SHAFR 2020 – Virtual Roundtable – “Hollow Building Blocks: Immigration Restriction in the History of U.S.-Mexican Foreign Relations”

The United States has utilized multiple methods to stop the flow of Mexican immigration during the past century. During most-recent decades the United States has in various turns penalized U.S. businesses for employing undocumented Mexican migrants, militarized the U.S. Border Patrol to apprehend Mexican migrants, appropriated funds to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, attempted to make border crossing so inhospitable as to make the act of migration dangerous, and scaled up deportation rates of Mexican migrants. Present-day debates reflect how none of these methods of restriction have halted migration, even as they have created a great deal of animus between Americans, Mexicans, and the leaders who represent them.

Despite the lack of solutions, the diplomatic effects of immigration restriction in U.S.-Mexican relations have been long-reaching, and yet relatively understudied by historians of U.S. foreign policy. This roundtable will work to correct that scholarly shortcoming by discussing how Mexican immigration and efforts to restrict it have shaped foreign relations between the United States and Mexico. Panelists of this roundtable will provide broad and expansive, yet brief, comments on various historical episodes during the last century that demonstrate how the history of immigration restriction in U.S.-Mexican relations contextualizes the current controversy over a border wall and further attempts to restrict Mexican immigration.

Virtual roundtable presentations in lieu of the in-person SHAFR 2020 annual meeting:

Benjamin C. Montoya (Schreiner University)

Adam Goodman (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Laura D. Gutiérrez (University of the Pacific)

Mark Overmyer-Velázquez (University of Connecticut)