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The Strange Career of the Illegal Alien

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  • The Strange Career of the Illegal Alien

    http://www.shusterman.com/cgi-bin/ex...21.1/ngai.html

    The Strange Career of the Illegal Alien:
    Immigration Restriction and
    Deportation Policy in the
    United States, 1921-1965
    Mae M. Ngai


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In January 1930 officials of the Bureau of Immigration testified about the Border Patrol before a closed session of the House Immigration Committee. Henry Hull, the commissioner general of immigration, explained that the Border Patrol did not operate "on the border line" but as far as one hundred miles "back of the line." The Border Patrol, he said, was "a scouting organization and a pursuit organization. . . . [Officers] operate on roads without warrants and wherever they find an alien they stop him. If he is illegally in the country, they take him to unit headquarters."1
    1
    George Harris, the assistant commissioner general, added that Congress had authorized the Border Patrol to arrest aliens without warrant in 1925. It is true, Harris said, that the law provided for arrest without warrant when an alien "enters in the presence or view . . . of the officer, but this does not necessarily mean that the officer must see the alien at the exact moment that he crosses the border into the United States. Entry is a continuing offense and is not completed . . . until the alien reaches his interior destination."2
    2
    Members of the House committee expressed concern that the Border Patrol, which was not a criminal law enforcement agency and had no statutory authority to execute search warrants, had defined its jurisdiction not just at the border but far into the nation's interior. This might extend not only one or two hundred miles but, theoretically, throughout the entire interior. If, as Hull said, "wherever [officers] find an alien, they stop him," how did the officers know the difference between an alien and a citizen? Indeed, what did it mean that Border Patrol officers could stop, interrogate, and search without a warrant anyone, anywhere, in the United States?
    3
    Yet if Congress was uneasy about the Border Patrol's reach, it had near-ly assured such an outcome when it passed the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924, which for the first time imposed numerical restrictions on immigration. Because illegal entry is a concomitant of restrictive immigration policy, the quota laws stimulated the production of illegal aliens and introduced that problem into the internal spaces of the nation. Although unlawful entry had always resulted from exclusion, in the 1920s illegal immigration achieved mass proportions and deportation assumed a central place in immigration policy. The nature and demands of restriction raised a range of problems for the modern state, which were at once administrative (how should restriction be enforced?), juridical (how is sovereignty defined?), and constitutional (do illegal aliens have rights?).
    4
    These questions had been answered with relative ease in the late nineteenth century, when illegal aliens comprised Chinese and other marginalized persons (such as criminals, the insane, and prostitutes) who could be summarily expelled from the United States. Upholding Chinese exclusion, the Supreme Court in the 1880s and 1890s located Congress's power to regulate immigration outside of the Constitution, in the nation's sovereignty, which power it deemed was absolute. The Court considered this necessary to protect the nation from foreign invasion, whether from armies during wartime or from foreign migrants during peacetime. The doctrine of plenary power privileged the nation's sovereignty absolutely over the rights of individual persons. Thus the Court declared that aliens have no right "to be and remain in this country, except by the license, permission, and sufferance of congress." In the era of numerical restriction, the exercise of this sovereign power over immigrants, especially those illegally present, gave rise to complex and troubling issues.3
    5
    This essay examines the advent of mass illegal immigration and deportation policy under the Immigration Act of 1924 and how these trends altered meanings of inclusion in and exclusion from the nation. It argues that numerical restriction created a new class of persons within the national body--illegal aliens--whose inclusion in the nation was at once a social reality and a legal impossibility. This contradiction challenged received notions of sovereignty and democracy in several ways. First, the increase in the number of illegal entries created a new emphasis on control of the nation's contiguous land borders, which emphasis had not existed before. This new articulation of state territoriality reconstructed national borders and national space in ways that were both highly visible and problematic. At the same time, the notion of border control obscured the policy's unavoidable slippage into the interior.
    6
    Second, the application of the deportation laws gave rise to an oppositional political and legal discourse, which imagined deserving and undeserving illegal immigrants and, concomitantly, just and unjust deportations. These categories were constructed out of modern ideas about social desirability, in particular with regard to crime and sexual morality, and values that esteemed family preservation. Critics argued that deportation was un-just in cases where it separated families or exacted other hardships that were out of proportion to the offense committed. As a result, during the 1930s deportation policy became the object of legal reform to allow for administrative discretion in deportation cases. Just as restriction and deportation "made" illegal aliens, administrative discretion "unmade" illegal aliens.
    7
    Taken together, these trends redefined the normative basis of social desirability and inclusion in the nation. That process had an important racial dimension because the application and reform of deportation policy had disparate effects on Europeans and Canadians, on the one hand, and Mexicans, on the other hand. But, the disparity was not simply the result of existing racism. Rather, the processes of territorial redefinition and administrative enforcement informed divergent paths of immigrant racialization. Europeans and Canadians tended to be disassociated from the real and imagined category of illegal alien, which facilitated their national and racial assimilation as white American citizens. In contrast, Mexicans emerged as iconic illegal aliens. Illegal status became constitutive of a racialized Mexican identity and of Mexicans' exclusion from the national community and polity.
    8

