America's immigration policy fiasco: Learning from past mistakes

Douglas S. Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


In this essay I discuss how and why U.S. policies intended to stop Latin American immigration to the United States not only failed, but proved counterproductive by ultimately accelerating the rate of both documented and undocumented migration from Mexico and Central America to the United States. As a result, the Latino population grew much faster than demographers had originally projected and the undocumented population grew to an unprecedented size. Mass illegality is now the greatest barrier to the successful integration of Latinos, and a pathway to legalization represents a critical policy challenge. If U.S. policy-makers wish to avoid the failures of the past, they must shift from a goal of immigration suppression to one of immigration management within an increasingly integrated North American market.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-15
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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