Militarization of the U.S. Mexico Broder Essay

Militarization Of The U S Mexico Broder Essay

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Militarization of the U.S. – Mexico Border By Joan J. Jaimes June 22, 2000 “¡Corranle, allí viene la migra!”, translated into English, this means “Run, there comes immigration!” This is what illegal immigrants shout everyday when they are about to cross the Rio Grande in search for better lives. Unfortunately, not many get through alive because of the militarization that has developed on the U.S. border with Mexico. Operation Rio Grande continues a process put in motion over a century ago by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. It tries to erase the reality of a social geographical order that defies neat national divisions and impose a narrow notion of citizenship on people on both sides of the international boundary. In the process, the U.S., like all countries to varying degrees, elevates national citizenship to a position of primacy and lessens the inherent humanity of those on the wrong side of the social and territorial boundaries. Operation Rio Grande, launched in August 1997, in Brownsville, Texas, was a special multi-year operation designed to gain and maintain control of specific border areas through a combination of new technology and additional staffing. At the start of the operation, 69 Border Patrol agents were detailed to Brownsville to intensify existing enforcement effort. In September of that same year, the Border Patrol deployed special response teams to those ports-of-entry where increased numbers of fraudulent entry was expected. In the Fiscal Year of 1998, 260 new Border Patrol agents were added to the McAllen Sector and 205 to the Laredo Sector. An important feature of Operation Rio Grande has been the integration of a broad range of INS enforcement operations. Studies show that the crime rate in Brownsville alone dropped by more than 20% in 1998. (U.S. INS) The origins of the U.S. Mexico boundary are to be found in the imperial competition between Spain, France, and Britain for possessions in North America. Lack of agreement between the three imperial powers over the location of the boundaries separating their territories in North America led to disagreement between Mexico and an expansionist U.S. After Mexico gained its independence in 1821, many U.S. leaders argued for taking part or all of Mexico’s territory. Numerous prominent U.S. politicians, driven by the ideology of Manifest Destiny, considered taking Mexico “a divine right.” (Acuna, 1988) As tensions mounted between the U.S. and Mexico over Texas, the U.S. deliberately provoked Mexico by sending troops into territory claimed by Mexico in early 1846. Battles between U.S. and Mexican troops ensued, quickly resulting in full-scale war. The war raged on for two years, largely in favor of the U.S., and ended with the U.S. taking over Mexico City. On February 2, 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo was signed, and Mexico was forced to cede half of its territory to the U.S. Under the treaty’s terms, the U.S. annexed a territory equivalent in size to that of Western Europe, and absorbed 100,000 Mexican citizens and 200,000 Native Americans living in the territory. (Herzog, 1990) The decades following the imposition of the new U.S. – Mexico boundary saw widespread violence as U.S. authorities and non-State actors established their dominance. The Mexican Revolution and the accompanying socio-political turmoil between 1910, and 1920, caused great concern for U.S. authorities. Tension along the boundary with Mexico quickly subsided thereafter. (Griswold, 1990) Pacification did not mean control by the U.S. Migration between the U.S. and Mexico long preceded the imposition of the modern day boundary. Mexican migration to the U.S. was not really significant in scale or in geographical extent until the 20th Century. In 1942, the Bracero (Bra-zeh-roh) Program was implemented. It was a contract labor program in response to labor shortages brought about by the U.S. entry into World War II. (The Bracero Program, 1996) Furthermore, the INS practice of legalizing unauthorized migrants and turning them into braceros, or ‘drying out the wetbacks,’ increased unauthorized immigration from Mexico as the news spread that the easiest manner to obtain a bracero contract was to enter the U.S. illegally. When the U.S. Congress officially ended the program in 1964, the previously legal migratory flow simply went underground. As the 1970’s approached, calls to enhance enforcement along the U.S. and Mexico boundary increased significantly. (The Bracero Program, 1996) From U.S. perspective, the modern U.S. – Mexico border has always represented a line of control ;one that contains the national body politic and that regulates the flow of goods and people from without. Needless to say, there has long been a huge gap between this territorial-state-centric ideal and the reality of a transnational world. That said, the U.S. has long made efforts, albeit inconsistent ones, to achieve this ideal as part of its efforts to realize national sovereignty. In 1921, the U.S. government passed the first quantitative immigration restrictions in U.S. history. As a result, the U.S. congress established the Border Patrol in 1924. (Martinez, 1995) The U.S. Border Patrol is the organization that polices the entry of illegal immigrants into our country. The official mission of the United States Border Patrol is to protect the boundaries of the United States
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