    Deportation Policy and the Making of Illegal Aliens
    The illegal immigrant cannot be constituted without deportation--the possibility or threat of deportation, if not the fact. The possibility derives from the actual existence of state machinery to apprehend and deport illegal aliens. The threat remains in the temporal and spatial "lag" that exists between the act of unlawful entry and apprehension or deportation (if, in fact, the illegal alien is ever caught). The many effects of the lag include the psychological and cultural problems associated with "passing" or "living a lie," community vulnerability and isolation, and the use of undocumented workers as a highly exploited or reserve labor force. Examining the policy and practice of deportation provides us not only with an understanding of how illegal immigration is constituted but also a point of entry into the experience of illegal immigrants, which, by its nature, remains largely invisible to the mainstream of society.4
    9
    Deportation was not invented in the 1920s, but it was then that it came of age. In a sense, legal provisions for the deportation of unwanted immigrants existed in America since colonial times, the principle having been derived from the English poor laws. A 1794 Massachusetts law, for example, called for the return of paupers to their original towns or "to any other State, or to any place beyond sea, where he belongs." The expense of transatlantic removal, however, meant that deportations to Europe rarely took place, if at all. The Alien and Sedition Laws (1798-1801) provided for the exclusion and expulsion of aliens on political grounds. But Americans quickly rejected the principle of political removal during peacetime and the nation operated without federal regulation of immigration for the better part of the nineteenth century. Unfettered migration was crucial for the settlement and industrialization of America, even if the laboring migrants themselves were not always free.5
    10
    In 1875 Congress legislated the first federal restrictions on entry when it banned persons convicted of "crimes involving moral turpitude" and prostitutes (a provision aimed at barring Chinese women from entry). During the 1880s the number of excludable classes grew to comprise the mentally retarded, contract laborers, persons with "dangerous and loathsome contagious disease," paupers, polygamists, and the "feebleminded" and "insane," as well as Chinese laborers. The litany of excludable classes articulated concern over the admission of real and potential public charges as well as late nineteenth-century beliefs, derived from Social Darwinism and criminal anthropology, that the national body had to be protected from the contaminants of social degeneracy.6
    11
    Still, the nation's border were soft and, for the most part, unguarded. Inspection at arrival sought to identify excludable persons and to deny them admission, but little could be done if they evaded detection and entered the country. Subsequent discovery was commonly the result of being hospitalized or imprisoned, yet no federal law existed mandating the removal of alien public charges from the country. It was not until 1891 that Congress authorized the deportation of aliens who within one year of arrival became public charges from causes existing prior to landing, at the expense of the steamship company that originally brought them. Congress otherwise established no mechanism and appropriated no funds for deportation.7
    12
    Congress gradually extended the statute of limitation on deportation. The Immigration Act of 1917 added six excludable categories and harsher sanctions, extended the period of deportability to five years, removed all time limits for aliens in certain classes, and for the first time appropriated funds for the enforcement. The new harsh law was applied to immigrant anarchists and communists in a sweep of postwar vengeance against radicalism and labor militancy, culminating in the Palmer Raids in the winter of 1919-1920 when authorities arrested 10,000 alleged anarchists and ultimately deported some five hundred.8 13
    The Red Scare notwithstanding, few people were actually excluded or deported before the 1920s. Between 1892 and 1907 the Immigration Service deported only a few hundred aliens a year and between 1908 and 1920 an average of two or three thousand a year--mostly aliens removed from asylums, hospitals, and jails. Deportation appears even less significant when one considers that some one million people a year entered the country in the decade preceding World War I. Congress and the Immigration Service conceived of and executed deportation as an adjunct to the process of exclusion, a correction to the improper admission of excludable aliens.9 Perhaps most important, mere entry without inspection was insufficient grounds for deportation. The statute of limitation on deportation was consistent with the general philosophy of the melting pot: it seemed unconscionable to expel immigrants after they had settled in the country and had begun to assimilate.
    14
    A new regime in immigration policy, that of numerical restriction, commenced in the 1920s. This ended the historical policy of open immigration from Europe. Political and economic developments, both national and global, influenced this shift. Anti-alien sentiment in the United States had grown since the mid-1880s, mostly in response to the social problems associated with mass migration from southern and eastern Europe--urban slums, disease, poverty, class conflict. More immediately, World War I had raised nationalism and anti-foreign sentiment to a high pitch. Immigration restriction was a core component of the politics of wartime nationalism and postwar reaction. There were structural influences, as well. By 1920 the system of mass industrial production had matured to a point where increased output derived from technological improvement, not continually increasing inputs of unskilled labor. More broadly, immigration restriction was part of a new global age. World War I marked the consolidation of the international nation-state system, based on Westphalian sovereignty, hardened borders, state citizenship, and passport controls.10
    15
    In 1921 Congress restricted immigration into the United States to 350,000 a year. The Immigration Act of 1924 further restricted immigration to 150,000 a year, less than 15 percent of the average annual immigration of one million before World War I.11 Quotas were allocated to countries in proportion to the numbers that the American people traced their "national origin" to those countries, through immigration or the immigration of their forebears. I have discussed the racial dimensions of the national origin quota system elsewhere.12 Relevant to this discussion is the law's other core feature, numerical restriction, and its concomitants, illegal immigration and deportation.
    16
    The passage of the quota laws marked a turn in both the volume and nature of unlawful entry and in the philosophy and practice of deportation. In general, of course, legislators write laws to include sanctions against their violation. But in the Act of 1924 Congress evinced a wholly different approach toward deportation. The new law eliminated the statute of limitation on deportation for nearly all forms of unlawful entry and provided for the deportation at any time of any person entering after July 1, 1924, without a valid visa or without inspection.13
    17
    In addition, Congress for the first time legislated a serious enforcement mechanism against unlawful entry by creating a land Border Patrol. In 1929 Congress made unlawful entry a misdemeanor, punishable by one year of imprisonment or a $1,000 fine or both; and made a second unlawful entry a felony, punishable by two years imprisonment or a $2,000 fine or both. Deportation thus amounted to permanent banishment under threat of felony prosecution.14
    18
    The criminalization of unauthorized entry signaled a radical departure from previous immigration policy, which deemed deportation to be a civil, or administrative, procedure. That policy deprived aliens in deportation proceedings rights protected by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, but it also protected deportees from criminal punishment.15 The 1929 law made illegal entry a separate criminal offense; in effect, illegal immigrants inherited the worst of both propositions by making them subject to deportation, under which proceedings they still lacked Constitutional protections, and separate criminal prosecution and punishment. Criminal conviction also made future reentry impossible.16
    19
    The Immigration Act of 1924 and its attendant enforcement mechanisms spurred a dramatic increase in the number of deportations. A contemporary observed that the "extensive use of the power to expel" began in 1925 and that deportation quickly became "one of the chief activities of the Immigration Service in some districts." By 1928 the bureau was exhausting its funds for deportations long before the fiscal year ended. Carl Robe White, the assistant secretary of labor, told the House Immigration Committee that the department needed an annual budget of ten million dollars for deportations, more than ten times the appropriation for the previous year.17
    20
    In 1927, in order to make expulsion more efficient, the Immigration Service allowed illegal aliens without criminal records to depart voluntarily, thereby avoiding the time and expense of instituting formal deportation proceedings. The number of aliens expelled from the country rose from 2,762 in 1920 to 9,495 in 1925 and to 38,795 in 1930.18 The Immigration Service continued to deport public charges delivered to it by state institutions. But "aliens without proper visa" rapidly became the largest single class of deportees, representing over half the total number of formal deportations and the overwhelming majority of voluntary departures by the late 1920s.19
    21
    This shift in the principal categories of deportation engendered new ways of thinking about illegal immigration. First, legal and illegal status became, in effect, abstract constructions, having less to do with experience than with numbers and paper. Legal status now rested on being in the right place in the queue--if a country has a quota of N, immigrant N is legal but immigrant N+1 is illegal20 --and having the proper documentation, the prized "proper visa." These were not absolute, of course, as preference categories privileged certain family relations and qualitative indices for exclusion remained in force. However, the qualitative aspects of admission were rendered less visible as they were absorbed by the visa application process, which after 1924 took place at United States consular offices abroad. In addition to overseeing the distribution of quota slots, U.S. consuls determined the desirability of both quota and non-quota prospective migrants according to the submission of a "dossier," questionnaire and interview, and medical certification.21 In 1924 the Immigration Service terminated medical line inspection at Ellis Island because medical exclusions were determined abroad. Thus, upon arrival, immigrants' visas were inspected, not their bodies. The system shifted to a different, more abstract register, which privileged formal status over all else. It is this system that created what we today call the "undocumented immigrant." 22
    The illegal alien that is abstractly defined is thus something of a specter, a body stripped of individual personage, whose very presence is troubling, wrong. Moreover, this body stripped of personage has no rights. It is no coincidence that the regime of immigration restriction emerged with World War I. The war, by simultaneously destroying the geopolitical stability of Europe and solidifying the nation-state system, also created millions of refugees and stateless persons, as well as denationalized and denaturalized persons during the postwar period.22 Recalling Hannah Arendt, philosopher Giorgio Agamben tells us, "In the system of the nation-state, the so-called sacred and inalienable rights of man show themselves to lack every protection and reality at the moment in which they can no longer take the form of rights belonging to citizens of a state." Certainly the illegal alien appears in the same historical moment and in the same juridical no-man's-land that was created when the war loosened the links between birth and nation, human being and citizen.23
    23
    Second, the mere idea that persons without formal legal status resided in the nation engendered images of great danger. In 1925 the Immigration Service reported with some alarm that 1.4 million immigrants--20 percent of those who had entered the country before 1921--might already be living illegally in the United States. The service conceded that these immigrants had lawfully entered the country, but because it had no record of their admission, it considered them illegal. It warned,


    24
    (I)t is quite possible that there is an even greater number of aliens in the country whose legal presence here could not be established. No estimate could be made as to the number of smuggled aliens who have been unlawfully introduced into the country since the quota restrictions of 1921, or of those who may have entered under the guise of seamen. The figures presented are worthy of very serious thought, especially when it is considered that there is such a great percentage of our population . . . whose first act upon reaching our shores was to break our laws by entering in a clandestine manner--all of which serves to emphasize the potential source of trouble, not to say menace, that such a situation suggests.24

    Positive law thus constituted undocumented immigrants as criminals, both fulfilling and fueling nativist discourse. Once nativism succeeded in legislating restriction, anti-alien animus shifted its focus to the interior of the nation and the goal of expelling immigrants living illegally in the country. The Los Angeles Evening Express alleged that there were "several million foreigners" in the country who had "no right to be here." Nativists like Madison Grant, recognizing that deportation was "of great importance," also advocated alien registration "as a necessary prelude to deport on a large scale." Critics of nativism predicted that "if every man who wears a beard and reads a foreign newspaper is to be suspected unless he can produce either an identification card or naturalization papers, we shall have more confusion and bungling than ever." 25
    Prohibition supplied an important cache of criminal tropes, the language of smuggling directly yoking illegal immigration to liquor-running. The California Joint Immigration Committee described illegal aliens as "vicious and criminal," comprising "bootleggers, gangsters, and racketeers of large cities."26 Similarly, Edwin Reeves, a Border Patrol officer in El Paso during the 1920s, recalled, "Every fellow you caught with a load of liquor on his back . . . was a wetback." The National Republic claimed that two million aliens intent upon illegally entering the United States were massed in Canada, Mexico, and Cuba, on the "waiting lists" of smugglers.27
    25
    In this story, aliens were not only subjects--that is, the smugglers--they were also the objects, the human goods illegally trafficked across the border. In 1927 the Immigration Bureau reported that the "bootlegging of aliens" was "a lucrative industry second only to smuggling of liquor." It emphasized, "The bootlegged alien is by all odds the least desirable. Whatever else may be said of him: whether he be diseased or not, whether he holds views inimical to our institutions, he at best is a law violator from the outset."28 This view that the undocumented immigrant was the least desirable alien of all denotes a new imagining of the nation, which situated the principle of national sovereignty in the foreground. It made state territoriality--not labor needs, not family unification, not freedom from persecution, not assimilation--the engine of immigration policy.
    26
    Territoriality was highly unstable, however, precisely because restriction had created illegal immigrants within the national body. This was not an entirely new phenomenon, but important consequences resulted from the different nature and scale of illegal immigration in the late 1920s. Illegal immigrants now comprised all nationality and ethnic groups. They were numerous, perhaps even innumerable, and were diffused throughout the nation, particularly in large cities. An illegal immigrant might now be anyone's neighbor or coworker, even one's spouse or parent. Her illegal status might not be known to her social acquaintances and personal intimates. She might not even be aware of it herself, particularly if it resulted from a technical violation of the law. She might, in fact, be a responsible member of society (employed, tax paying, and, notwithstanding her illegal status, lawabiding). Even if she were indigent or uneducated, she might have a family, social ties in a community, and interact with others in ways that arguably established her as a member of society.
    27
    The problem of differentiating illegal immigrants from citizens and legal immigrants signified the danger that restrictionists had imagined--to them, illegal aliens were an invisible enemy in America's midst. Yet their proposed solutions, such as compulsory alien registration and mass deportations, were problematic exactly because undocumented immigrants were so like other Americans. During the interwar period a majority of political opinion opposed alien registration on grounds that it threatened Americans' perceived rights of free movement, association, and privacy.29 The Immigration Service had traditionally "never made any considerable attempt . . . to go out and look for aliens unlawfully in the country" and through the late 1920s remained reluctant to conduct mass raids, particularly in the north.30 The problem of differentiation revealed a discontinuity between illegal immigration as an abstract general problem, a "scare" discourse used at times to great political effect, and illegal immigrants who were real people known in the community, people who had committed no substantive wrongs.
    28
    Yet, if illegal aliens were so like other Americans, the racial and ethnic diversity of the American population further complicated the problem of differentiation. We might anticipate that illegal aliens from Europe and Canada were perceived and treated differently from those of Mexican or Asian origin.31 In fact, the racial dimensions of deportation policy were not merely expressions of existing racial prejudice. Rather, they derived from processes of territoriality and administrative enforcement that were not in the first instance motivated or defined by race.
    29
    We might approach this problem by considering the question of defining and controlling the border and by returning to Commissioner Hull's testimony that the Border Patrol did not operate "on the border line" but "back of the line." Contemporaries understood the distinction, if not the full implications. Writing about the Border Patrol in the Southwest, one author described apprehending aliens "at some distance back from the International Line" a "man-sized job." She explained, "To capture an alien who is in the act of crawling through a hole in the fence between Arizona and Mexico is easy compared with apprehending and deporting him after he is hidden in the interior, among others of his own race who are legally in this country."32 The Border Patrol's capacious definition of its jurisdiction suggests that the nation's borders (the point of exclusion) collapsed into and became indistinguishable from the interior (the space of inclusion). But, this is not to say that the border was eliminated. Policies of restriction and deportation reconstructed and raised the borders, even as they destabilized them. History and policy also constructed the U.S.-Mexican and U.S.-Canadian borders differently. The processes of defining and policing the border both encoded and generated racial ideas and practices that, in turn, produced different racialized spaces internal to the nation.
    30

