The American border wall: a history of legal division

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article investigates the role the law has played in the construction of the US–Mexico border wall. It explores two episodes of wall-building in American history: the first surrounding the adoption of the Act of August 19, 1935, and the second the adoption of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, both authorizing the erection of a fence at the U.S.-Mexico border. The article observes that for each episode, the law provided the sites for the deployment of narratives that constructed Mexicans as “others,” instituting legal precedents that informed increasingly explicit and ambitious legal provisions for the construction of a border wall.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-193
Number of pages18
JournalLaw, Culture and the Humanities
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • US–Mexico border wall
  • history
  • legal narrative
  • legal theory


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