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No One Is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border
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No One Is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  308 ratings  ·  33 reviews
No One Is Illegal debunks the leading ideas behind the often violent right-wing backlash against immigrants.

Countering the chorus of anti-immigrant voices, Mike Davis and Justin Akers Chacón expose the racism of anti-immigration vigilantes and put a human face on the immigrants who risk their lives to cross the border to work in the United States.

Davis and Akers Chacón cha
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Haymarket Books
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Mar 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Reflecting on my time in the ISO, this is one of the few Haymarket books I read that is worth slightly more than the paper it is printed on. Even so, after Mike Davis' section on the history of vigilantism in California, the rest of the book is the typically party-linish fluff that you could hear from the mouth of any ISO apparatchik. That Justin Akers Chacon wrote the second half of this book is irrelevant, it could have been any member who has been around the organization long enough for the p ...more
B Sarv
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No one is illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.–Mexico Border by Justin Akers Chacón and Mike Davis

Considering the racist nature of public policy in the United States, there was little surprising in this book. It is a detailed and well-documented compilation of the legacy of oppression of immigrants in the United States - regardless of their documentation. While this book can stand alone, and is quite excellent, for additional illumination of the subjects in this book I would a
Jul 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who enjoy researching both sides of the issues
Recommended to Chelsea by: Melissa Wojnaroski
I have learned SO MUCH about the history of our immigration laws as well as how all different kinds of immigrants have been treated since the birth of the United States. As I'm trying to shape my own views on the whole immigration issue that has been circling the main stream media lately this book has really helped me understand where the issues are coming from, the history behind them. I've always heard that the knowledge of history helps an individual keep from repeating the bad parts. Maybe i ...more
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent accessible background on the forces that led to US foreign intervention and destabilization of economies in the global south + capitalism driving the migration of people into US as cheap undocumented labor. Ties together capitalism, immigration and labor systems and overlays the racist white supremacist violence that has always plagued the country, which uses immigrants as scapegoats pitted against white working class
May 07, 2007 rated it liked it
I'd say 3.5 stars, mainly because I felt that many parts of the book were too brief, and that, overall, the tone, though justifiably outraged, just didn't seem "scholarly." To be honest, my feelings on this matter are conflicted and complicated, but I"ll just leave it at that. ...more
Dan Sharber
amazing easy to read book about the history of immigrant struggles. it was amazing to me how a certain group would be vilified at one point only to be embraced later when another group was hated. this happened wit the chinese, japanese, filipino etc etc etc...
B Sarv
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
No one is illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.–Mexico Border by Justin Akers Chacón and Mike Davis

Considering the racist nature of public policy in the United States, there was little surprising in this book. It is a detailed and well-documented compilation of the legacy of oppression of immigrants in the United States - regardless of their documentation. While this book can stand alone, and is quite excellent, for additional illumination of the subjects in this book I would a
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Definitely should have taken notes.

It is important to realize that this book was put out by Haymarket Books a radical socialist publisher so the information within is presented with an anti-capitalist lens. It wasn't exactly what I was looking to learn about immigration and racism but it's important to shake up my perspective (as a white lady consumer) every once in a while. It was simultaneously heartening and discouraging to read that the rhetoric being employed today has a long history. None
Jun 21, 2018 rated it liked it
In no way was this book a bad book. The authors have a progressive bias; Davis and Chacon used to book to argue, as the title suggests, that no one is illegal. The book was also used to argue for a borderless nation: capitalism needs and wants borders whereas the working class doesn't and suffers because of it. The authors also demonstrate how immigration and the rapid militarization of the border isn't just a Republican issue. Both Democrats and Republicans militarized the border fully aware of ...more
Nov 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Immigration law and deportation have been crafted and implemented over the years not to streamline citizenship or stop immigration but to permanently fragment the working class. The comprehensive appropriation of the state apparatus of immigration control by capital has created the “illegal” worker, and entirely artificial construction whose sole purpose is to deprive the international “American” working class of its democratic rights.
p 199

Their main goal is not to “protect” the physical borders
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Would recommend to the following groups: People who support a border wall, Trump supporters who "aren't racist", liberals who are surprised Trump won, liberals surprised at anti-immigrant and racist sentiments, people interested in labour movements, people interested in learning more about immigration, " pro-lifers" who advocate more border control

