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Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the "Illegal Alien" and the Remaking of the U.S. - Mexico Boundary [Paperback]

by Joseph Nevins
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)


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Operation Gatekeeper and Beyond: The War On "Illegals" and the Remaking of the U.S. - Mexico Boundary Operation Gatekeeper and Beyond: The War On "Illegals" and the Remaking of the U.S. - Mexico Boundary
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Book Description

November 23, 2001 0415931053 978-0415931052 1
By 1994 American anti-immigration rhetoric had reached a fevered pitch, and throngs of migrants entered the U.S. nightly. In response, the INS launched "Operation Gatekeeper," the centerpiece of the Clinton administration's unprecedented effort to "regain control" of our borders. In Operation Gatekeeper, Joseph Nevins details the administration's dramatic overhaul of the San Diego-Tijauna border-the busiest land crossing in the world-adding miles of new fence and hundreds of trained agents.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1994 the Clinton administration upped the neo-protectionist ante by doubling the budget for fences and trained agents along the border between Mexico and the U.S. Journalist Joseph Nevins's Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the `Illegal Alien' and the Remaking of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary explores this concerted effort to prevent illegal border crossings in the context of the mid-90s economic boom and the hundreds of thousands of legal Mexican immigrants. Examining physical, political and economic attributes of the Border culture often abstracted in postmodern literary and cultural criticism, Nevins argues that Clinton's program has done little to keep undocumented immigrants from entering but has increased the dangers for them as well as inflamed anti-immigrant tendencies in the U.S. Mike Davis's introduction will help draw attention to this astute book.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In October 1994, the Immigration and Naturalization Service began Operation Gatekeeper. Its goal was to reduce the movement of Mexicans across the U.S. border between San Diego and Tijuana. Nevins (Berkeley), who writes for the Nation, the Progressive, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications, examines this operation in the context of immigration between these two countries. A historical account of the United States-Mexico border shows that, up through recent times, the movement of peoples between the two countries was of relatively little concern. Not until the period of 1970 to the 1990s did political pressures make securing the border a pressing national issue. In turn, this pressure popularized the concept of the illegal alien. Operation Gatekeeper itself was developed by the Clinton administration to counter efforts by Gov. Pete Wilson to restrict Mexican migration into California as well as the Proposition 187 movement to deny education, health, and social services to undocumented immigrants. While the operation did defuse anti-immigrant feelings, it made the crossing much more dangerous and resulted in an increased loss of life. This work complements Peter Andreas's Border Games: Policing the U.S.-Mexico Divide (LJ 8/00) and Pablo Vila's Crossing Borders, Reinforcing Borders: Social Categories, Metaphors, and Narrative Identities on the U.S.-Mexican Frontier (Univ. of Texas, 2000). Nevins does a good job of presenting the case, but the result is a narrowly focused work that is most appropriate for academic libraries. Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ., Parkersburg
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (November 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415931053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415931052
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Nevins is the author of Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the Illegal Alien and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary (Routledge, 2002) and, more recently, A Not-so-distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor (Cornell University Press, 2005). His writings have appeared in numerous journalistic publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, the International Herald Tribune, The Nation, Los Angeles Times, The Progressive, and The Washington Post. He is an associate professor of geography at Vassar College. Born and raised in Boston to a working class family, he attended the city's public schools. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1987. It was as a student there that he became politically active, engaging in solidarity work with Central America, and efforts to end CIA recruitment on campus. He received a Ph.D. in geography in 1999 from UCLA. A long-time solidarity activist with East Timor, Joe is a founding member of the East Timor Action Network. He visited East Timor many times during the years of the Indonesian occupation and was the first American to meet with the East Timorese guerrilla movement. In 1999, he helped to organize and coordinate the largest non-governmental observer mission for the UN-run plebiscite in East Timor which resulted in the country's eventual independence. A father of two young girls, Joe is a board member of the Tucson-based BorderLinks, a bi-national organization that offers experiential educational seminars along the border focusing on the issues of global economics, militarization, immigration, and popular resistance to oppression and violence. He is also a founder and board member of La'o Hamutuk, the East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important story often overlooked, excellent book November 13, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Especially for those of us who live in the Southwest, this is a very important book that contains a reality which is underreported in national and mainstream media. The only reason I have given this book 4 stars rather than 5 is a result of the overall writing style. It is a very historically-based book that can come off as a bit dry at times, but the content and shock value alone more than makes up for it. Read this book and learn about the violence that takes place every day on the US-Mexico border in the name of democracy and freedom.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very thorough and highly thought provoking book January 11, 2002
Format:Paperback
This book changed the way I think about the U.S.-Mexico border, undocumented immigrants, and border control. It provides a thorough and fascinating history of the development of the border, and practices and identities related to it. The perpespective of the author is certainly unique and provocative. He puts forth ideas and analysis that one rarely if ever hears or reads. I highly recommend it.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening book ..... informative and thorough. March 27, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book provides an excellent overview on the history of the US-Mexican border, and immigration laws that have been instituted over the years. The author is able to see through the propaganda the US government uses to perpetuate their "rationale" for the continued security buildup with regards to the border. Anyone with an interest in history and/or immigration should read this book, and become enlightened!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book September 29, 2005
Format:Paperback
This book provides a great overview of the U.S.-Mexico border and a compelling analysis and explanation of how we arrived at the point we now find ourselves in terms of immigration and boundary enforcement. I had to read the book for an undergraduate class and found it to be a great way to conclude the course. The book totally challenged me in a way that few other books have.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Operation Gatekeeper January 16, 2006
Format:Paperback
Very well-documented. A useful and must-have source for anyone interested in Southwestern U.S. border enforcement issues.
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