This World We Made


People have been crossing the US-México border since it was formed. It was common practice to cross the border for work whether temporary or permanent. The majority of such work was seasonal. The two economies became interdependent: the US depends on México for a reserve and seasonal labor force, while México and Mexican families depend on the US for income. The Méxican economy receives billions of US Dollars every year from workers in the US.

For some time it was normal for seasonal workers to turn themselves into law enforcement at the end of the season so that they could travel home at the government's expense.

In 1848 the United States forced México to sign the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo to end the Méxican-American War. In this treaty the US paid 15 million dollars in exchange for 55% of México's previous territory, and 3/4's of its natural resources.

In WWI the US massively expanded agriculture to feed Europe and the US armies. US workers were sent to Europe to fight and factories retooled to produce arms. Much of the labor for this expansion was derived from México. 700k Méxicans went to the US to work. After the war, many were quickly sent home. Ford Motor Company alone sent 3,000 Mexicans back to México when they were no longer needed.

In 1924 the US created the border patrol.

In the 1930's during President Hoover's administration deports anyone who looks Mexican, even some American citizens, because "they are taking all the jobs" during the depression. A large number of these deportees were sent via freight boxcars.

In WWII when the US again asked for additional labor from México the Mexican government demands better conditions for its workers. In 1942 the US government opens the bracero program which includes wage and job security guarantees, and requires employers to provide transportation for workers. Braceros filled positions previously occupied by Japanese-Americans while they were in internment camps. The bracero program was not able to accommodate the number of people that sought work in the US and illegal migration continued. Around 2 million méxicans worked in the US under the bracero program until its termination in 1964. In addition to labor, 350k Mexicans served in US armed forces during WWII.

In 1954 Operation Wetback is started with support from the Méxican government. México wanted to limit the number of workers going to the US to keep its own labor costs down. The operation involved increased raids and rapid deportation of undocumented workers. Deportees were not given time to collect their possessions, nor contact people before being deported. They were not given a choice as to where in México they were sent and were often stranded in unfamiliar parts of the country. In 1955 88 méxican deportees died after being left in the dessert. there were 11k formal complains against the program by documented bracero workers.

The bracero program ended in 1964 largely because it was ineffective at reducing the number of undocumented workers in the US. In 1965 México started the Border Industrialization Program allowing foreign businesses (mostly US) to build factories near the border and import and export their materials and products duty-free.

1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, signed by President Regan legalizes almost 3 million undocumented Mexicans in the US. The program requires proof of employment, and so excludes many domestic workers, mostly women.

Starting in 1994 the US constructs walls on the border in the most populated areas as part of Operation Gatekeeper. The walls force immigrants to cross in the desert where thousands have died of thirst and exposure. As of 2007, there have been around 5,000 migrant deaths along the Mexico-U.S. border in the last thirteen years.

In 1994 NAFTA opens free trade in North America. Subsidized American corn is still cheaper than Mexican corn, putting Mexican farmers out of work.

It has become so much more difficult to cross the border that many migrants now stay in the US permanently once they have crossed.

After September 11 and the creation of the Department of homeland security border security was massively increased in 2003.

In 2006 Congress authorized expansion of the border fence.

2008 Secure Communities Program allows law enforcement officers to cross-reference all fingerprints taken against an immigration database allowing people to be deported for traffic violations.

2012 Deferred action for children.

2014 Crisis of unaccompanied minors.

2015 Operation Crosscheck

legal migration for a family today can take 7-20 years.


1950's CIA demonizes and overthrows legitimately elected president for working to enact land reform that would reduce profits for the United Fruit Company.

Ensuing civil unrest continues to present.

Puerto Rico

Taken as spoil of the Spanish-American War of 1898.

US forces the use of English in schools and all government offices.

US only gives citizenship to Puerto Ricans in time to draft them for WWII.

Moved to the US in large numbers after the war to fill US factories.

Harry Truman Addressed Puerto Rican Abuses.


Cuba was taken from Spain as a spoil of the Spanish-American War.

The united states placed dictators over the country that were favorable to American business interest. (fruit production)

Batista Regime

Nominally an independent country

Bay of Pigs: Castro's army defeats US trained and armed forces.

Dominican Republic

1916 US occupation. Place dictator Trujillo in power in the name of US business interest.

1963 CIA assassinates Trujillo. announces great day for democracy.

1965 US invades and overthrows elected government.


Samoza Regime installed by US succeeded by two sons

Samoza kills national hero. Businesses strike.

1979.JUL Samoza Regime toppled.

Civil war in "Contra" of the new government

US illegally funds Contra rebels with sales money from Iranian Arms deal.

El Salvador

US trains soldiers responsible for politicized torture and murder during civil war.

Catholic Arch-Bishop Romero assassinated in church for speaking out against violence.

Protesters gunned down by the military.


Yet by themselves the 1965 amendments cannot explain the remarkable surge in Asian immigration. Another key factor was the loss of the Vietnam War and the subsequent collapse of the US-backed governments in Indochina. With the fall of Saigon in 1975, the United States faced new demands for entry by thousands of military officers, government officials, and US employees fearful of reprisals from the new communist authorities. As economic and political conditions in Vietnam deteriorated during the late 1970s and early 1980s, larger numbers of soldiers, minor officials, and merchants took to the seas in desperate attempts to escape.

For both political and humanitarian reasons, the United States had little choice but to accept these people outside the numerical limits established under the 1965 Act. Although only 335 Vietnamese entered the United States during the 1950s and 4,300 arrived during the 1960s, 172,000 were admitted during the 1970s and 281,000 arrived during the 1980s. In addition to the Vietnamese, the US misadventure in Indochina led to the entry of many thousands of Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong refugees, an influx that collectively totaled 300,000 by 1990. In all, about a third of of the Asian immigrants since 1970 can be traced to the failed intervention United States in Indochina (US Immigration and Naturalization Service 1994: 28).

--Douglas S. Massey: Population and Development Review, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Sep., 1995), pp. 631-652


The "land without a people for a People without a Land" actually had a lot of people in it.

Saudi Arabia

Unwritten arms deal in return for oil rights


US overthrows stable, secular, but dictatorial government causing now over 15 years of destruction and instability in both Iraq and Syria.




CIA overthrows elected government, and replaces with current dictatorship, for access to oil.


US funded and trained terrorists to harass the Soviets, in the process creating the same terrorist organizations that later attacked the US.