The literature on Latin American migration to the United States is vast, and a bibliography of this sort must necessarily be highly selective. The literature includes studies by sociologists, economists, anthropologists, political scientists, and surprisingly few historians. Immigration, of course, directly involves issues of public policy, and much of the literature on the topic was produced with a view toward influencing that policy. Such literature tends to be of an ephemeral character. A review of that literature might provide useful snapshots of particular policy issues at given points in history, but preference has been given here to works of real substance that contain a strong historical dimension. Immigration is, of course, a perennial “hot button” issue that has attracted, and continues to attract, its share of polemics that seek more to alarm than to enlighten. Readers who wish to learn about such works can consult studies of nativism that are listed here. Readers will no doubt notice the preponderance of works about Mexican migration to the United States. That is because Mexicans make up by far the largest percentage of Latin American migrants to the United States—an estimated 94 percent. The Border Patrol has long been in the habit of dividing immigrants into two categories: Mexicans and “Other than Mexicans” (OTMs). It should hardly be surprising, then, that the lion’s share of the literature on the topic of Latin American migration to the United States focuses on Mexican migration. Another, much smaller, body of literature deals with migration from Central American and/or the Caribbean. Migration from South America to the United States has been too insignificant to attract much scholarly attention. The literature on migration from Central America and Cuba presents special challenges because there is an important distinction to be made between those who migrate for economic reasons and those who migrate for political reasons.
General Overviews of US Immigration
Migration from Latin America is only one part of the general panorama of migration to the United States, and it cannot readily be understood without reference to the general sweep of US migration history. Latin Americans have affected and been affected by periodic reforms of US immigration policy. Included, therefore, are some of the outstanding works on US immigration that deal with Latin American immigration as part of a larger context. Useful surveys of US immigration policy include Tichenor 2002 and Zolberg 2006, while other works examine particular aspects of immigration. Ngai 2004 focuses in particular on the phenomenon of illegal migration, noting the changes in US immigration law that shaped this phenomenon, while Reimers 2005 looks principally at “newer” migrants who came in the wake of the 1965 law that ended racist “national origins” quotas. Spickard 2007 both reviews the history of immigration to the United States and challenges the notion of an American “melting pot.”
Daniels, Roger. Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life. 2d ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
Broad overview of immigration to the United States from colonial times to the present.
Ngai, Mae M. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.
Award-winning book that traces the concept of “illegal aliens” from the earliest restrictionist legislation in the 1920s to the immigration reform of 1965. Considers migration from Mexico as well as from the Philippines, Japan, and China. Argues that immigration restriction has colored Americans’ racial attitudes and their preoccupation with policing the borders.
Reimers, David. Other Immigrants: The Global Origins of the American People. New York: New York University Press, 2005.
Focuses on immigration to the United States in the wake of the 1965 immigration reform that abolished the “national origins” system of 1924 and paved the way for more diverse, multiethnic immigration of Africans, Asians, and Hispanics.
Spickard, Paul. Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity. New York: Routledge, 2007.
Massive (744-page) volume that considers immigration and ethnicity from about 1600 to the present. Argues against the “assimilationist” model of immigration, contending that Asian, Hispanic, and African immigrants are seldom accepted by many Anglo-Americans as “real” Americans.
Tichenor, Daniel J. Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.
Sweeping history of US immigration policy from late colonial times to the present. Focused largely on political conflicts spawned by immigration.
Zolberg, Aristide. A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006.
Sweeping history of US immigration policy from late colonial times to the present, considering political and social context of various immigration reforms.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions and individuals. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email email@example.com to express your interest.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Antislavery Narratives
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500-1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521-1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in Nineteenth-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- São Paulo
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas