Kelly Lytle-Hernandez

Kelly Lytle-Hernandez

Professor, History and African American Studies


Division of Social Sciences

Areas of Expertise:

Civil RIghts, Criminal Justice, Immigration/Immigrant Rights


Kelly Lytle-Hernandez is one of the nation’s leading historians of race, policing, immigration, and incarceration in the United States. Her award-winning book, “MIGRA! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol” (University of California Press, 2010), explored the making and meaning of the U.S. Border Patrol in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, arguing that the century-long surge of U.S. immigration law enforcement in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands is a story of race in America. Her forthcoming book, “City of Inmates: Conquest and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles” (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), is an unsettling tale that spans two centuries to unearth the long rise of incarceration as a social institution bent toward disappearing targeted populations from land, life, and society in the United States. It does so with six extraordinary stories detailing when, why, and how the dynamics of conquest made Los Angeles the carceral capital of the world. By the 1950s, she argues, incarceration was a complex and well-oiled machine of elimination targeting blacks, Natives, and Latinos. In the years ahead, the rise of mass incarceration amounted to mass elimination.

Professor Lytle-Hernández’s award-winning article, “The Crimes and Consequences of Illegal Immigration,” provides one of the most comprehensive and deeply researched historical analyses of Operation Wetback of 1954.

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Selected Books and Publications

Research Interests


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