    The Border and the Border Patrol

    Before the 1920s the Immigration Service paid little attention to the nation's land borders because the overwhelming majority of immigrants landed at Ellis Island and other seaports. The flow of immigrants into the country had been not only welcome but had been focused at fixed points that rendered land borders invisible. One immigration director described the situation as the "equivalent to a circle with locked doors with no connecting wall between them."33 A small force of the Customs Service and the Chinese Division of the Immigration Service jointly patrolled the Mexican and Canadian borders against illegal entry by Chinese. The Chinese patrol inspector, assigned to horseback detail or inspecting freight cars, occupied the loneliest and bottommost position in the hierarchy of the service.34
    31
    Immigration inspectors ignored Mexicans coming into the southwestern United States during the 1900s and 1910s to work in railroad construction, mining, and agriculture. The Immigration Bureau did not seriously consider Mexican immigration within its purview, but rather as something that was "regulated by labor market demands in [the southwestern] border states." The Bureau also described the Southwest as the "natural habitat" of Mexicans, acknowledging, albeit strangely, Mexicans' claims of belonging in an area that had once been part of Mexico. The Immigration Act of 1917 doubled the head tax and imposed a literacy test, erecting the first barriers to entry. But unlawful entry was limited, as the Labor Department exempted Mexicans from the requirements during the war. It was not until 1919 that Mexicans entering the United States were required to apply for admission at lawfully designated ports of entry.35
    32
    Before World War I, the U.S.-Canada border was also soft. In some ways it resembled the Mexican border: vast stretches were sparsely populated, economically undeveloped, and intemperate for many months of the year. As with the Mexican border, the first inspection policies instituted along the Canadian border in the 1890s aimed not to restrict Canadians but to deter Chinese and Europeans of the excludable classes who sought entry into the United States through the unguarded back door.36 Throughout the nineteenth century, Canadians moved freely into the United States: Canadian farmers participated in the settlement of the American West, which movement preceded expansion to the Canadian West; and industry and manufacturing in Michigan and New England drew labor from Canada as well as from Europe.37 But Canadians assumed a different economic relationship to the United States than did Mexicans. In general Canadians did not comprise a major source of unskilled labor for American industry, largely because Canada itself suffered a labor shortage and relied on immigrant labor for its own economic development. For example, in the early twentieth century the sugar beet industry on both sides of the border--in Michigan, Wisconsin, and southern Ontario--recruited European agricultural laborers. After 1924, when European immigration to the United States declined, American sugar beet growers resorted not to Canadian labor but to Mexican and, secondarily, to Filipino labor.38
    33
    If both the Mexican and Canadian borders were soft until World War I, the passage of the quota laws in 1921 and 1924 threw the nation's contiguous land borders into sharp relief for immigration authorities. Although most European immigrants continued to land at seaports, contemporaries imagined that illegal aliens would overrun the land borders. One writer, believing that "the tide of immigration now beats upon the land bordersnot upon the sea coasts--of the United States," asked, "can these long borders ever be adequately patrolled?"39
    34
    Indeed, illegal European immigrants entered the United States across both borders. Belgian, Dutch, Swiss, Russian, Bulgarian, Italian, and Polish immigrants enlisted in agricultural labor programs in the Canadian west, only to arrive in Canada and immediately attempt entry into the United States, at points from Ontario to Manitoba. An investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1925 reported that "thousands" of immigrants, "mostly late arrivals from Europe," were "coming [into Canada] as fast as they can get the money to pay the smugglers." The most heavily traveled route for illegal European immigration was through Mexico. The commissioner general of immigration noted, "Long established routes from southern Europe to Mexican ports and overland to the Texas border, formerly patronized almost exclusively by diseased and criminal aliens, are now resorted to by large numbers of Europeans who cannot gain legal admission because of passport difficulties, illiteracy, or the quota law."40
    35
    By the late 1920s the surreptitious entry of Europeans into the United States declined. The threat of apprehension and deportation deterred some, but also alternate legal methods existed for circumventing the quota laws. Europeans could go to Canada and be admitted to United States legally after they had resided in Canada for five years. The evidence suggests that this was a popular strategy: the proportion of lawful admissions from Canada of persons not born in Canada increased from 20 percent in 1925 to over 50 percent in the early 1930s.41 And, as European immigrants in the United States became naturalized citizens, they could bring relatives over legally as non-quota immigrants. In 1927 over 60 percent of the non-quota immigrants admitted to the U.S. were from Italy, with the next largest groups coming from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Greece.42
    36
    This is not to say that illegal immigration of Europeans and Canadians stopped. The Immigration Service continued to deport illegal aliens to Europe and to Canada--deportations remained fairly constant at 6,000 to 8,000 a year through the early thirties. But the number of persons deported for surreptitious entry declined whereas the number deported for overstaying temporary visas increased.43 In general, the Immigration Service was more concerned with the bureaucratic burden of processing the high volume of legal traffic crossing the U.S.-Canada border in both directions. It also re-lied on the 1894 agreement between the United States and Canada, which made Canadian rail carriers responsible for checking the status of passengers traveling to the United States, for deterring illegal entry from Canada.44
    37
    The service's work on the Canadian border was in sharp contrast to what the commissioner general described as the "high pitch" of its work along the U.S.-Mexico border.45 During the late 1920s the number of illegal Mexican immigrants deported across the southern border skyrocketed-from 1,751 expulsions in 1925 to over 15,000 in 1929.46 Deportations for entry without a proper visa accounted for most of the increase. Although Mexicans did not face quota restrictions, they nevertheless were confronted by myriad entry requirements, such as the head tax and visa fee, which impelled many to avoid formal admission and inspection.
    38
    Mexicans coming to the United States encountered a new kind of border. Notwithstanding the lax immigration procedures before World War I, the United States-Mexican border had had a long history of dispute. Born of war and annexation, it was contested literally from its first imagination, by the Mexican and American surveyors charged with drawing the boundary after the Mexican American war. Consolidating American sovereignty in the conquered territory was a protracted process, as armed skirmishes and rebellion along the border attended the appropriation of property and the imposition of American political institutions. After a decade of instability wrought by the Mexican Revolution and World War I, the border as a political marker became basically settled.47
    39
    During the 1920s immigration policy rearticulated the U.S.-Mexican border as a cultural and racial boundary, as a creator of illegal immigration. Federal officials self-consciously understood their task as creating a barrier where, in a practical sense, none had existed before. The service instituted new policies--new inspection procedures and the formation of the Border Patrol--that accentuated the difference between the two countries. As historian George Sánchez described, crossing the border became "a momentous occasion, a break from the past . . . a painful and abrupt event permeated by an atmosphere of racism and control--an event that clearly demarcated one society from another."48
    40
    Inspection at the Mexican border involved a degrading procedure of bathing, delousing, medical line inspection, and interrogation. The baths were new and unique to Mexican immigrants, requiring them to be inspected while naked, have their hair shorn, and have their clothing and baggage fumigated. Medical line inspection, modeled after the practice formerly used at Ellis Island, required immigrants to walk in single file past a medical officer.49 These procedures were particularly humiliating, even gratuitous, in light of the fact that the Immigration Act of 1924 required prospective immigrants to present a medical certificate to the U.S. consul when applying for a visa, that is, before travel to the United States. Medical line inspection at Ellis Island was eliminated after 1924, and at El Paso the service exempted all Europeans and Mexicans arriving by first class rail from medical line inspection, the baths, and the literacy test. Racial presumptions about Mexican laborers, not law, dictated the procedures at the Mexican border.
    41
    More than anything else, the formation of the Border Patrol raised the border. In the Mexican border district, the service first recruited patrol officers from the civil service railway postal clerk registers, but that proved to be a mistake, as they were generally unqualified and the service quickly exhausted the register.50 Receiving a temporary reprieve from civil service requirements, the service hired former cowboys, skilled workers, and small ranchers as its first patrol officers. Almost all were young, many had military experience, and not a few associated with the Ku Klux Klan. "Dogie" Wright was a typical recruit. The son of a Texas Ranger, Wright had also been a ranger and a deputy United States marshal before he joined the Border Patrol in 1925.51 Some patrolmen, according to Clifford Perkins, the first Border Patrol inspector in charge in El Paso, "were a little too quick with a gun, or given to drinking too much, too often"; many emulated the "rough but effective methods of the Texas Rangers."52 Of thirty-four patrol inspectors in the El Paso district in 1927, only one was Mexican American. Pedro (Pete) Torres, a native of New Mexico, had a reputation as an "extremely valuable man on the river, for he thought like a Mexican and looked like one" and could "roam through Mexican neighborhoods without arousing suspicion." Torres had "no nerves at all," according to Perkins. "He may have been a little quick on the trigger, but his actions in every shooting match during which smugglers were killed always proved justified by the circumstances."53
    42
    Officials labored to create a professional enforcement arm of the Immigration Service out of such material. Perkins recalled a training program comprising weekly lectures on investigative procedures, but training mostly took place on the job. Edwin Reeves said, "they just give you a .45 single action revolver with a web belt--and that was it." A civil service exam was soon instituted, which included math, writing an English essay, and demonstrating knowledge of Spanish "as spoken along the Mexican border." During the late 1920s turnover continued to average 25 percent within the first six months. A lack of professionalism plagued the force. In the El Paso district, drinking on the job, reading and socializing with friends while on duty, reckless driving, rumor mongering, and accepting gratuities from aliens were common problems.54 43
    More important than unprofessional behavior, the Border Patrol's work assumed the character of criminal pursuit and apprehension, although officially it was charged with enforcing civil and not criminal laws and was not trained as a criminal enforcement agency. As discussed above, the service interpreted its authorization to apprehend illegal aliens without warrant to apply to anywhere within the interior of the nation. It also seized goods it believed were "obviously contraband or smuggled," a practice that the commissioner general acknowledged had dubious legal sanction.55 During the Border Patrol's first five years of service, fifteen officers were killed in the line of duty, twelve in the Mexican border districts.56 44
    As Border Patrol officers zealously pursued illegal aliens, smugglers, and criminals, the Immigration Service received complaints from white Americans who were interrogated by discourteous patrolmen or arrested without warrant. One citizen protested that the Border Patrol "enacted the role of Jesse James" on public highways. In 1929, in response to such adverse criticism, the service discontinued the "promiscuous halting of traffic" in the border area, acknowledging that it was "dangerous and probably illegal." A national conference of immigration commissioners and district directors held the same year devoted considerable attention to the conduct of Border Patrol officers and inspectors, including the lack of civility toward immigrants, bribery, and covering up misconduct. Official policy deemed "courtesy and consideration"--"good morning and a smile" and "I'm sorry"--as the "least expensive and perhaps the most useful" of the service's tools.57 45
    Thus patrolmen were trained to act with civility, courtesy, and formality when dealing with Anglo citizens, ranch owners, immigrants arriving from Europe, and "high class tourists" from Canada.58 But the quasi- and extralegal practices associated with rancher vigilantism and Texas Rangers suited the needs of the Border Patrol in the Southwest, particularly when it involved patrolling large expanses of uninhabited territory far removed from Wash-ington's bureaucratic oversight.59 The Border Patrol functioned within an environment of increased racial hostility against Mexicans; indeed, its activities helped constitute that environment by aggressively apprehending and deporting increasing numbers of Mexicans. The Border Patrol interrogated Mexican laborers on roads and in towns, and it was not uncommon for "sweeps" to apprehend several hundred immigrants at a time. By the early 1930s the service was apprehending nearly five times as many suspected illegal aliens in the Mexican border area as it did in the Canadian border area. The Los Angeles newspaper La Opinión believed the aggressive deportation policy would result in a "de-Mexicanization of southern California."60 46
    Moreover, many Mexicans entered the United States through a variety of means that were not illegal but comprised irregular, unstable categories of lawful admission, making it more difficult to distinguish between those who were lawfully in the country and those who were not. Mexicans living in Mexican border towns who commuted into the United States to work on a daily or weekly basis constituted one category of irregular entry. The service counted these commuters as immigrants and collected a one-time head tax from them. It also required them to report to the immigration station once a week for bathing, a hated requirement that gave rise to a local black market in bathing certificates.61 47
    Many other Mexicans entered legally as "temporary visitors" to work for an agricultural season and then returned to Mexico. According to one estimate, 20 to 30 percent of legal Mexican entrants during the 1920s and 1930s were classified as nonimmigrants--that is, as nonresident aliens intending to stay from six months to a year. The service did not require a passport or visa for such entry from Canada, Mexico, or Cuba, as part of a reciprocal arrangement with those countries. That policy served Americans with business in neighboring countries but was also available to seasonal laborers working in the United States. They had only to pay a refundable head tax. If they failed to depart within the time limit, they became illegal.62 Immigration policy had thus constructed classifications of entry that supported local and regional labor markets but that were also perceived as opportunities for illegal immigration. The instability of these immigration categories made officials increasingly suspicious of Mexican immigrants. 48
    It was ironic that Mexicans became so associated with illegal immigration because, unlike Europeans, they were not subject to numerical quotas and, unlike Asiatics, they were not excluded as racially ineligible to citizen-ship. But as numerical restriction assumed primacy in immigration policy, its enforcement aspects--inspection procedures, deportation, the Border Patrol, criminal prosecution, and irregular categories of immigration--created many thousands of illegal Mexican immigrants. The undocumented Mexican laborer who crossed the border to work in the burgeoning industry of commercial agriculture emerged as the prototypical illegal alien. 49

