Migra!: A History of the U.S. Border Patrol



Political awareness of the tensions in U.S.-Mexico relations is rising in the twenty-first century; the American history of its treatment of illegal immigrants represents a massive failure of the promises of the American dream. This is the untold history of the United States Border Patrol from its beginnings in 1924 as a small peripheral outfit to its emergence as a large professional police force that continuously draws intense scrutiny and denunciations from political activism groups. To tell this story, MacArthur "Genius" Fellow Kelly Lytle Hernández dug through a gold mine of lost and unseen records and bits of biography stored in garages, closets, an abandoned factory, and in U.S. and Mexican archives. Focusing on the daily challenges of policing the Mexican border and bringing to light unexpected partners and forgotten dynamics, Migra! reveals how the U.S. Border Patrol translated the mandate for comprehensive migration control into a project of policing immigrants and undocumented "aliens" in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

Product Details

University of California Press
Publish Date
May 03, 2010
5.9 X 0.8 X 8.8 inches | 1.1 pounds
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About the Author

Kelly Lytle Hernández is Assistant Professor in the Department of History, Associate Director of the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship.


"Hernandez offers well-documented accounts and analysis that bring considerable value to obtaining a resolution to the problem."--Geri Spieler"New York Journal Of Books" (04/29/2010)
"Migra! stands as a major contribution, successfully revising our understanding of border policing."--Eric Vaughn Meeks"Journal Of American History" (06/20/2011)
"If you had to choose one book as a starting place for an intelligent discussion about immigration issues, you would do well to begin with Migra! by UCLA assistant professor of history Kelly Lytle Hernandez. [It] is surprisingly complex and nuanced."-- (10/14/2010)
"A Useful resource for any scholar seeking to understand the complex dynamics of race, migration, and law in the twentieth century."--Law & History Review (06/08/2011)
"Migra! is undoubtedly a valuable book, especially as a storehouse of information and as an introduction to a new, international perspective on American immigration. Sections of it will undoubtedly become the foundations of research that will continue to broader our understanding many years into the future."-- (04/01/2011)
"An interesting and valuable book."--Historian (12/01/2011)
"A meticulously researched. interesting, and enjoyable book."-- (07/24/2012)
"A thorough and substantive study of the United States Border Patrol, or la migra in colloquial Spanish."--Hispanic Amer Historical Review (08/18/2011)
"The most thorough history of the Border Patrol to date."--George T. Díaz"Southwestern Historical Quarterly" (04/01/2013)