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Jennifer Rosenberg

"Mexican Repatriation" During the Great Depression

By September 12, 2004

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During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the U.S. government looked for ways to ease the country's financial hardship. In order to make more jobs available, the government deported more than 500,000 Mexican-Americans in what was called "Mexican Repatriation." However, many of those deported to Mexico were American citizens born in the U.S. These people have never received an apology or public acknowledgement of their suffering. However, there are two bills in California ready to be signed by Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger that would fund a commission to research this event and would allow victims to file claims against the U.S. for damage incurred because of the deportations.


June 14, 2008 at 1:18 pm
(1) Unemployed WASP says:

Multiculturalism has pretty much destroyed the area I grew up in (Los Angeles). Gone are the fields, farms, good jobs, safe manicured lawns filled with whitebread middle class families that supported each other. In their place are hordes of latinos and blacks that have turned the entire area into a very dangerous drugged out cesspool of every type of wickedness. That’s what modern liberal multiculturalism did to my town. Of course, I’m all for repatriation of latinos back to their countries of origin and the area restored to what it once was. I also think blacks should have been repatriated to Africa after the Civil War with massive reparations. That would have been best for everyone.

September 2, 2008 at 2:07 pm
(2) Rosalinda Martinez says:

Repatriation was not the best policy

What a shame that the only comment on this was from a person who really does not know or understand history. My grandparents was repatriated in 1931 after living peacefully and honestly in the U.S for twelve years. Their children were U.S. born and thus citizens who did not have any protection from this “repatriation”. Their return to Mexico was painful and traumatic since they had been raised in the U.S. and spoke English well and were culturally as much American as Mexican. They went to a county they did not know to suffer poverty and years of stuggle before they could re-establish themselves economically and psychologically. When my grandparents entered the U.S. there was no border, no border patrol, no real immigration laws. In 1917 all they had to do was pay $2.00 and present a doctor’s health clearance. Thus, they entered legally,worked hard and contributed to the economy of the U.S. Unfortunatelly, the laws were changed on them and in 1931 they were told “to go back” victims of a policy brought about by fear and prejudice.

September 11, 2008 at 11:06 pm
(3) James B. says:

Well I see someones a bit racisct and prejudice towards those of which they don’t understand. I assume your white because you clearly have no clue what it’s like to struggle like the black man, or be treated unfairly like the latino. Latinos and blacks aren’t given the same opportunities as whites, and that’s B.S.. Repatriation was a ludacris policy, and as far as sending blacks back also, white people brought us here, we didn’t bring ourselves. True, Africa played a huge role in the process of slavery, but the white men were key. Not only did we not create these “cesspools” that you speak of, but we were placed in them. The white man created them in hopes that we (blacks, hispanics, etc.) would eliminate ourselves by placing nothing but despair and signs of no opportunity. If you took a look around those areas, you’d realize the majority of those people have no chances to get out, that’s the only life they know, and the only path they can take. Why is that? Not the blacks, not the lationos fault, but the white man.

September 21, 2008 at 7:33 pm
(4) F.Solis says:

Unemployed WASP says:
“I’m all for repatriation of latinos back to their countries of origin and the area restored to what it once was. I also think blacks should have been repatriated to Africa after the Civil War with massive reparations.”

Sounds good, should we start with all the people of European descent first? I am Native American,as are most people of Mexican-American descent. So I guess I will have to stay behind. By the way wasp, hope you have better luck at finding a job in Europe!

September 24, 2008 at 2:58 pm
(5) Karen says:

I agree with F. Solis regarding “wasp.” Racism and ignorance in this country never ceases to amaze me.

What I would like to know is if the Mexican Americans resisted the unconstitutional deportation in the 1930s, and if so, in what way? I’ve been doing some research on this but haven’t found anything substantial.

October 21, 2008 at 3:54 pm
(6) a concerned american says:

to the unemployed wasp. who so ever gave you the right to decide who should live in this country and who shouldn’t. what country of origion should you be sent back to. Let’s see ….england, germany, russia, poland, france,irland, scotland, holland, italy, greece, finland, sweden. unless you are 100% american indian, than we should repatriate you back to your country of origin. You don’t stand for what this country means. And maybe if those people that you chastise had had your opportunities than maybe they wouldn’t have to scounge for a way to make a living. I am not condoning what they do, but you need to look at the other side of the coin before you spouting you prejudiced and poison thoughts.

November 3, 2008 at 11:53 am
(7) Mary Zerm says:

In response to Blogger #1 First of all, California was part of the country of origin for Mexicans, therefore Mexicans are already in their country of origin, that does not include all “Latinos”..second, Mexican, Latino, Hispanic is not a race, it is simply a word chosen by perhaps corporate America to identify a “group of people” “they” believed had something like language (spanish-some for of it )in common. Mexicans are “white” as the last time I looked Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Greek, Lebanese are all considered belonging to the”white” race and well fortunately or unfortunatley or better or worse Mexicans are made up of one or some of these and other “European” groups. Don’t tell me that you think that your country of origin was the U.S. It hasn’t been around that long…your grand-parents or great grand parents came from another country and if they ended up in California with property, (they probably even married someone of Mexican ancestry and changed their name. (Just a thought)…So perhaps you should go back to your country of origin. Although it is true that many of these people come to this country from Latin American countries, European Countries, Asian countries, all of them countribute and change what we have been born into just like your ancestors did.

June 10, 2009 at 8:43 am
(8) Ali says:

Well I see someones a bit racisct and prejudice towards those of which they don’t understand. I assume your white because you clearly have no clue what it’s like to struggle like the black man, or be treated unfairly like the latino.
Really? What’s “unfair” is to pretend that Latinos were the only ones who were “repatriated”. Large numbers of EUROPEANS (Irish, Czechs, etc.), i.e. white non Hispanics, were repatriated to Europe during the same period. But somehow, no one ever hears about THAT. It’s always that the poor Latinos (many of whom ARE white) have been treated unfairly. Guess what? My ARAB ancestors went through and go through much the same, but I have yet to hear an Hispanic ethnic identity type exhibit any concern for anyone other than their own ethnic group.

June 20, 2009 at 4:13 pm
(9) Rebecca Arce Gray says:

The world will be a much better place when everyone is a “hybrid”. Only then we won’t separate each other on the basis the race or ethnicity…We need to stop the “pecking order” for whatever reason and rise above the other living organisms…and get along for future of our planet. Think gobally! Stop drawing lines in the sand. This comment comes from a hybrid of Native American, Spanish, and English…

October 4, 2009 at 11:00 am
(10) Joe says:

A “hybrid”? You know, Rebecca, a man had a similar idea not too long ago. His name was Hitler. His “Arian” blond haired, blue eyed race was to be the superior race of all the world. No matter the color your dreams are you should take your liberal rose-colored glass of and get some common sense into your head. What would be next after homogenizing race? Religion? Government? Heighth, weight, job status or living standard? Would you homogenize everyone so there could possibly be no strife and we would all live in a facsist, socialistic, lock-step world of blah? Man since his existence has always been torn between his differences with his fellow man. All mankind is either superior or inferior in their race, but it is soley up to them which one they feed.

October 31, 2009 at 4:05 pm
(11) Cali Girl says:

To Ali,
Of course “Hispanics” are concerned about their ethnic group! Just like Whites, Blacks, Asians, Arabs, etc are concerned about their own. I’ve never heard any Arab groups being concerned for any other ethnic group but their own, yet I don’t chastise them for it. I am of Mexican descent, except my family line has dated back to when California was still part of Mexico, and my family struggled back then. Fortunately, none of my family had to go through the horrific Mexican Repatriation. Maybe you should also take note that this particular blog was concerning that subject and that’s why every comment was geared towards such. So before you start spewing out how other ethnic groups (Hispanics namely) feel sorry for themselves, get your facts straight.