    Administrative Law Reform and the Unmaking of Illegal Aliens
    The illegal aliens deported during the late 1920s and early 1930s comprised both unauthorized border crossers and visa violators and those who entered lawfully but committed a deportable offense subsequent to entry. Each category included immigrants who had already settled in the country and acquired jobs, property, and families. These illegal immigrants had in effect become members of American society. But if their inclusion in the nation was a social reality, it was also a legal impossibility. Resolving that contradiction by means of deportation caused hardship and suffering to these immigrants and their families. It struck many as simply unjust. 50
    Testifying before Congress in 1934, Nicholas Grisanti of the Federation of Italian Societies in Buffalo, New York, cited a typical case of an unjust deportation. An Italian immigrant had lived most of his life in Buffalo. He was married with three small children and was gainfully employed. But, Grisanti explained, "at some previous year he had taken as a boy a half bag of coal from the railroad tracks to help keep his family warm," for which crime he was convicted and given a suspended sentence. Years later, he went to Canada for a summer vacation. The Immigration Service considered his return a "new entry" and ordered him deported, on grounds that he had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude before "time of entry." His deportation was thwarted after a public outcry led acting New York Governor Herbert Lehman to pardon the "little offensive."63 51
    In a sense, the protest against unjust deportations stemmed from the fact that European and Canadian immigrants had come face-to-face with a system that had historically evolved to justify arbitrary and summary treatment of Chinese and other Asian immigrants. It seemed that the warning sounded by Justice Brewer's dissent in Fong Yue Ting had come true. Justice Brewer had acknowledged that the absolute power of the state to expel unwanted aliens was "directed only against the obnoxious Chinese, but," he asked, "if the power exists, who shall say it will not be exercised tomorrow against other classes and other people?"64 52
    Indeed, as early as 1920, in the aftermath of the Palmer Raids, legal scholars noted that alleged anarchists in deportation proceedings were deprived of their civil liberties according to the "methods applied in the Chinese deportation cases."65 After 1924, not only anarchists but also Europeans who unlawfully entered the country were caught in the legal machinery designed for the "obnoxious Chinese." 53
    Thus during the late 1920s and early 1930s a critique of deportation policy emerged among social welfare advocates and legal reformers. They did not directly challenge deportation as a prerogative of the nation's sovereign power, but they did search for ways to reconcile conflicting imperatives of national sovereignty and individual rights. During the early 1930s several legal studies called for administrative law reform in deportation. These included Deportation of Aliens from the United States to Europe, by Jane Perry Clark, a Barnard political scientist; a report on deportation by the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement (Wicker-sham Commission); and Administrative Control of Aliens: A Study in Administrative Law and Procedures, by William Van Vleck, dean of George Washington University Law School. All three studies based their findings on an examination of actual deportation cases and other administrative records of the Immigration Service.66 54
    Clark, Van Vleck, and the Wickersham Commission reached essentially the same two general conclusions. First, they believed deportation policy was applied in arbitrary and unnecessarily harsh ways, resulting in great personal hardship on individuals and in the separation of families, with no social benefit. Second, in terms of procedure, they concluded that deportation policy frequently operated in the breach of established traditions of Anglo American jurisprudence, especially those concerning judicial review and due process. As Lucy Salyer has shown, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the federal courts generally upheld the summary character of immigration proceedings. This was despite the principle established by the Supreme Court in 1903 in the Japanese Immigrant Case that aliens in immigration proceedings had rights derived from "fundamental principles that inhere in due process of law." By the 1920s aliens had won only a few procedural rights, among them the right to an administrative hearing and the right to counsel.67 But critics found even these gravely lacking, or undermined by the lack of other procedural safeguards, and cited a broad range of abuses. The Wickersham Commission noted the danger at hand: "Th

  • #2
    http://www.shusterman.com/cgi-bin/ex...21.1/ngai.html

    The Strange Career of the Illegal Alien:
    Immigration Restriction and
    Deportation Policy in the
    United States, 1921-1965
    Mae M. Ngai


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In January 1930 officials of the Bureau of Immigration testified about the Border Patrol before a closed session of the House Immigration Committee. Henry Hull, the commissioner general of immigration, explained that the Border Patrol did not operate "on the border line" but as far as one hundred miles "back of the line." The Border Patrol, he said, was "a scouting organization and a pursuit organization. . . . [Officers] operate on roads without warrants and wherever they find an alien they stop him. If he is illegally in the country, they take him to unit headquarters."1
    1
    George Harris, the assistant commissioner general, added that Congress had authorized the Border Patrol to arrest aliens without warrant in 1925. It is true, Harris said, that the law provided for arrest without warrant when an alien "enters in the presence or view . . . of the officer, but this does not necessarily mean that the officer must see the alien at the exact moment that he crosses the border into the United States. Entry is a continuing offense and is not completed . . . until the alien reaches his interior destination."2
    2
    Members of the House committee expressed concern that the Border Patrol, which was not a criminal law enforcement agency and had no statutory authority to execute search warrants, had defined its jurisdiction not just at the border but far into the nation's interior. This might extend not only one or two hundred miles but, theoretically, throughout the entire interior. If, as Hull said, "wherever [officers] find an alien, they stop him," how did the officers know the difference between an alien and a citizen? Indeed, what did it mean that Border Patrol officers could stop, interrogate, and search without a warrant anyone, anywhere, in the United States?
    3
    Yet if Congress was uneasy about the Border Patrol's reach, it had near-ly assured such an outcome when it passed the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924, which for the first time imposed numerical restrictions on immigration. Because illegal entry is a concomitant of restrictive immigration policy, the quota laws stimulated the production of illegal aliens and introduced that problem into the internal spaces of the nation. Although unlawful entry had always resulted from exclusion, in the 1920s illegal immigration achieved mass proportions and deportation assumed a central place in immigration policy. The nature and demands of restriction raised a range of problems for the modern state, which were at once administrative (how should restriction be enforced?), juridical (how is sovereignty defined?), and constitutional (do illegal aliens have rights?).
    4
    These questions had been answered with relative ease in the late nineteenth century, when illegal aliens comprised Chinese and other marginalized persons (such as criminals, the insane, and prostitutes) who could be summarily expelled from the United States. Upholding Chinese exclusion, the Supreme Court in the 1880s and 1890s located Congress's power to regulate immigration outside of the Constitution, in the nation's sovereignty, which power it deemed was absolute. The Court considered this necessary to protect the nation from foreign invasion, whether from armies during wartime or from foreign migrants during peacetime. The doctrine of plenary power privileged the nation's sovereignty absolutely over the rights of individual persons. Thus the Court declared that aliens have no right "to be and remain in this country, except by the license, permission, and sufferance of congress." In the era of numerical restriction, the exercise of this sovereign power over immigrants, especially those illegally present, gave rise to complex and troubling issues.3
    5
    This essay examines the advent of mass illegal immigration and deportation policy under the Immigration Act of 1924 and how these trends altered meanings of inclusion in and exclusion from the nation. It argues that numerical restriction created a new class of persons within the national body--illegal aliens--whose inclusion in the nation was at once a social reality and a legal impossibility. This contradiction challenged received notions of sovereignty and democracy in several ways. First, the increase in the number of illegal entries created a new emphasis on control of the nation's contiguous land borders, which emphasis had not existed before. This new articulation of state territoriality reconstructed national borders and national space in ways that were both highly visible and problematic. At the same time, the notion of border control obscured the policy's unavoidable slippage into the interior.
    6
    Second, the application of the deportation laws gave rise to an oppositional political and legal discourse, which imagined deserving and undeserving illegal immigrants and, concomitantly, just and unjust deportations. These categories were constructed out of modern ideas about social desirability, in particular with regard to crime and sexual morality, and values that esteemed family preservation. Critics argued that deportation was un-just in cases where it separated families or exacted other hardships that were out of proportion to the offense committed. As a result, during the 1930s deportation policy became the object of legal reform to allow for administrative discretion in deportation cases. Just as restriction and deportation "made" illegal aliens, administrative discretion "unmade" illegal aliens.
    7
    Taken together, these trends redefined the normative basis of social desirability and inclusion in the nation. That process had an important racial dimension because the application and reform of deportation policy had disparate effects on Europeans and Canadians, on the one hand, and Mexicans, on the other hand. But, the disparity was not simply the result of existing racism. Rather, the processes of territorial redefinition and administrative enforcement informed divergent paths of immigrant racialization. Europeans and Canadians tended to be disassociated from the real and imagined category of illegal alien, which facilitated their national and racial assimilation as white American citizens. In contrast, Mexicans emerged as iconic illegal aliens. Illegal status became constitutive of a racialized Mexican identity and of Mexicans' exclusion from the national community and polity.
    8

