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In which John discusses The Mexican Repatriation of the 1930s, a story from U.S. History he learned about only recently. SOURCES:

The most comprehensive history of this period I found is a book called Decade of Betrayal by Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez. It was there I first learned the story of Jose Lopez.

The wikipedia article about The Repatriation of the Great Depression-era is quite good:

The 2017 paper that found the deportations either has no impact on U.S. unemployment or else made it slightly worse:

This NPR story connects some of the current concerns about immigration to the Repatriation:

This analysis found that a majority of the most commonly used U.S. history textbooks do not mention the deportations that occurred during the Depression:

I got the map in this video from this page that is also a good introduction to the land annexation that happened due to the Mexican-American War and the Gadsden Purchase:

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J: Good morning Hank it’s Tuesday.

Recently I was researching Dorothea Lange’s famous migrant mother photograph and I learned something that was never covered in any of my US history classes, which is that during the Great Depression, the United States deported at least 400,000 and possibly as many as 2 million Mexican-Americans most of whom were US citizens.

This came to be known as the “Mexican repatriation” although as scholars have pointed out since many of the people involved had never lived in or even been to Mexico, it was more of a de-patriation.

Okay, a bit of historical context, in the mid-19th century the United States took a bunch of land from Mexico including all of California and Arizona as a result of the Mexican-American war and the Gadsden Purchase, and the people who lived in those communities who had been Mexican citizens became US citizens.

Then in the early 20th century the violence and economics disruption of the Mexican revolution led lots of people to seek refuge in the United States, also the border between the US and Mexico wasn’t formally regulated until 1917; right, so its 1930, the great depression is under way, unemployment is rising, as in anti-immigrant sentiment, and the administration of president Herbert Hoover is promising “real jobs for real Americans” and Hoover’s labor secretary believes that deportations would decrease unemployment, a line of thinking that has proven extraordinarily durable, even though it isn’t true, like national economies are not some zero-sum game where removing people from the workforce creates jobs.

In fact, a 20171 study about the Mexican repatriation found that, the deportations either had no effect on unemployment or else made it slightly worse.

By the way, link’s to the sources in the doobly-doo.

Also I know contemporary conversations about US immigration are highly polarized but I think it’s important to note that on the 30s the push for deportation came from both from what today would be considered the left and the right, like many labor unions called for deportations for instance but so did the conservatives Hoover administration.

Amid all of this local municipalities began rounding up Mexicns or Americans of Mexican descent or at times anyone judged to have brown skin.

Police officers or other officials would surround parks or neighbourhoods where Mexican Americans lived and then take people onto trucks and drive them to Mexico or else drive them to train stations where chartered trains took them to Mexico.Now these deportations took many forms,some were caused by a mix of coercion and discrimination

Like for instance many cities passed laws saying that Mexican Americans couldn’t work for city governments.The federal government also encouraged large private companies to fire their Mexican American workers, which many companies did,but there were also other strategies to force people out of the US like for instance some hospital patients were literally wheeled out of hospitals and put on trucks and driven to Mexico.

There were sometimes legal proceedings and if you could prove citizenship which many people couldn’t at the because such documentation was uncommon at the time,you might be allowed to stay but you also might not-it varied dramatically from city to city and it was extremely chaotic but in general those threatened with deportation had almost no legal recourse and as a result, at a minimum 100s of 1000s of US citizens were deported to Mexico.

The US government has never apologised for the repatriation and it’s not even mentioned in most US history textbooks and this isn’t like ancient history,there are lots of people alive today who lived through this:One of them for instance was a 5 year old boy named Jose Lopez who despite being born in Detroit was deported,in fact when he got to Mexico he was teased because he didn’t speak Spanish.jose Lopez’s parents would go on to die in exile as did one of his siblings but he returned to the United States in 1944 after trying to prove his citizenship for 14 years.He worked for his entire career at Ford Moter company,became a home owner and a dedicated volunteer in his community,all 3 of his kids went to collage,one is now an attorney but there is also no getting back everything that Lopez lost as a result of his unjust and illegal deportation.

Lopez is American and his story is an American story and telling that story will never be unpatriotic .

Hank,I’ll see you on Friday