Inside the State: The Bracero Program, Immigration, and the I.N.S.

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Quid Pro, LLC, 2010 - Foreign workers, Mexican - 277 pages
Sweeping reforms in immigration policy over the last decade have led to heightened public awareness of this controversial issue. Inside the State takes the reader behind the scenes inside the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) - one of the most secretive agencies in the federal government, and one which wields enormous discretionary power. Kitty Calavita documents the internal decision-making processes of the INS that have shaped U.S. policy, and places the current reform movement in historical and theoretical perspective. Using internal government documents accessed through the Freedom of Information Act and never before published, Kitty Calavita examines the agency's operation of the program that imported over five million Mexican farmworkers or "braceros" to California, Texas and other southwestern states between 1942 and 1964. She traces the INS' operation of the Bracero program and the informal policymaking process that set its parameters. In its role as official gatekeeper, the agency controlled entries, departures, and desertions, exerting power not only over the braceros themselves, but ultimately over the entire program. This study reveals that the braceros, admitted under contract for limited periods of time and by definition captive to their employers, were considered an ideal source of cheap labor for U.S. agriculture. The INS used its substantial administrative power - and often stretched the letter of the law - to maximize the program's utility to employers. Connecting structural contradictions in the political economy to the details of agency decision-making, Inside the State provides one of the first in-depth analyses of the links between abstract theories of the state and real-life political actors and institutions. It will appeal to a wide range of academic researchers and state theorists, as well as immigration lawyers and immigrant rights advocates.

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About the author (2010)

Kitty Calavita is Chancellor's Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. She has published widely on immigration both in its social and human consequences and in policy and law. Her most recent book is Invitation to Law and Society: An Introduction to the Study of Real Law (University of Chicago Press, 2010).

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