Creating the exclusionist society: from the War on Poverty to the war on immigrants

Douglas S. Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A series of policy decisions beginning in 1965 produced an exclusionist climate in the United States. Lyndon Johnson sought to eliminate prejudice from the nation’s immigration system but inadvertently curtailed opportunities for legal entry from Mexico that created a large undocumented population. In waging the Cold War, Ronald Reagan launched an intervention in Central America that displaced many more thousands who also became undocumented residents. The Wars on Crime and Drugs of Presidents Nixon and Reagan created a prison industrial complex that imprisoned blacks and Hispanics. George Bush’s War on Terror unleashed a rising tide of deportations swept Latino migrants into the immigrant detention system. Finally, President Trump transformed a humanitarian problem affecting Central American families and children into a manufactured immigration crisis for the nation as a whole. The result is among the most repressive and exclusionist context of immigrant reception in American history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-37
Number of pages20
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Immigration
  • borders
  • context of reception
  • deportation
  • enforcement
  • undocumented migrants


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