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Porous BordersMultiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands$
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Julian Lim

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469635491

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635491.001.0001

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Empires and Immigrants

Empires and Immigrants

(p.21) 1 Empires and Immigrants
Porous Borders

Julian Lim

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter frames the nineteenth century borderlands as a theater of movement that had long been marked by imperial contestations and diverse migrations. Native American, colonial, Mexican, and American migrations shaped the region, keeping territorial boundaries porous, and racial and national identities blurred. Following the transformation of the indigenous borderlands to a capitalist borderlands, the chapter traces the seismic demographic shift that drove the region’s rapid industrialization; as the borderlands connected into national, transnational, and global circuits of migration, and oceanic lines fed back into railway connections, white, black, Mexican, and Chinese immigrants descended on the border from all directions. Focusing on the multiple boundaries that intersected at the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border – namely, the international boundary as well as the limits of Jim Crow that ended where Texas met New Mexico – this chapter shows how and why the late 19th century borderlands looked so promising for these diverse groups. It begins to develop a transborder framework for understanding immigration, emphasizing how the narrowing of economic opportunities, political rights, and social freedoms in both the United States and Mexico contributed to such diverse men and women coming together in the borderlands.

Keywords:   Indigenous or Native American, Chinese, Mexican, Black or African American, Jim Crow, Immigration, U.S.-Mexico border, El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border, Industrialization

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