Latino Studies

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 160–185 | Cite as

The Legal Production of Mexican/Migrant “Illegality”

  • Nicholas De Genova


Mexican migration to the United States is distinguished by a seeming paradox that is seldom examined: while no other country has supplied nearly as many migrants to the US as Mexico, major changes in US immigration law since 1965 have created ever more severe restrictions on “legal” migration from Mexico in particular. This paper delineates the historical specificity of Mexican migration as it has come to be located in the legal economy of the US nation-state, and thereby constituted as an object of the law. More precisely, this paper examines the history of changes in US immigration law through the specific lens of how these revisions with respect to the Western Hemisphere, and thus, all of Latin America, have had a distinctive and disproportionate impact upon Mexicans in particular.


undocumented Mexican migration illegality deportability immigration law race citizenship 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas De Genova
    • 1
  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew York

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