Border fences have a long history in the United States, and that history is deeply entangled with the rise of the carceral state. As fences along the U.S.-Mexico border grew over the course of the twentieth century, they increasingly restricted the mobility of migrants both as they crossed the U.S.-Mexico divide and once they were within U.S. territory. This article analyzes how fear of being apprehended, arrested, detained, or deported has forced migrants to remain in the shadows; and it argues that as border fences expanded in length and height, they transformed the United States into a massive, carceral state.

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