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Line in the SandA History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border$
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Rachel St. John

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691141541

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691141541.001.0001

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Like Night and Day

Like Night and Day

Regulating Morality with the Border

(p.148) Chapter Six Like Night and Day
Line in the Sand

Rachel St. John

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how U.S. prohibitions prompted the growth of border vice districts and alcohol and drug smuggling along the boundary line and explores the conflict that arose on both sides of the border over how the nation-states could or should use border controls to stymie these developments. By the 1920s, both Americans and Mexicans had become aware that the border control apparatus that the states had erected on the border for national defense and customs enforcement could also be used for new state prerogatives, including morality regulation. However, the conditional controls—including the early closing of border gates—raised questions about who had the right to regulate the boundary line and on what basis they should be allowed to enforce that control. While American reformers lauded the establishment of early closing hours, many business people, bureaucrats, and Mexican nationalists challenged the U.S. government's authority to unilaterally use the boundary line for the purposes of enforcing moral standards.

Keywords:   U.S. prohibitions, border vice districts, smuggling, border controls, morality regulation, moral standards

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