    Deportation Policy and the Making of Illegal Aliens
    The illegal immigrant cannot be constituted without deportation--the possibility or threat of deportation, if not the fact. The possibility derives from the actual existence of state machinery to apprehend and deport illegal aliens. The threat remains in the temporal and spatial "lag" that exists between the act of unlawful entry and apprehension or deportation (if, in fact, the illegal alien is ever caught). The many effects of the lag include the psychological and cultural problems associated with "passing" or "living a lie," community vulnerability and isolation, and the use of undocumented workers as a highly exploited or reserve labor force. Examining the policy and practice of deportation provides us not only with an understanding of how illegal immigration is constituted but also a point of entry into the experience of illegal immigrants, which, by its nature, remains largely invisible to the mainstream of society.4
    9
    Deportation was not invented in the 1920s, but it was then that it came of age. In a sense, legal provisions for the deportation of unwanted immigrants existed in America since colonial times, the principle having been derived from the English poor laws. A 1794 Massachusetts law, for example, called for the return of paupers to their original towns or "to any other State, or to any place beyond sea, where he belongs." The expense of transatlantic removal, however, meant that deportations to Europe rarely took place, if at all. The Alien and Sedition Laws (1798-1801) provided for the exclusion and expulsion of aliens on political grounds. But Americans quickly rejected the principle of political removal during peacetime and the nation operated without federal regulation of immigration for the better part of the nineteenth century. Unfettered migration was crucial for the settlement and industrialization of America, even if the laboring migrants themselves were not always free.5
    10
    In 1875 Congress legislated the first federal restrictions on entry when it banned persons convicted of "crimes involving moral turpitude" and prostitutes (a provision aimed at barring Chinese women from entry). During the 1880s the number of excludable classes grew to comprise the mentally retarded, contract laborers, persons with "dangerous and loathsome contagious disease," paupers, polygamists, and the "feebleminded" and "insane," as well as Chinese laborers. The litany of excludable classes articulated concern over the admission of real and potential public charges as well as late nineteenth-century beliefs, derived from Social Darwinism and criminal anthropology, that the national body had to be protected from the contaminants of social degeneracy.6
    11
    Still, the nation's border were soft and, for the most part, unguarded. Inspection at arrival sought to identify excludable persons and to deny them admission, but little could be done if they evaded detection and entered the country. Subsequent discovery was commonly the result of being hospitalized or imprisoned, yet no federal law existed mandating the removal of alien public charges from the country. It was not until 1891 that Congress authorized the deportation of aliens who within one year of arrival became public charges from causes existing prior to landing, at the expense of the steamship company that originally brought them. Congress otherwise established no mechanism and appropriated no funds for deportation.7
    12
    Congress gradually extended the statute of limitation on deportation. The Immigration Act of 1917 added six excludable categories and harsher sanctions, extended the period of deportability to five years, removed all time limits for aliens in certain classes, and for the first time appropriated funds for the enforcement. The new harsh law was applied to immigrant anarchists and communists in a sweep of postwar vengeance against radicalism and labor militancy, culminating in the Palmer Raids in the winter of 1919-1920 when authorities arrested 10,000 alleged anarchists and ultimately deported some five hundred.8 13
    The Red Scare notwithstanding, few people were actually excluded or deported before the 1920s. Between 1892 and 1907 the Immigration Service deported only a few hundred aliens a year and between 1908 and 1920 an average of two or three thousand a year--mostly aliens removed from asylums, hospitals, and jails. Deportation appears even less significant when one considers that some one million people a year entered the country in the decade preceding World War I. Congress and the Immigration Service conceived of and executed deportation as an adjunct to the process of exclusion, a correction to the improper admission of excludable aliens.9 Perhaps most important, mere entry without inspection was insufficient grounds for deportation. The statute of limitation on deportation was consistent with the general philosophy of the melting pot: it seemed unconscionable to expel immigrants after they had settled in the country and had begun to assimilate.
    14
    A new regime in immigration policy, that of numerical restriction, commenced in the 1920s. This ended the historical policy of open immigration from Europe. Political and economic developments, both national and global, influenced this shift. Anti-alien sentiment in the United States had grown since the mid-1880s, mostly in response to the social problems associated with mass migration from southern and eastern Europe--urban slums, disease, poverty, class conflict. More immediately, World War I had raised nationalism and anti-foreign sentiment to a high pitch. Immigration restriction was a core component of the politics of wartime nationalism and postwar reaction. There were structural influences, as well. By 1920 the system of mass industrial production had matured to a point where increased output derived from technological improvement, not continually increasing inputs of unskilled labor. More broadly, immigration restriction was part of a new global age. World War I marked the consolidation of the international nation-state system, based on Westphalian sovereignty, hardened borders, state citizenship, and passport controls.10
    15
    In 1921 Congress restricted immigration into the United States to 350,000 a year. The Immigration Act of 1924 further restricted immigration to 150,000 a year, less than 15 percent of the average annual immigration of one million before World War I.11 Quotas were allocated to countries in proportion to the numbers that the American people traced their "national origin" to those countries, through immigration or the immigration of their forebears. I have discussed the racial dimensions of the national origin quota system elsewhere.12 Relevant to this discussion is the law's other core feature, numerical restriction, and its concomitants, illegal immigration and deportation.
    16
    The passage of the quota laws marked a turn in both the volume and nature of unlawful entry and in the philosophy and practice of deportation. In general, of course, legislators write laws to include sanctions against their violation. But in the Act of 1924 Congress evinced a wholly different approach toward deportation. The new law eliminated the statute of limitation on deportation for nearly all forms of unlawful entry and provided for the deportation at any time of any person entering after July 1, 1924, without a valid visa or without inspection.13
    17
    In addition, Congress for the first time legislated a serious enforcement mechanism against unlawful entry by creating a land Border Patrol. In 1929 Congress made unlawful entry a misdemeanor, punishable by one year of imprisonment or a $1,000 fine or both; and made a second unlawful entry a felony, punishable by two years imprisonment or a $2,000 fine or both. Deportation thus amounted to permanent banishment under threat of felony prosecution.14
    18
    The criminalization of unauthorized entry signaled a radical departure from previous immigration policy, which deemed deportation to be a civil, or administrative, procedure. That policy deprived aliens in deportation proceedings rights protected by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, but it also protected deportees from criminal punishment.15 The 1929 law made illegal entry a separate criminal offense; in effect, illegal immigrants inherited the worst of both propositions by making them subject to deportation, under which proceedings they still lacked Constitutional protections, and separate criminal prosecution and punishment. Criminal conviction also made future reentry impossible.16
    19
    The Immigration Act of 1924 and its attendant enforcement mechanisms spurred a dramatic increase in the number of deportations. A contemporary observed that the "extensive use of the power to expel" began in 1925 and that deportation quickly became "one of the chief activities of the Immigration Service in some districts." By 1928 the bureau was exhausting its funds for deportations long before the fiscal year ended. Carl Robe White, the assistant secretary of labor, told the House Immigration Committee that the department needed an annual budget of ten million dollars for deportations, more than ten times the appropriation for the previous year.17
    20
    In 1927, in order to make expulsion more efficient, the Immigration Service allowed illegal aliens without criminal records to depart voluntarily, thereby avoiding the time and expense of instituting formal deportation proceedings. The number of aliens expelled from the country rose from 2,762 in 1920 to 9,495 in 1925 and to 38,795 in 1930.18 The Immigration Service continued to deport public charges delivered to it by state institutions. But "aliens without proper visa" rapidly became the largest single class of deportees, representing over half the total number of formal deportations and the overwhelming majority of voluntary departures by the late 1920s.19
    21
    This shift in the principal categories of deportation engendered new ways of thinking about illegal immigration. First, legal and illegal status became, in effect, abstract constructions, having less to do with experience than with numbers and paper. Legal status now rested on being in the right place in the queue--if a country has a quota of N, immigrant N is legal but immigrant N+1 is illegal20 --and having the proper documentation, the prized "proper visa." These were not absolute, of course, as preference categories privileged certain family relations and qualitative indices for exclusion remained in force. However, the qualitative aspects of admission were rendered less visible as they were absorbed by the visa application process, which after 1924 took place at United States consular offices abroad. In addition to overseeing the distribution of quota slots, U.S. consuls determined the desirability of both quota and non-quota prospective migrants according to the submission of a "dossier," questionnaire and interview, and medical certification.21 In 1924 the Immigration Service terminated medical line inspection at Ellis Island because medical exclusions were determined abroad. Thus, upon arrival, immigrants' visas were inspected, not their bodies. The system shifted to a different, more abstract register, which privileged formal status over all else. It is this system that created what we today call the "undocumented immigrant." 22
    The illegal alien that is abstractly defined is thus something of a specter, a body stripped of individual personage, whose very presence is troubling, wrong. Moreover, this body stripped of personage has no rights. It is no coincidence that the regime of immigration restriction emerged with World War I. The war, by simultaneously destroying the geopolitical stability of Europe and solidifying the nation-state system, also created millions of refugees and stateless persons, as well as denationalized and denaturalized persons during the postwar period.22 Recalling Hannah Arendt, philosopher Giorgio Agamben tells us, "In the system of the nation-state, the so-called sacred and inalienable rights of man show themselves to lack every protection and reality at the moment in which they can no longer take the form of rights belonging to citizens of a state." Certainly the illegal alien appears in the same historical moment and in the same juridical no-man's-land that was created when the war loosened the links between birth and nation, human being and citizen.23
    23
    Second, the mere idea that persons without formal legal status resided in the nation engendered images of great danger. In 1925 the Immigration Service reported with some alarm that 1.4 million immigrants--20 percent of those who had entered the country before 1921--might already be living illegally in the United States. The service conceded that these immigrants had lawfully entered the country, but because it had no record of their admission, it considered them illegal. It warned,


    24
    (I)t is quite possible that there is an even greater number of aliens in the country whose legal presence here could not be established. No estimate could be made as to the number of smuggled aliens who have been unlawfully introduced into the country since the quota restrictions of 1921, or of those who may have entered under the guise of seamen. The figures presented are worthy of very serious thought, especially when it is considered that there is such a great percentage of our population . . . whose first act upon reaching our shores was to break our laws by entering in a clandestine manner--all of which serves to emphasize the potential source of trouble, not to say menace, that such a situation suggests.24

    Positive law thus constituted undocumented immigrants as criminals, both fulfilling and fueling nativist discourse. Once nativism succeeded in legislating restriction, anti-alien animus shifted its focus to the interior of the nation and the goal of expelling immigrants living illegally in the country. The Los Angeles Evening Express alleged that there were "several million foreigners" in the country who had "no right to be here." Nativists like Madison Grant, recognizing that deportation was "of great importance," also advocated alien registration "as a necessary prelude to deport on a large scale." Critics of nativism predicted that "if every man who wears a beard and reads a foreign newspaper is to be suspected unless he can produce either an identification card or naturalization papers, we shall have more confusion and bungling than ever." 25
    Prohibition supplied an important cache of criminal tropes, the language of smuggling directly yoking illegal immigration to liquor-running. The California Joint Immigration Committee described illegal aliens as "vicious and criminal," comprising "bootleggers, gangsters, and racketeers of large cities."26 Similarly, Edwin Reeves, a Border Patrol officer in El Paso during the 1920s, recalled, "Every fellow you caught with a load of liquor on his back . . . was a wetback." The National Republic claimed that two million aliens intent upon illegally entering the United States were massed in Canada, Mexico, and Cuba, on the "waiting lists" of smugglers.27
    25
    In this story, aliens were not only subjects--that is, the smugglers--they were also the objects, the human goods illegally trafficked across the border. In 1927 the Immigration Bureau reported that the "bootlegging of aliens" was "a lucrative industry second only to smuggling of liquor." It emphasized, "The bootlegged alien is by all odds the least desirable. Whatever else may be said of him: whether he be diseased or not, whether he holds views inimical to our institutions, he at best is a law violator from the outset."28 This view that the undocumented immigrant was the least desirable alien of all denotes a new imagining of the nation, which situated the principle of national sovereignty in the foreground. It made state territoriality--not labor needs, not family unification, not freedom from persecution, not assimilation--the engine of immigration policy.
    26
    Territoriality was highly unstable, however, precisely because restriction had created illegal immigrants within the national body. This was not an entirely new phenomenon, but important consequences resulted from the different nature and scale of illegal immigration in the late 1920s. Illegal immigrants now comprised all nationality and ethnic groups. They were numerous, perhaps even innumerable, and were diffused throughout the nation, particularly in large cities. An illegal immigrant might now be anyone's neighbor or coworker, even one's spouse or parent. Her illegal status might not be known to her social acquaintances and personal intimates. She might not even be aware of it herself, particularly if it resulted from a technical violation of the law. She might, in fact, be a responsible member of society (employed, tax paying, and, notwithstanding her illegal status, lawabiding). Even if she were indigent or uneducated, she might have a family, social ties in a community, and interact with others in ways that arguably established her as a member of society.
    27
    The problem of differentiating illegal immigrants from citizens and legal immigrants signified the danger that restrictionists had imagined--to them, illegal aliens were an invisible enemy in America's midst. Yet their proposed solutions, such as compulsory alien registration and mass deportations, were problematic exactly because undocumented immigrants were so like other Americans. During the interwar period a majority of political opinion opposed alien registration on grounds that it threatened Americans' perceived rights of free movement, association, and privacy.29 The Immigration Service had traditionally "never made any considerable attempt . . . to go out and look for aliens unlawfully in the country" and through the late 1920s remained reluctant to conduct mass raids, particularly in the north.30 The problem of differentiation revealed a discontinuity between illegal immigration as an abstract general problem, a "scare" discourse used at times to great political effect, and illegal immigrants who were real people known in the community, people who had committed no substantive wrongs.
    28
    Yet, if illegal aliens were so like other Americans, the racial and ethnic diversity of the American population further complicated the problem of differentiation. We might anticipate that illegal aliens from Europe and Canada were perceived and treated differently from those of Mexican or Asian origin.31 In fact, the racial dimensions of deportation policy were not merely expressions of existing racial prejudice. Rather, they derived from processes of territoriality and administrative enforcement that were not in the first instance motivated or defined by race.
    29
    We might approach this problem by considering the question of defining and controlling the border and by returning to Commissioner Hull's testimony that the Border Patrol did not operate "on the border line" but "back of the line." Contemporaries understood the distinction, if not the full implications. Writing about the Border Patrol in the Southwest, one author described apprehending aliens "at some distance back from the International Line" a "man-sized job." She explained, "To capture an alien who is in the act of crawling through a hole in the fence between Arizona and Mexico is easy compared with apprehending and deporting him after he is hidden in the interior, among others of his own race who are legally in this country."32 The Border Patrol's capacious definition of its jurisdiction suggests that the nation's borders (the point of exclusion) collapsed into and became indistinguishable from the interior (the space of inclusion). But, this is not to say that the border was eliminated. Policies of restriction and deportation reconstructed and raised the borders, even as they destabilized them. History and policy also constructed the U.S.-Mexican and U.S.-Canadian borders differently. The processes of defining and policing the border both encoded and generated racial ideas and practices that, in turn, produced different racialized spaces internal to the nation.
    30

    The Border and the Border Patrol

    Before the 1920s the Immigration Service paid little attention to the nation's land borders because the overwhelming majority of immigrants landed at Ellis Island and other seaports. The flow of immigrants into the country had been not only welcome but had been focused at fixed points that rendered land borders invisible. One immigration director described the situation as the "equivalent to a circle with locked doors with no connecting wall between them."33 A small force of the Customs Service and the Chinese Division of the Immigration Service jointly patrolled the Mexican and Canadian borders against illegal entry by Chinese. The Chinese patrol inspector, assigned to horseback detail or inspecting freight cars, occupied the loneliest and bottommost position in the hierarchy of the service.34
    31
    Immigration inspectors ignored Mexicans coming into the southwestern United States during the 1900s and 1910s to work in railroad construction, mining, and agriculture. The Immigration Bureau did not seriously consider Mexican immigration within its purview, but rather as something that was "regulated by labor market demands in [the southwestern] border states." The Bureau also described the Southwest as the "natural habitat" of Mexicans, acknowledging, albeit strangely, Mexicans' claims of belonging in an area that had once been part of Mexico. The Immigration Act of 1917 doubled the head tax and imposed a literacy test, erecting the first barriers to entry. But unlawful entry was limited, as the Labor Department exempted Mexicans from the requirements during the war. It was not until 1919 that Mexicans entering the United States were required to apply for admission at lawfully designated ports of entry.35
    32
    Before World War I, the U.S.-Canada border was also soft. In some ways it resembled the Mexican border: vast stretches were sparsely populated, economically undeveloped, and intemperate for many months of the year. As with the Mexican border, the first inspection policies instituted along the Canadian border in the 1890s aimed not to restrict Canadians but to deter Chinese and Europeans of the excludable classes who sought entry into the United States through the unguarded back door.36 Throughout the nineteenth century, Canadians moved freely into the United States: Canadian farmers participated in the settlement of the American West, which movement preceded expansion to the Canadian West; and industry and manufacturing in Michigan and New England drew labor from Canada as well as from Europe.37 But Canadians assumed a different economic relationship to the United States than did Mexicans. In general Canadians did not comprise a major source of unskilled labor for American industry, largely because Canada itself suffered a labor shortage and relied on immigrant labor for its own economic development. For example, in the early twentieth century the sugar beet industry on both sides of the border--in Michigan, Wisconsin, and southern Ontario--recruited European agricultural laborers. After 1924, when European immigration to the United States declined, American sugar beet growers resorted not to Canadian labor but to Mexican and, secondarily, to Filipino labor.38
    33
    If both the Mexican and Canadian borders were soft until World War I, the passage of the quota laws in 1921 and 1924 threw the nation's contiguous land borders into sharp relief for immigration authorities. Although most European immigrants continued to land at seaports, contemporaries imagined that illegal aliens would overrun the land borders. One writer, believing that "the tide of immigration now beats upon the land bordersnot upon the sea coasts--of the United States," asked, "can these long borders ever be adequately patrolled?"39
    34
    Indeed, illegal European immigrants entered the United States across both borders. Belgian, Dutch, Swiss, Russian, Bulgarian, Italian, and Polish immigrants enlisted in agricultural labor programs in the Canadian west, only to arrive in Canada and immediately attempt entry into the United States, at points from Ontario to Manitoba. An investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1925 reported that "thousands" of immigrants, "mostly late arrivals from Europe," were "coming [into Canada] as fast as they can get the money to pay the smugglers." The most heavily traveled route for illegal European immigration was through Mexico. The commissioner general of immigration noted, "Long established routes from southern Europe to Mexican ports and overland to the Texas border, formerly patronized almost exclusively by diseased and criminal aliens, are now resorted to by large numbers of Europeans who cannot gain legal admission because of passport difficulties, illiteracy, or the quota law."40
    35
    By the late 1920s the surreptitious entry of Europeans into the United States declined. The threat of apprehension and deportation deterred some, but also alternate legal methods existed for circumventing the quota laws. Europeans could go to Canada and be admitted to United States legally after they had resided in Canada for five years. The evidence suggests that this was a popular strategy: the proportion of lawful admissions from Canada of persons not born in Canada increased from 20 percent in 1925 to over 50 percent in the early 1930s.41 And, as European immigrants in the United States became naturalized citizens, they could bring relatives over legally as non-quota immigrants. In 1927 over 60 percent of the non-quota immigrants admitted to the U.S. were from Italy, with the next largest groups coming from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Greece.42
    36
    This is not to say that illegal immigration of Europeans and Canadians stopped. The Immigration Service continued to deport illegal aliens to Europe and to Canada--deportations remained fairly constant at 6,000 to 8,000 a year through the early thirties. But the number of persons deported for surreptitious entry declined whereas the number deported for overstaying temporary visas increased.43 In general, the Immigration Service was more concerned with the bureaucratic burden of processing the high volume of legal traffic crossing the U.S.-Canada border in both directions. It also re-lied on the 1894 agreement between the United States and Canada, which made Canadian rail carriers responsible for checking the status of passengers traveling to the United States, for deterring illegal entry from Canada.44
    37
    The service's work on the Canadian border was in sharp contrast to what the commissioner general described as the "high pitch" of its work along the U.S.-Mexico border.45 During the late 1920s the number of illegal Mexican immigrants deported across the southern border skyrocketed-from 1,751 expulsions in 1925 to over 15,000 in 1929.46 Deportations for entry without a proper visa accounted for most of the increase. Although Mexicans did not face quota restrictions, they nevertheless were confronted by myriad entry requirements, such as the head tax and visa fee, which impelled many to avoid formal admission and inspection.
    38
    Mexicans coming to the United States encountered a new kind of border. Notwithstanding the lax immigration procedures before World War I, the United States-Mexican border had had a long history of dispute. Born of war and annexation, it was contested literally from its first imagination, by the Mexican and American surveyors charged with drawing the boundary after the Mexican American war. Consolidating American sovereignty in the conquered territory was a protracted process, as armed skirmishes and rebellion along the border attended the appropriation of property and the imposition of American political institutions. After a decade of instability wrought by the Mexican Revolution and World War I, the border as a political marker became basically settled.47
    39
    During the 1920s immigration policy rearticulated the U.S.-Mexican border as a cultural and racial boundary, as a creator of illegal immigration. Federal officials self-consciously understood their task as creating a barrier where, in a practical sense, none had existed before. The service instituted new policies--new inspection procedures and the formation of the Border Patrol--that accentuated the difference between the two countries. As historian George Sánchez described, crossing the border became "a momentous occasion, a break from the past . . . a painful and abrupt event permeated by an atmosphere of racism and control--an event that clearly demarcated one society from another."48
    40
    Inspection at the Mexican border involved a degrading procedure of bathing, delousing, medical line inspection, and interrogation. The baths were new and unique to Mexican immigrants, requiring them to be inspected while naked, have their hair shorn, and have their clothing and baggage fumigated. Medical line inspection, modeled after the practice formerly used at Ellis Island, required immigrants to walk in single file past a medical officer.49 These procedures were particularly humiliating, even gratuitous, in light of the fact that the Immigration Act of 1924 required prospective immigrants to present a medical certificate to the U.S. consul when applying for a visa, that is, before travel to the United States. Medical line inspection at Ellis Island was eliminated after 1924, and at El Paso the service exempted all Europeans and Mexicans arriving by first class rail from medical line inspection, the baths, and the literacy test. Racial presumptions about Mexican laborers, not law, dictated the procedures at the Mexican border.
    41
    More than anything else, the formation of the Border Patrol raised the border. In the Mexican border district, the service first recruited patrol officers from the civil service railway postal clerk registers, but that proved to be a mistake, as they were generally unqualified and the service quickly exhausted the register.50 Receiving a temporary reprieve from civil service requirements, the service hired former cowboys, skilled workers, and small ranchers as its first patrol officers. Almost all were young, many had military experience, and not a few associated with the Ku Klux Klan. "Dogie" Wright was a typical recruit. The son of a Texas Ranger, Wright had also been a ranger and a deputy United States marshal before he joined the Border Patrol in 1925.51 Some patrolmen, according to Clifford Perkins, the first Border Patrol inspector in charge in El Paso, "were a little too quick with a gun, or given to drinking too much, too often"; many emulated the "rough but effective methods of the Texas Rangers."52 Of thirty-four patrol inspectors in the El Paso district in 1927, only one was Mexican American. Pedro (Pete) Torres, a native of New Mexico, had a reputation as an "extremely valuable man on the river, for he thought like a Mexican and looked like one" and could "roam through Mexican neighborhoods without arousing suspicion." Torres had "no nerves at all," according to Perkins. "He may have been a little quick on the trigger, but his actions in every shooting match during which smugglers were killed always proved justified by the circumstances."53
    42
    Officials labored to create a professional enforcement arm of the Immigration Service out of such material. Perkins recalled a training program comprising weekly lectures on investigative procedures, but training mostly took place on the job. Edwin Reeves said, "they just give you a .45 single action revolver with a web belt--and that was it." A civil service exam was soon instituted, which included math, writing an English essay, and demonstrating knowledge of Spanish "as spoken along the Mexican border." During the late 1920s turnover continued to average 25 percent within the first six months. A lack of professionalism plagued the force. In the El Paso district, drinking on the job, reading and socializing with friends while on duty, reckless driving, rumor mongering, and accepting gratuities from aliens were common problems.54 43
    More important than unprofessional behavior, the Border Patrol's work assumed the character of criminal pursuit and apprehension, although officially it was charged with enforcing civil and not criminal laws and was not trained as a criminal enforcement agency. As discussed above, the service interpreted its authorization to apprehend illegal aliens without warrant to apply to anywhere within the interior of the nation. It also seized goods it believed were "obviously contraband or smuggled," a practice that the commissioner general acknowledged had dubious legal sanction.55 During the Border Patrol's first five years of service, fifteen officers were killed in the line of duty, twelve in the Mexican border districts.56 44
    As Border Patrol officers zealously pursued illegal aliens, smugglers, and criminals, the Immigration Service received complaints from white Americans who were interrogated by discourteous patrolmen or arrested without warrant. One citizen protested that the Border Patrol "enacted the role of Jesse James" on public highways. In 1929, in response to such adverse criticism, the service discontinued the "promiscuous halting of traffic" in the border area, acknowledging that it was "dangerous and probably illegal." A national conference of immigration commissioners and district directors held the same year devoted considerable attention to the conduct of Border Patrol officers and inspectors, including the lack of civility toward immigrants, bribery, and covering up misconduct. Official policy deemed "courtesy and consideration"--"good morning and a smile" and "I'm sorry"--as the "least expensive and perhaps the most useful" of the service's tools.57 45
    Thus patrolmen were trained to act with civility, courtesy, and formality when dealing with Anglo citizens, ranch owners, immigrants arriving from Europe, and "high class tourists" from Canada.58 But the quasi- and extralegal practices associated with rancher vigilantism and Texas Rangers suited the needs of the Border Patrol in the Southwest, particularly when it involved patrolling large expanses of uninhabited territory far removed from Wash-ington's bureaucratic oversight.59 The Border Patrol functioned within an environment of increased racial hostility against Mexicans; indeed, its activities helped constitute that environment by aggressively apprehending and deporting increasing numbers of Mexicans. The Border Patrol interrogated Mexican laborers on roads and in towns, and it was not uncommon for "sweeps" to apprehend several hundred immigrants at a time. By the early 1930s the service was apprehending nearly five times as many suspected illegal aliens in the Mexican border area as it did in the Canadian border area. The Los Angeles newspaper La Opinión believed the aggressive deportation policy would result in a "de-Mexicanization of southern California."60 46
    Moreover, many Mexicans entered the United States through a variety of means that were not illegal but comprised irregular, unstable categories of lawful admission, making it more difficult to distinguish between those who were lawfully in the country and those who were not. Mexicans living in Mexican border towns who commuted into the United States to work on a daily or weekly basis constituted one category of irregular entry. The service counted these commuters as immigrants and collected a one-time head tax from them. It also required them to report to the immigration station once a week for bathing, a hated requirement that gave rise to a local black market in bathing certificates.61 47
    Many other Mexicans entered legally as "temporary visitors" to work for an agricultural season and then returned to Mexico. According to one estimate, 20 to 30 percent of legal Mexican entrants during the 1920s and 1930s were classified as nonimmigrants--that is, as nonresident aliens intending to stay from six months to a year. The service did not require a passport or visa for such entry from Canada, Mexico, or Cuba, as part of a reciprocal arrangement with those countries. That policy served Americans with business in neighboring countries but was also available to seasonal laborers working in the United States. They had only to pay a refundable head tax. If they failed to depart within the time limit, they became illegal.62 Immigration policy had thus constructed classifications of entry that supported local and regional labor markets but that were also perceived as opportunities for illegal immigration. The instability of these immigration categories made officials increasingly suspicious of Mexican immigrants. 48
    It was ironic that Mexicans became so associated with illegal immigration because, unlike Europeans, they were not subject to numerical quotas and, unlike Asiatics, they were not excluded as racially ineligible to citizen-ship. But as numerical restriction assumed primacy in immigration policy, its enforcement aspects--inspection procedures, deportation, the Border Patrol, criminal prosecution, and irregular categories of immigration--created many thousands of illegal Mexican immigrants. The undocumented Mexican laborer who crossed the border to work in the burgeoning industry of commercial agriculture emerged as the prototypical illegal alien. 49

