Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

First Advisor

Thomas W. Zeiler

Second Advisor

Mark Pittenger

Third Advisor

Fredy Gonzalez

Fourth Advisor

Robert Buffington

Fifth Advisor

Lorraine Bayard de Volo

Abstract

By exploring U.S.-Mexican debates over the issue of immigration restriction during the 1920s and 1930s, this dissertation shows that immigration affects foreign relations. I argue that immigration altered diplomacy between the United States and Mexico when the U.S. Congress attempted to extend an immigration quota to Mexican migrants entering the United States. These efforts arose in the wake of similar efforts to limit the inflow of people from Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe. The main difference, however, was that attempts to restrict Asian and certain kinds of European immigration were successful while efforts to place Mexican immigration under a similar restriction scheme were not. This dissertation asks why that was so, and concludes by arguing that the peculiarities of U.S.-Mexico relations ultimately barred attempts to restrict—legislatively at least—Mexican immigration to the United States. Mexican immigration was not restricted, despite the formidable effort of certain American congressmen and Cabinet officials, because the need to preserve harmonious relations with Mexico overrode the need to bar the entry of its citizens. No other historian has studied how (the prospect) of immigration restriction affected U.S.-Mexico relations, or how the essentially domestic issue of immigration policy of the United States had consequences for its foreign relations.

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