Nations, Borders, and History
This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose: to tell the stories of Chinese immigration through the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. Following the passage in 1882 of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese laborers from entering the United States, virtually all Chinese were subject to intense inspection and surveillance by an immigration bureaucracy designed to exclude and deport. But immigration officials at the Mexico border soon discovered that exclusion laws were often too general for effective enforcement at the southern U.S. boundary. U.S. lawmakers had not anticipated the manner in which the myriad legal and social complexities presented by Chinese immigrants continuously prompted the reconfiguration of enforcement strategies at the Mexico border. This book presents a history of Chinese fronterizos that offers a way to understand how the current images of the border came to be, and why our constructs of the U.S.–Mexico border do not include the Chinese. The chapter presents an overview of those that follow it.
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