    Administrative Law Reform and the Unmaking of Illegal Aliens
    The illegal aliens deported during the late 1920s and early 1930s comprised both unauthorized border crossers and visa violators and those who entered lawfully but committed a deportable offense subsequent to entry. Each category included immigrants who had already settled in the country and acquired jobs, property, and families. These illegal immigrants had in effect become members of American society. But if their inclusion in the nation was a social reality, it was also a legal impossibility. Resolving that contradiction by means of deportation caused hardship and suffering to these immigrants and their families. It struck many as simply unjust. 50
    Testifying before Congress in 1934, Nicholas Grisanti of the Federation of Italian Societies in Buffalo, New York, cited a typical case of an unjust deportation. An Italian immigrant had lived most of his life in Buffalo. He was married with three small children and was gainfully employed. But, Grisanti explained, "at some previous year he had taken as a boy a half bag of coal from the railroad tracks to help keep his family warm," for which crime he was convicted and given a suspended sentence. Years later, he went to Canada for a summer vacation. The Immigration Service considered his return a "new entry" and ordered him deported, on grounds that he had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude before "time of entry." His deportation was thwarted after a public outcry led acting New York Governor Herbert Lehman to pardon the "little offensive."63 51
    In a sense, the protest against unjust deportations stemmed from the fact that European and Canadian immigrants had come face-to-face with a system that had historically evolved to justify arbitrary and summary treatment of Chinese and other Asian immigrants. It seemed that the warning sounded by Justice Brewer's dissent in Fong Yue Ting had come true. Justice Brewer had acknowledged that the absolute power of the state to expel unwanted aliens was "directed only against the obnoxious Chinese, but," he asked, "if the power exists, who shall say it will not be exercised tomorrow against other classes and other people?"64 52
    Indeed, as early as 1920, in the aftermath of the Palmer Raids, legal scholars noted that alleged anarchists in deportation proceedings were deprived of their civil liberties according to the "methods applied in the Chinese deportation cases."65 After 1924, not only anarchists but also Europeans who unlawfully entered the country were caught in the legal machinery designed for the "obnoxious Chinese." 53
    Thus during the late 1920s and early 1930s a critique of deportation policy emerged among social welfare advocates and legal reformers. They did not directly challenge deportation as a prerogative of the nation's sovereign power, but they did search for ways to reconcile conflicting imperatives of national sovereignty and individual rights. During the early 1930s several legal studies called for administrative law reform in deportation. These included Deportation of Aliens from the United States to Europe, by Jane Perry Clark, a Barnard political scientist; a report on deportation by the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement (Wicker-sham Commission); and Administrative Control of Aliens: A Study in Administrative Law and Procedures, by William Van Vleck, dean of George Washington University Law School. All three studies based their findings on an examination of actual deportation cases and other administrative records of the Immigration Service.66 54
    Clark, Van Vleck, and the Wickersham Commission reached essentially the same two general conclusions. First, they believed deportation policy was applied in arbitrary and unnecessarily harsh ways, resulting in great personal hardship on individuals and in the separation of families, with no social benefit. Second, in terms of procedure, they concluded that deportation policy frequently operated in the breach of established traditions of Anglo American jurisprudence, especially those concerning judicial review and due process. As Lucy Salyer has shown, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the federal courts generally upheld the summary character of immigration proceedings. This was despite the principle established by the Supreme Court in 1903 in the Japanese Immigrant Case that aliens in immigration proceedings had rights derived from "fundamental principles that inhere in due process of law." By the 1920s aliens had won only a few procedural rights, among them the right to an administrative hearing and the right to counsel.67 But critics found even these gravely lacking, or undermined by the lack of other procedural safeguards, and cited a broad range of abuses. The Wickersham Commission noted the danger at hand: "Th

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