Pa'l Norte: Mexican Immigration and Labor 1930s-1980s
By the 1980s, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service estimated that over 1 million undocumented Mexican nationals resided in the United States. To understand the reasons that undocumented immigration reached record-breaking numbers in the 1980s, we must analyze the policies that sparked high rates of Mexican immigration throughout the middle of the twentieth century. Thus, this thesis examines Mexican and U.S. labor and immigration policies between the 1930s and 1980s. Between 1942 and 1964, the binational Bracero Program created an avenue for sanctioned Mexican immigration to the United States. However, the program's strict requirements influenced the rise of undocumented Mexican immigration, consisting of those excluded from the program. Following the end of the Bracero Program in 1964, Mexico and the U.S. formulated the Border Industrialization Program to continue the partnership between American industries and Mexican labor. This new program exported American industries to Mexico rather than imported Mexican labor to the United States. However, the program failed to provide enough labor opportunities for Mexican nationals along the Mexican border, which prompted many to seek employment in the U.S. as undocumented workers. By analyzing the experiences of Mexican nationals in conjunction with binational policies, we gain a deeper understanding of the reasons that many Mexican nationals immigrated to the United States.