LATINO VOICES
02/08/2017 12:34 pm ET

27 Photos Show The U.S.-Mexico Border's Transformation

Here's a glimpse into the history.
Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress

In his first week in office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for the construction of the border wall he promised during his campaign.

Trump’s wall would likely cost billions, but the president has said the U.S. government would pay for the structure only until Mexico, inexplicably, reimburses the costs. 

If the wall is built, it would only be the most recent instance of further militarizing the U.S.-Mexico border, which already has about 650 miles of fencing

Congress established the Border Patrol in 1924, the same year the Immigration Act of 1924 called for a limit in the number of immigrants who entered the United States via a national origins quota. Plenty has changed since, but the Border Patrol’s efforts to stop illegal immigration has grown dramatically over the years. 

In 2003 the U.S Border Patrol became a part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a component of the Department of Homeland Security, which was formed after 9/11. A few years later, then-President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, adding hundreds of miles onto the fence at the southwest border. 

Here are 27 photos that offer a glimpse into the U.S.-Mexico border’s history.

  • May 1920s
    U.S. border guards check entering Mexicans
    Philipp Kester/ullstein bild via Getty Images
    U.S. border guards check entering Mexicans
  • May 1920s
    U.S. border guard and Mexicans behind the border fence.
    ullstein bild via Getty Images
    U.S. border guard and Mexicans behind the border fence.
  • March 21, 1929
    A line of cars carrying Mexicans over the border into California. The fence in the foreground is the border; the line of cars
    Hulton Archive via Getty Images
    A line of cars carrying Mexicans over the border into California. The fence in the foreground is the border; the line of cars is in the main street of Mexicali.
  • 1930s
    A flock of sheep at the border between Mexico and the United States.
    Keystone-France via Getty Images
    A flock of sheep at the border between Mexico and the United States.
  • June 1937
    A pic of state border plant inspection maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture between Mexico and the Unite
    A pic of state border plant inspection maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture between Mexico and the United States. Shoppers returning from Mexico (Juarez) to the United States (El Paso) over the bridge that carries all the traffic are required to open their packages for inspection.
  • June 1937
    Crossing the international bridge between Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas.
    Crossing the international bridge between Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas.
  • June 1937
    Mexicans entering the United States via the United States immigration station at El Paso, Texas.
    Mexicans entering the United States via the United States immigration station at El Paso, Texas.
  • 1943
    U.S. soldiers exchanging money at the U.S.-Mexico border.
    The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
    U.S. soldiers exchanging money at the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • March 15, 1950
    A view of the Sigma Pi sorority crossing under the Mexico border sign to Tijuana, Mexico in Calexico, California.
    Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
    A view of the Sigma Pi sorority crossing under the Mexico border sign to Tijuana, Mexico in Calexico, California.
  • 1950s
    Pregnant woman at the border.
    Keystone-France via Getty Images
    Pregnant woman at the border.
  • 1954
    Mexican farm laborers standing on the Mexican side of the border trying to get into the U.S.
    J. R. Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
    Mexican farm laborers standing on the Mexican side of the border trying to get into the U.S.
  • 1954
    Mexican workers waiting just inside the U.S. border to be let in.
    Bettmann via Getty Images
    Mexican workers waiting just inside the U.S. border to be let in.
  • October 1, 1962
    A border guard checks passes of Mexicans entering the United States near Nogales, Mexico.
    James P. Blair/National Geographic/Getty Images
    A border guard checks passes of Mexicans entering the United States near Nogales, Mexico.
  • 1967
    Mexican workers crossing the border into Texas have their papers checked.
    Shel Hershorn via Getty Images
    Mexican workers crossing the border into Texas have their papers checked.
  • Sept. 22 1984
    Suspected undocumented immigrants cross into the U.S. from Tijuana, Mexico.
    Bettmann via Getty Images
    Suspected undocumented immigrants cross into the U.S. from Tijuana, Mexico.
  • 1990
    Men look across to the other side of the Tijuana border.
    Richard Perry via Getty Images
    Men look across to the other side of the Tijuana border.
  • 1990
    Woman walking along the America-Mexico border, near Tijuana.
    Serge Attal via Getty Images
    Woman walking along the America-Mexico border, near Tijuana.
  • 1993
    U.S. Customs agents patrolling the border.
    David Turnley via Getty Images
    U.S. Customs agents patrolling the border.
  • 1994
    At first light, undocumented immigrants wait to cross over into the United States.
    Gregory Smith via Getty Images
    At first light, undocumented immigrants wait to cross over into the United States.
  • 1994
    Undocumented immigrants wait on the other side of Mexico.
    Gregory Smith via Getty Images
    Undocumented immigrants wait on the other side of Mexico.
  • Aug. 19, 1997
    Esther Pereyra Rubalcaba (left) kisses her daughter Patricia through the wall separating the US and Min Tijuana, Mexico.
    HECTOR MATA via Getty Images
    Esther Pereyra Rubalcaba (left) kisses her daughter Patricia through the wall separating the US and Min Tijuana, Mexico.
  • July 20, 2005
    Migrant activists lean against the border fence to pay homage to undocumented immigrants who died crossing over.
    David McNew via Getty Images
    Migrant activists lean against the border fence to pay homage to undocumented immigrants who died crossing over.
  • Aug. 28, 2005
    Young Mexican nationals peer through the border wall at the beach along San Ysidro, California.
    Sandy Huffaker via Getty Images
    Young Mexican nationals peer through the border wall at the beach along San Ysidro, California.
  • June 6, 2015
    Paper doves in the shape of a heart are seen at the border fence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
    Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters
    Paper doves in the shape of a heart are seen at the border fence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
  • Sept. 25, 2016
    Maria Rodriguez Torres, 70, looks towards her departing grandchildren after seeing them for the first time at the U.S.-Mexico
    John Moore via Getty Images
    Maria Rodriguez Torres, 70, looks towards her departing grandchildren after seeing them for the first time at the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico. She had traveled with family members from Mexico City to see her grandchildren through the fence at "Friendship Park."
  • Oct. 6, 2016
    A burnt car is seen next to a section of the wall separating Mexico and the United States in Tijuana, Mexico.
    Edgard Garrido / Reuters
    A burnt car is seen next to a section of the wall separating Mexico and the United States in Tijuana, Mexico.
  • Feb. 4, 2017
    A visitor stands next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence at Friends of Friendship Park in San Ysidro, California.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    A visitor stands next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence at Friends of Friendship Park in San Ysidro, California.
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