The boundary was established in 1848 after the U.S -Mexican War ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. But it wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that Mexico’s own revolution and subsequent border wars, followed by the Great Depression, prompted the United States to send soldiers, push Mexicans out of the country and strongly enforce its southern border. In 1924, Congress passed the Labor Appropriation Act, officially establishing the U.S. Border Patrol for the purpose of securing the borders between inspection stations. And in 1934, the first Border Patrol Academy opened as a training school in El Paso. In her book “Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border,” Rachel St. John writes that today’s border apparatus stems from the 1930s.
The inspection of goods. The impatience and eagerness of waiting. The anticipation of opportunity. The determination. Lange’s images, while uniquely of their time, capture both the recognizable signs of bureaucracy and the timelessness of life on the periphery.