November 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm
(12) T. Jasper says:

You know, when is EVERYONE…white, black, Mexican, Asian, German, Czech, or WHATEVER you claim as your heritage …. going to realize that we are all the same color in the eyes of God?? There are good and bad people in EVERY race, there should be no “Pecking order” just all people trying to treat others as they would like to be treated! I know it’s hard to be kind to those that do evil things….like the Muslim at Ft. Hood…..but I don’t think that we are the final word…he’ll get his as OBama said in his speech the other day, “he will be judged in this world and the next” Too bad that everyone can’t have the same sentiments as children, they have no problem with skin color till they are taught to notice the difference while playing in the sand pile!

March 9, 2010 at 10:10 am
(13) Dennis says:

OK bleeding hearts. Unemployed WASP may have been a bit over the top, but so are all of you. It isn’t fair, it isn’t nice, it’s racist, it isn’t politically correct. SO WHAT……. Cry yourselves a river.

By the way, what race is Latino anyway??? I thought it was a culture. Sure, everybody except Native Americans go home, heck why not I’m part Native American too and boy would I like to get the southeastern United States under my control and charge rent or something to all those Europeans and Latinos and Africans living there. But you know what IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN, SO GET OVER IT.

This isn’t about fair, this isn’t about racism, this most definately is not politically correct, PC is likely the absolute most detestable thing my generation ever thrust upon this country and the world.

Does the word illegal mean anything to any of you cry babies? Do you really think we are doning Mexico or any other country any favors by allowing their citizens to come here and work ‘under the radar’? Heck no. Their standards will never change so long as their countries can ship them off here to send their meager wages south. Paychecks going south is the sencond larges wealth generation Mexico has, and that ain’t saying much. Imagine if those same people put that same energy into building up their own countries.

Some of you will say, just make ‘em legal. We tried that in the 1980′s and it did NOTHING………..

Deportation is the only sane answer. Like the old saying goes, “good fences make good neighbors”. It is true for individuals and it is also true for nations.

March 11, 2010 at 1:22 am
(14) Judith Adonay says:

wow this last blogger totally tripped me out…im native american and white and mexican where do you wanna send me?

March 29, 2010 at 6:46 am
(15) unemployed wasp II says:

Yes, after they had finished with blacks the focus had to shift to the whites, who should have been repatriated with no consideration. whites with their flawed capitalism are the source of all evils on earth

May 12, 2010 at 10:42 am
(16) northamericandecent says:

I think it’s fantastic that California Gov wants to research the event. It’s an important part of history which has not been given attention.

The repatriation is a black mark in history literally, where government in Chicago, Illinois and Indiana BLACKED OUT pages and pages of documentation, destroying the truth behind this government act. I read that up to 1/2 of the non-white american population was removed from Chicago and Indiana. “Mexican” is a term that was used to ALIENATE local nonwhites throughout north american, to remove them and make it seem like they deserve deportation when in fact, they were the original people of north America, nomadic.

I am of mixed race, and I would like to see this historic event included in recent U.S. History rather than being considered a ‘special interest’ of a minority. I would like to know more about the facts to this event. Repatriation divided families and changed America, like a secret it was quietly hushed away from the European-American public consciousness.

Only by accepting the deeds of the past, can we better understand how to treat each other with understanding and equanimity.

May 19, 2010 at 4:33 pm
(17) Internet Oldtimer says:

Unemployed WASP is what used to be known as a flamer, and the post he or she wrote was called flamebait. Basically, it means posting an outlandish message in order to receive flames, or incendiary messages from people who who vehemently disagree with the position. Often the flamer does this for effect only.

The best way to deal with a flamer is not to take the bait.

May 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm
(18) Tyler says:

Illegal Mexicans are here not because of the land that once undeveloped claimed by Mexico. They are here to escape from the land they have been long and continuously occupied, in hope of getting more economic opportunity from what’s has become and left of the success of Americans. The problem is that uncontrolled illegal immigration of Mexicans have turned many parts of the West/Southwest into substandard impoverishment (i.e. Los Angeles) similar to one in Mexico. Why would an Illegal Mexican want to relive the life in Mexico here in the U.S by advocating for more illegal immigration?????

June 16, 2010 at 11:19 pm
(19) Mario A.C. says:

Why did everyone come here to begin with? Because what you all are saying about Mexico being so harsh, is actually what was happening world wide, as to why they all came!

