Mexican repatriation of the 1930s

A Decade of Betrayal

1500-Mexicans-Loaded-on-TrainsI was catching up with a month of four-minute vlogbrothers videos when I got up to John Green’s piece on Mexican repatriation. He was researching a famous painting when he came across a bit of terrible US history that wasn’t in any of the textbooks that either of us had read.

It’s not a secret – there’s even a decent Wikipedia page about it. The narrative is that in the early stages of the Great Depression, there was, of course, a scarcity of jobs. The Secretary of Labor William N. Doak suggested that if there were fewer people, there would be fewer unemployed, and, as President Herbert Hoover put it, “real jobs for real Americans.” This did not prove to be the case.

From The Atlantic: “According to former California State Senator Joseph Dunn, who in 2004 began an investigation into the Hoover-era deportations, ‘the Republicans decided the way they were going to create jobs was by getting rid of anyone with a Mexican-sounding name.'”

A Decade of Betrayal

Professor Francisco Balderrama has literally written the book on the actions, A Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s. He notes that Mexicans were targeted because of the proximity of the Mexican border and the physical distinctiveness of the people.

“The federal government imposed restrictions for immigrant labor as well, requiring firms that supply the government with goods and services refrain from hiring immigrants and, as a result, most larger corporations followed suit, and as a result, many employers fired their Mexican employees and few hired new Mexican workers causing unemployment to increase among the Mexican population.”

The term “repatriation: was actually inaccurate, since up to 60% of those sent to Mexico were U.S. citizens: American-born children of Mexican-descent who had never been to Mexico and often did not speak Spanish.

It wasn’t a unified plan. “In Los Angeles,” explained Balderrama, “they had orderlies who gathered people [in the hospitals] and put them in stretchers on trucks and left them at the border.” Others would round up people up in parks and scanning public employee rolls for Mexican-sounding names and send them on special trains out of the country.

From Timeline: In downtown LA “during the 1930s, La Placita Catholic church was a social hub for Mexican Americans and immigrants…

“On February 26th, 1931, they sealed off the area around the church before anyone could realize what was happening and began arresting suspected undocumented immigrants en masse. Families watched in horror as their spouses, friends, and colleagues — 400 people in total — were loaded into vans, and eventually shipped back to Mexico. Many of those detained had been in the country so long they didn’t speak Spanish.”

Read more at this NPR or Teen Vogue. I believe that knowing our history makes us better citizens.

August rambling #2: artificial – flowers and televangelists

A Marvin Gaye/Ramones mashup.

librarian.mug

How a ’50s-Era New York Knife Law Landed Thousands in Jail.

Jeff Sharlet interviews Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King.

No matter how sincerely we think we get it, we don’t really get it. “A personal epiphany about race and gender, to my fellow white males.” And Please Stop Being a Good White Person (TM).

Donald Trump Just Stopped Being Funny. “Win or lose, Trump’s campaign threatens to unleash the Great American Stupid.”

About Josh Duggar’s Ashley Madison Account. Am I the only person who had never HEARD of Ashley Madison until this summer? Continue reading “August rambling #2: artificial – flowers and televangelists”

Goodbye, Columbus?

jackson20Goodbye, Columbus – was that a Philip Roth novel or a song by the Association (#80 in 1969)? Ah, my annual ambivalence about Columbus Day.

This is related: did you ever wonder why Hispanic Heritage Month runs from mid-September to mid-October?

The reason why September 15 was chosen as the official start of the month was it is the anniversary of independence of a number of Latin American countries…

The 30-day celebration acknowledges the huge impact the Latino community has had on shaping the United States into the country it is today. From Christopher Columbus’ first contact with the indigenous peoples of the Americas in 1492, to the Spanish colonies of the West to the fortress of St. Augustine, Florida — the oldest continuous European settlement in North America – founded in 1565, decades before Jamestown, Virginia.

Hispanics have been in this country longer than anyone beside Native Americans.

I’ve written before that while Columbus’ voyages started a chain of events that were often obviously terrible for American Indians, slapping ALL the blame on him individually seems unmeasured. Though, if the Seattle School Board wants to observe ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’ on the Columbus holiday, that’s fine by me.

On the other hand, if you wanted to dump Andrew Jackson from the $20, I could definitely go for that. An ad for a book I have not read – An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:

[She] adroitly challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military. Shockingly, as the genocidal policy reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, its ruthlessness was best articulated by US Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.

He is arguably the most shameful American.

I do like this:
From Etsy’s Bold Statement – No More Redsk*ns powwows: “Another small victory for the Change the Mascot movement. Effective immediately Etsy will no longer allow any item to be sold via their website that includes the Washington NFL team’s logo or the term Redsk*ns.”

A down payment at least: U.S. To Pay Navajo Nation $554 Million in Largest Single Tribe Settlement in History.

This is an ad about indigenous Australians, but the sentiments are applicable much more widely.