The deportations highlighted white Americans’ anti-immigrant sentiments and encouraged resentment on behalf of both Mexican nationals and Mexican Americans.
After the Great Depression struck in 1929, rapidly rising unemployment provoked white Americans to perceive Mexican nationals and even Mexican Americans as the main source of competition for jobs. Anti-immigrant, and particularly anti-Mexican, sentiment was on the rise, as white Americans deemed themselves more worthy of relief aid and jobs than “foreigners” in the country.
In order to quell white Americans’ anxiety and desperation during the Great Depression, Secretary of Labor
The mass exodus may have affected as many as two million people of Mexican ancestry, half of whom had been born in the United States. Authorities ignored the fact that some of the repatriated people were naturalized U.S. citizens and that others were citizens by virtue of birth in the United States. Merely having a Spanish surname could subject a person to screening. Deportation raids of public and private spaces occurred all over the country, as Mexicans were not isolated to specific regions, working in both industrial sectors as well as migrant farmworker communities.
The federal government allowed cities, counties, and states to manage repatriation as deemed necessary. Nativism
Nonetheless, some American groups were opposed to these repatriations, especially the ranchers and agricultural growers in the Southwest who needed Mexicans as a source of cheap and exploitable labor. Mexicans, these growers claimed, did the work that other Americans were unwilling to do. The repatriation policy threatened the businesses of these growers, as they could lose crops. Merchants too realized that Mexicans were integral to their businesses. During the repatriations, merchants lost profits from their loyal Mexican customers. Moreover, bankers were concerned as Mexicans withdrew their money as they anticipated repatriation. Despite such opposition, repatriates continued to be pushed southward.
Acuña, Rodolfo F. Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. 6th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. Balderrama, Francisco, and Raymond Rodríguez. Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930’s. Rev. ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006. Vargas, Zaragosa. Labor Rights Are Civil Rights: Mexican American Workers in Twentieth-Century America. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Border Patrol, U.S.
Contract labor system
El Paso incident