Mexicans in the Making of America

Neil Foley. Harvard Univ., $29.95 (334p) ISBN 978-0-674-04848-5
In this compelling sociological study, noted historian Foley reaches back to the Spanish explorers of what became Mexico and forward to today’s headlines, with Hispanics—most of them of Mexican descent—the fastest-growing segment of the U. S. population. He moves with uncommon lucidity through a thicket of litigation and legislation, finding a key point in the Census Bureau’s 1977 decision to designate Mexicans and other ethnicities under the “pan-ethnic identification” Hispanic, chosen instead of other options like “Latino” or “Spanish-origin.” He also traces conflicting impulses toward inclusion (1942’s Bracero Program; recent attempts to pass the DREAM Act) and exclusion (1954’s Operation Wetback; California Proposition 187). Putting a face onto these bureaucratic details, Foley covers the stories of individual political and labor activists, including Cesar Chavez and Reies Tijerina, and myriad cases of discrimination in public places and in hiring and work conditions. The phrase “comprehensive immigration reform”—invariably referring to Mexicans and other Hispanics—slips all too easily from the lips of conservatives, liberals, Democrats, Republicans, leftists, and rightists. Readers of all political persuasions will find Foley’s intensively researched, well-documented scholarly work an instructive, thoroughly accessible guide to the ramifications of immigration policy. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 09/08/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 361 pages - 978-0-674-73567-5
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-674-97535-4
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