether It Backs Family Separation at the Border. June 18, 2018. https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-trump-administration-has-no-idea-whether-it-backs-family-separation-at-the-border-or-not.
  5. ) Moore, John. Mexico Operations Thwart Child, Family Migrants | 89.3 KPCC. August 6, 2013. https://www.scpr.org/news/2014/08/29/46361/mexico-operations-thwart-child-family-migrants/.
  6. ) Dannemiller, K. 2018, February 6. Irregular migrants atop freight train, ‘La Bestia’ which takes them through Mexico towards the U.S. Retrieved from https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/02/1Dannemiller, Keith. Migrant Deaths along US-Mexico Border Remain High despite Drop in Crossings – UN Agency. February 6, 2018. https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/02/1002101.
  7. ) Steinberg, Sheila L. “Undocumented Immigrants or Illegal Aliens? Southwestern Media Portrayals of Latino Immigrants.” Humboldt Journal of Social Relations 28, no. 1 (2004): 109-33. Accessed May 5, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23263258.