A great book that details the history of anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S., while going into ideas of borders and some of the history of the labour
Nov 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Mixture of informative social history of the US south west and its class struggles over immigration and rather strident agit-prop. Read it over a week when I was due to watch, and provide comment as a discusaant, a screen of 'Welcome to Shelbyville'. Helped me to clarify throughts on the whole 'US as a country built by migrants' bit - which is obviously true by terribly soft focus, rose-tinted stuff. ...more
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is extremely informative on the history of immigration. I enjoyed how the book was split into sections and also the authors' objectivity. It isn't extremely detailed but it does give a great overview of all of the issues. The ending could be a bit controversial when they suggest that socialism is the only way to end immigration issues and racism, but it didn't override the purpose of the book. I highly recommend this book! ...more
Dec 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
I actually couldn't finish reading this. I read 50 pages in and despite the fact that this is a subject I'm very interested in and fully support, I couldn't take all the incendiary vocabulary. I wanted to read the facts and decide for myself how I felt about the situation. Instead, I was guided from the get-go into thinking lawmakers were monsters. I didn't appreciate that. Lots of good information, but again, the diction just turned me off. ...more
Liam Hanlon
Aug 12, 2011 is currently reading it
Have read about half so far. Is interesting to find out about the history of white vigilantism against migrant workers who dared to organise themselves in the early US west coast days through to current day fascist groups putting the lives of immigrants at risks, immigrants who have come to the US thanks to the pursuit of neoliberal policies from their governments pushed by the US government.
Aug 12, 2007 rated it liked it
four stars just cause i like mike davis.
Jan 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Very interesting contribution to the debate on immigration. Essential for anyone who does not see the debate as black and white. Very quick read, entertaing and extremely informative.
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very good book that illustrates past battles over immigration as well as the current ones and situates them within their proper economic context.
David Martin
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Perfect book if u need to reference immigration issues. This books also points u in the right direction for many other topics. All around good read.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very engrossing text on the history of migrant workers and their role in creating America, the revulsion, racism and injustices they endured. The main focus is on Mexicans who found after the Mexican American War found that the border had move hundreds of miles south of them, and while now within the boundaries of the United States were stripped of all rights, their properties confiscated, driven off their land and had laws passed that stripped them of all rights to any justice or citizenship.
Claudia U.
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
No One is Illegal is a superb analysis into the long history of immigration and immigrant working class struggle in the United States. Reading this book in the age of Trump and blatant white supremacy is utterly jarring as the book explores traditional tropes that have fueled backlash and damning policies against working class immigrants through the last hundred years, particularly undocumented agricultural workers. The book is divided in two parts, with the initial chapters focused on the first ...more
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book tells the history of immigration in the US in sometimes excruciating detail. I’ve always wondered why so many immigrants flocked to the US, and this question seemed more nuanced than the overarching dismissive excuse that it was for economic opportunity and fleeing bad circumstances.

As someone interested in the role the US played in drawing in tremendous numbers of immigrates, to use for economic exploitation, I found this book absorbing, fascinating, and often horrifying to read. His
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great dive into the roles that (some) unions, nativists, agribusiness, small business owners, and politicians on both sides of the aisle have played in the construction and perpetuation on the anti-immigrant border-focused fear-mongering that has existed throughout our nation's history. Strong on data and facts to back up all its major points, it focuses most heavily on the history of agricultural fieldwork in California, and to a lesser extent across the entire border to Texas. In a Trump wor ...more
Gowdy Cannon
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The title of this book sounds like a superficial liberal platitude but this book has a ton of history and research and citations and only a small part of it is about the present (and even then, it was written 12 year ago now - if it were written today, given the state of American immigration politics, I'm sure it would be three times as long). It definitely has an agenda and little nuance on big points, but history has been written by the winners for so long it was nice to read this perspective. ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A bit outdated if you're following the current immigration fight, but interesting book overall - especially as an overview to the history of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States. I personally felt like the author was a bit dogmatic on his views of socialism and communism, but feel like I learned a lot about immigration issues regardless. ...more
Mike Espejo
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pleasantly surprised to get a super rich history of the west coast labor movement in here. A deep dive into capital's love affair with law enforcement and the Democratic Party's complete inability to maintain a moral position on immigration. ...more
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The content of this book is great - there’s a lot of history there. However, the content felt repetitive and there wasn’t good connecting voice throughout. Better as an academic book to read chapter by chapter rather than a relaxed for-fun read.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
learned a lot from this, wrote tons down. part one seemed a little out of place, at least for the beginning of the book.
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every day you just learn more about how the US is the absolute worst.
Ivan Lau
Jan 07, 2021 rated it liked it
Very informative but it reads like an extended pamphlet.
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Justin Akers Chacón is a professor of U.S. History and Chicano Studies in San Diego, California.

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