First the land was coerced from the Mexicans, then the people, as it has always been. You take someone’s land, you got to pay the price, and not just the 15 million that was tossed at them, after the war was waged, and won, due to superior aggression.

To the Arab guy, how many Mexicans are in your home country? Probably not one. Meanwhile, Arabs are everywhere in Mexico and in the USA.

To the guy who lived in Los Angeles. He obviously lived in the Ghetto. He needs to live in the Ozarks, or Appallachia, and go commune with the folks there about what it is like to live high class. Heck, just go to Michigan, and you’ll find them all over the place; only some of them get better along with the ‘other’ people around them, than you.

The Irish immigrations were a product of the potato famines, which was a plant taken from Native America. The potato allowed the Irish to breed like jack rabbits. When the crops failed, they all came here, just to show you the extent of how Native Americans have helped the world, time and again.

Mexicans are half and halfers. According to the USA, it only takes one eighth to claim Native American, so get over it!

June 16, 2010 at 11:34 pm
(20) Mario A. C. says:

To James B.

Africans were kidnapped. Held hostage, enslaved and tortured. They escaped to parts of Mexico, when Mexico declared independence from Spain, and thus abolished slavery. That is why Texas’ whites got upset and decided to break away from Mexico… because they wouldn’t have anyone to pick the cotton, seeing how they did not want to do it themselves.

Pio Pico is a great example of how wonderfully fair Mexico was back in those days, before California became USA. He was part African and part Mexican. He was also the Governor of California for well into three terms. Of course he had to leave once the exchange took place. Whites and only whites took governor’s office afterwards and since. Pio Pico is now dedicated forever in the naming of certain areas and streets in Los Angeles (Pico blvd.)

July 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm
(21) Becky says:

Maria A.C.
you are wrong about where the Potato originated. The Spanish brought it to Europe in 1536 which is before anyone from outside of North America set foot here.

I think everyone is thinking no one wants Mexicans here which is not true. I am American Indian and don’t want to harp on how badly my race was treated either but the issue is always that people come here and then are upset that it’s not like their home country! We shouldn’t go to an English speaking country and then expect that they will pay for us to learn English or they will pay people to translate for us. That’s not right. Illegal aliens stole my brothers Social Security Number and then he was in trouble with the IRS for not filing taxes in the states that those people worked in. It took him nearly 15 years to straighten out the mess and the IRS garnished his wages, his wife’s wages and nearly led him to bankruptcy before they admitted that as many as 5 people had his SS#. Illegals cost us more than translators. Welcome here but recognize that you must take care of yourself and you must do it legally.

November 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm
(22) Heather says:

To Beccy

Maria did mention where potatoes are from, “which was a plant taken from Native America”. She’s not wrong.

December 9, 2010 at 2:15 am
(23) CHRISTINE says:

I love our country, the United States of America, with it’s magnificent tapestry of people of such divergent backgrounds and beliefs. But we all better get it together, we are at a crucial crossroads with the world looking at us to fall, unable to address our horrible trade imbalances as we continue to consume far beyond what we produce. Please, stop buying all that crap made abroad to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patricks, Valentines Day, etc., etc. that Wal-Mart and others love to peddle – how ridiculous we must seem to those countries that produce all this junk for our consumption. Why do we import garlic from China??? I live in California, we produce lots of beautiful garlic, it makes no sense, I’m sure it’s all political but is has to stop

December 13, 2010 at 9:35 pm
(24) Ashamed to be an American says:

Although Internet Oldtimer’s right, I agree with the verbal assault on Americans. I’m white, American, live in Wisconsin, and couldn’t hate it more. I live near the “ghetto” in Green Bay, and went to the “ghetto” school with all of the Mexicans, Asians and Blacks. I played soccer with the Mexicans, basketball with black people, and had all of my AP classes in high school with most of the Asians. Now I go to college and everyone here is ten times more racist then back in my hometown.
I hate Christopher Columbus. I know who the Greensboro Four are. I have friends who had family in internment camps. I went to Costa Rica, and just to see what would happen, I occasionally told people that I was European instead of American. Those people were ALWAYS nicer to me. I’ve literally left some peoples dorm rooms because they were being so racist that I couldn’t take it. Most Americans are stuck up and assume their better than everyone, and I am disappointed to be one of them.
But although I play REAL futbol, I gotta represent Green Bay…. GO PACKERS

December 23, 2010 at 9:48 pm
(25) MRS CAMPBELL says:


February 3, 2011 at 2:07 am
(26) Alex Reynolds says:

I was reading “Unemployed WASP’s” comment and was surprised by how ignorant some people can be!
1st: You talk about how multiculturalism has destroyed America… This is made under the opinion that “American belongs to the white man…” I’m sure the Native Americans thought the invasion of the “wicked” white-Anglo-Saxon’s destroyed their lands…
2nd: If you insist on forgetting that the land belonged to the natives first, how about this… the area known as California used to belong to Spain, and then Mexico and I’m sure the Mexicans resented the “wicked” white man coming and taking their lands as well… You claim the lands should be restored to what they were, well why not restore them to the healthy virgin lands of Mexico, which they used to be?
3rd: It is outlandish to make these stereotypes of drugged blacks and latinos, because there are good and bad attributes in every race and not characterized by race, and there are just as many drug addicted and criminal whites…
4th:Repatriation was criminal and unwarranted, history has shown us that when the economy, or politics, or social reform goes south, minorities are used as scapegoats… These Latinos, who were deported, who were citizens, who had been here for generations and generations were just as American as the Irish immigrant or the original anglo immigrants who produced “white” Americans, if that’s the case I guess the Iroquois, and Shawnee, and Shoshone, etc. have a right to deport lots of “whites” to Ireland, and Britain, and Germany, etc…
5th: As for sending Blacks back to Africa, that is an erroneous suggestion! They had been here just as long as the “white” man at this point and America was there land and home… They deserved to stay, and they deserved their rights as Americans, who also fought in the war no less, and made the Union victory possible… They deserved their rights as Americans and so did the Mexican-Americans of the repatriations…

February 3, 2011 at 2:10 am
(27) Alex Reynolds says:

Sorry I forgot to mention that i was refuting the first comment posted…
Also, I was also impressed by others who are culturally and emotionally healthy, like the packers fan…

May 31, 2011 at 11:40 am
(28) autumn rodriguez says:

you know i may be in the 7th grade but it sounds like some of you relate to to this stuff it must of been hard. i wish i was born in that time cause i would of like to see what had happen so i would know the truth. now i just have to belive what people write and i dont know if its true or not.

November 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm
(29) Bravo, Sandra says:

I am an American of Spanish Mexican Decent. And even though there are people (like unemployed WASP) who say that we mexicans destroyed LA they are wrong. I saw a documentary in my Chicanos Studies class and in this doc. we saw the white man destroy the LA river just because the river “over flowed”. Don’t you dare tell me and people like me to go back to our country! 1) you are not rightfully from this country! this country belonged to the Native Americans before it was unjustfully and violently from them. 2) The white man brought the Africans here. Therefore, they have the right to live in America after they were robbed from their land.
Why is the white man so racist?
If you go down to Mexico and you find a white man there I assure you that YOU will not be told to go back to your country. The Government system in Mexico is screwed up (I believe) because of the white man. They white man probably “helps” mexico secretly and instead of helping they are just trying to ruin mexico so they can later on buy it off of them or tick them into giving America their land.

November 20, 2011 at 12:49 pm
(30) bravo, Sandra says:

My parents came to this country in order to give me and my siblings a better life. My family use to own land here in Oxnard. That land they no longer own. My great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather both worked this land. And for what?! so that the white man can take it. (this is targeted to unemployed WASP) tell me what did the white man do to the land, that my ancestors worked on? The white man came into this country and ruined all natural life. The Natives only took what they needed. I read this in elementary. The white man just killed to kill. They left their kills on the floor to rot. dont you dare tell us “minorities” that we should go back to we came from because believe me my man first you and that rest of them racist white s will go. I am tiered of being put down by you anglo. You call us Mexicans, Blacks, Natives, and more, minorities. But in reality that is the label the white man put on us in order for us to not want to rebel against them. This is to the Arab girl. i google searched “MEXICAN REPATRIATION” not “Arab”.
to the 7th grader. who might be in 8th now. continue to search online and look up what they are not teaching you in school. I wish i had done so. Dont ever let anyone put you down. But also dont put others down.
Brown is Beautiful. Wish The white man did not make others like me ashamed.
ps Unemployed WASP. My father came to this country legally. and so did my ancestors. did yours? was your name screwed up on your way into this country? mine wasnt.
I have an uncle who went missing and never found when he was on his way to Cali. He didnt survive. However everyone else in my family who came from mexico to the USA without papers did. I wonder if you would survive? I am sure you have never faced any real danger.

December 19, 2011 at 12:32 am
(31) Two Square Stones Rolling In Dry River Bed says:

Would like to say to all the WASP’s out there, if you are having a problem with people of color please go to Massachusets get on board the Mayflower and return to the land of your ancestors and take the rest of your kind with you along with all those you all brought here, ie. the Africans, The Jews, The Arabs, The Aboriganis, The Polanisians, The Asians, The Hindus and the rest who’s ancestors where from across the great oceans

January 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm
(32) Jay says:

Mexicans all the way Here to stay!!!

February 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm
(33) nunyabzness says:

So people who are from other countries should be sent back? Then the only people left would be Native Americans! Think people, think before you post an uneducated comment. Documents state 60% deported during the “Repatriations” were NATURAL BORN CITIZENS. Yes with Mexican decent but how about Canadians, just because they look white they stay. Europeans stay because they look white. The audacity to say it was acceptable to remove Citizens is ridiculous. In the late 1920′s the U.S. government was asking for Mexicans to come and work as farmworkers to work in the fields etc, Mexicans paid a nickel for LEGAL entry and to get a visa to be here legally! So to deport Citizens due to their skin color this includes African-AMERICAN, Mexican-Americans is just nonsense. These people were NOT “asked” to go, there were raids in public parks, at job sites and GOD forbid you didn’t have all documentation of your Citizenship (but who carries that) so they were ushered in buses and trains and taken to a country that most had never been to. Just because this was NOT taught in our schools it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Nor did it affect communities, this is an outrage to this day. Guess what, maybe you unemployed white or caucasians should go work in the fields picking grapes, strawberries and quit complaining of unemployment. Any other ethnicity/race take any job. Yeah I said it… go take it up with Bush… oh wait he was the dumbest president. We now have an African American President, I pray for the day we have a Mexican American President! The truth hurts, hurts us all but it’s the truth.

April 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm
(34) geno says:

by the way for all your information, canada, the us, mexico, central and south america are all populated with americans.

August 3, 2012 at 8:13 pm
(35) Charles Chisom says:

The very first comment is ignorant and insensitive. Once you move a large group of people to another continent—unless you keep everyone from having children—people populate. There isn’t any “going back” to a country that you were never born in to begin with. That’s the main point. Mexicans didn’t decide to simply venture up to California once whites began to settle it. Blacks who were imported to the states had LANGUAGE BARRIERS and little to no access to tools for literacy. Could you imagine what it would be like if every “assimilated” black American was sent “back to Africa”? That would not be a pretty sight. Once again, it would be another way for white Americans to use people and simply discard them when finished. It was done to the Chinese, the Japanese, the Filipinos, and the Mexicans.

August 25, 2012 at 10:15 pm
(36) Julio Rodriguez says:

To Unempeloyed Wasp- Do u also believe that all brits should have left america after the revolution or kicked all the germans back home after the ww1 and ww2? Probably not? Ur ignorance is amazing where the hell do you get off on saying that mexicans should return home California and the Southwest have been home to Spanish speaking people for about 70 yrs before Jamestown in Santa Fe. America took over mexican territory then a 80 years later white people show up in large numbers and are suprised to find us there. Its like wow theres Asians in China *gasp* black people in Africa Too. Scary white men [...] You stole 2/3 of our territory and now fear well take back what is “ours”, we dont believe in manifest destiny you do.

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