Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 38 (1), 1-29

Unintended Consequences of US Immigration Policy: Explaining the post-1965 Surge From Latin America

Affiliations

Unintended Consequences of US Immigration Policy: Explaining the post-1965 Surge From Latin America

Douglas S Massey et al. Popul Dev Rev.

Abstract

Immigration reforms in the United States initiated in the 1960s are widely thought to have opened the door to mass immigration from Asia and Latin America by eliminating past discriminatory policies. While this may be true for Asians, it is not the case for Latin Americans, who faced more restrictions to legal migration after 1965 than before. The boom in Latin American migration occurred in spite of rather than because of changes in US immigration law. In this article we describe how restrictions placed on the legal entry of Latin Americans, and especially Mexicans, set off a chain of events that in the ensuing decades had the paradoxical effect of producing more rather than fewer Latino immigrants. We offer an explanation for how and why Latinos in the United States, in just 40 years, increased from 9.6 million people and 5 percent of the population to 51 million people and 16 percent of the population, and why so many are now present without authorization.

Figures

FIGURE 1
FIGURE 1. Mexican immigration to the United States in three categories, 1955–95
SOURCE: US Department of Homeland Security (2012). See text and Table A1.
FIGURE 2
FIGURE 2. Frequency of pairing of the terms “flood,” “crisis,” or “invasion” with “Mexico“ or “Mexican immigrants,” in four leading US newspapers (three-year moving average), 1965–1995
SOURCE: Proquest Historical Newspaper Files.
FIGURE 3
FIGURE 3. Annual number of apprehensions and estimated illegal entries, 1955–1995
SOURCE: US Department of Homeland Security (2012). See text and Table A1.
FIGURE 4
FIGURE 4
Feedback loop between apprehensions and border enforcement, 1965–1995
FIGURE 5
FIGURE 5. Intensity of border enforcement, 1955–1995
SOURCE: US Department of Homeland Security (2012). See text and Table A1.
FIGURE 6
FIGURE 6. Annual deportations from the United States, 1955–2009
SOURCE: US Department of Homeland Security (2012). See text and Table A1.
FIGURE 7
FIGURE 7
Feedback loop between deportations and internal enforcement, 1965–2009
FIGURE 8
FIGURE 8. Percentage of Mexicans admitted outside the country quota as relatives of US citizens, 1990–2010
SOURCE: US Department of Homeland Security (2012).

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 20 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback