During the Great Depression the unemployment rate in the United State rose to 25%. Other factors that led to the
depression were the massive bank failures and the stock market crash. There were many things that contributed to
the Great Depression. Many believe the Great Depression originated in the United States in what is now called,
Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929.) This led to a world wide shortfall.
While other countries were finding ways to survive the United (Gringo) States came up with a plan of their own.
Deport any Mexican looking human being to Mexico! That's right. If you looked like you were born in Mexico you were
going to be deported. It didn't matter if you were born in the United States and were an American Citizen. These
Gringos were looking out for themselves. They figured if they could deport all Mexicans back to Mexico it would open
up more opportunities in the workforce for the whites.
Fast forward 70+ years to today and we have something similar going on. Similar in the way that when White America
struggles they go after the easiest prey. The Mexican. Why did all of a sudden after 9/11 did securing our borders
along, Texas, Arizona and California become an issue? Before 9/11 the Gringo States didn't care about "illegals"
crossing the borders. Why? It was cheap labor. The Gringo States are growing and Mexicans are helping them build,
schools, roads, buildings, etc.. Mexicans play an important part in transforming America.
Today white America says securing our borders is important. Why? Mexicans are not coming to America to blow up
buildings, start riots, hijack planes, poison our water, etc..... Mexicans come to American to better themselves. They
come to America as a NEED not a WANT. All Mexicans want to do is what Gringos DON'T WANT to do..........WORK!
It's time for Mexicans to stand up for themselves and give these Gringos a big FUCK YOU next time they come
knocking on our door!
Below you will find some history of what Gringos did to Mexicans during the Great Depression.
Depression and the Struggle for Survival
The Great Depression of the 1930s hit Mexican immigrants especially hard. Along with the job crisis and food
shortages that affected all U.S. workers, Mexicans and Mexican Americans had to face an additional threat:
deportation. As unemployment swept the U.S., hostility to immigrant workers grew, and the government began a
program of repatriating immigrants to Mexico. Immigrants were offered free train rides to Mexico, and some went
voluntarily, but many were either tricked or coerced into repatriation, and some U.S. citizens were deported simply
on suspicion of being Mexican. All in all, hundreds of thousands of Mexican immigrants, especially farmworkers, were
sent out of the country during the 1930s--many of them the same workers who had been eagerly recruited a decade
The farmworkers who remained struggled to survive in desperate conditions. Bank foreclosures drove small farmers
from their land, and large landholders cut back on their permanent workforce. As with many Southwestern farm
families, a great number of Mexican American farmers discovered they had to take on a migratory existence and
traveled the highways in search of work.
Many found temporary stability in the migrant work camps established by the U.S. Farm Security Administration, or
FSA. The FSA camps provided housing, food, and medicine for migrant farm families, as well as protection from
criminal elements that often took advantage of vulnerable migrants. The FSA set up several camps specifically for
Mexican Americans in an attempt to create safe havens from violent attacks.
The camps also provided an unexpected benefit. In bringing together so many individual farm families, they
increased ties within the community. Many residents began organizing their fellow workers around labor issues, and
helped pave the way for the farm labor movements that emerged later in the century. This interview with a leader of
the FSA camp in El Rio, California describes some of the day-to-day issues that the camp residents dealt with.
Although farming was an important source of employment for Mexican immigrants, by the end of the 1930s Mexican
Americans were established throughout the American workforce. Mexican immigrants and their descendants could
be found in most of the industries of the Southwest, including ranching and mining. America's growing rail network
was particularly important for Mexican immigrants. The railroad industry had long turned to immigrants from Mexico
as a source of low-cost labor. In return, Mexican workers found that the railways offered not only employment, but
also mobility. They often used this relatively inexpensive form of travel to move their families further into the North
and East of the U.S., and into a more urban way of life.
U.S. urged to apologize for 1930s deportations
Enlarge By Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY
American-born Ignacio Pina, 81, returned to the USA after
16 years in Mexico.
Enlarge By Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY
Pina, then 6, at right front row, and siblings lived in Montana before
they were deported.
By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY
His father and oldest sister were farming sugar beets in the fields of Hamilton, Mont., and his mother was cooking
tortillas when 6-year-old Ignacio Piña saw plainclothes authorities burst into his home.
"They came in with guns and told us to get out," recalls Piña, 81, a retired railroad worker in Bakersfield, Calif., of
the 1931 raid. "They didn't let us take anything," not even a trunk that held birth certificates proving that he and his
five siblings were U.S.-born citizens.
The family was thrown into a jail for 10 days before being sent by train to Mexico. Piña says he spent 16 years of
"pure hell" there before acquiring papers of his Utah birth and returning to the USA.
The deportation of Piña's family tells an almost-forgotten story of a 1930s anti-immigrant campaign. Tens of
thousands, and possibly more than 400,000, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were pressured — through raids
and job denials — to leave the USA during the Depression, according to a USA TODAY review of documents and
interviews with historians and deportees. Many, mostly children, were U.S. citizens.
Related story: Some stories hard to get in history books
If their tales seem incredible, a newspaper analysis of the history textbooks used most in U.S. middle and high
schools may explain why: Little has been written about the exodus, often called "the repatriation."
That may soon change. As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on bills that would either help illegal workers become
legal residents or boost enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, an effort to address deportations that happened 70
years ago has gained traction:
• On Thursday, Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., plans to introduce a bill in the U.S. House that calls for a commission to
study the "deportation and coerced emigration" of U.S. citizens and legal residents. The panel would also
recommend remedies that could include reparations. "An apology should be made," she says.
Co-sponsor Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., says history may repeat itself. He says a new House bill that makes being an
illegal immigrant a felony could prompt a "massive deportation of U.S. citizens," many of them U.S.-born children
leaving with their parents.
"We have safeguards to ensure people aren't deported who shouldn't be," says Jeff Lungren, GOP spokesman for
the House Judiciary Committee, adding the new House bill retains those safeguards.
• In January, California became the first state to enact a bill that apologizes to Latino families for the 1930s civil
rights violations. It declined to approve the sort of reparations the U.S. Congress provided in 1988 for Japanese-
Americans interned during World War II.
Democratic state Sen. Joe Dunn, a self-described "Irish white guy from Minnesota" who sponsored the state bill, is
now pushing a measure to require students be taught about the 1930s emigration. He says as many as 2 million
people of Mexican ancestry were coerced into leaving, 60% of them U.S. citizens.
• In October, a group of deportees and their relatives, known as los repatriados, will host a conference in Detroit on
the topic. Organizer Helen Herrada, whose father was deported, has conducted 100 oral histories and produced a
documentary. She says many sent to Mexico felt "humiliated" and didn't want to talk about it. "They just don't want it
to happen again."
No precise figures exist on how many of those deported in the 1930s were illegal immigrants. Since many of those
harassed left on their own, and their journeys were not officially recorded, there are also no exact figures on the
total number who departed.
At least 345,839 people went to Mexico from 1930 to 1935, with 1931 as the peak year, says a 1936 dispatch from
the U.S. Consulate General in Mexico City.
"It was a racial removal program," says Mae Ngai, an immigration history expert at the University of Chicago, adding
people of Mexican ancestry were targeted.
However, Americans in the 1930s were "really hurting," says Otis Graham, history professor emeritus at the
University of California, Santa Barbara. One in four workers were unemployed and many families hungry. Deporting
illegal residents was not an "outrageous idea," Graham says. "Don't lose the context."
A pressure campaign
In the early 1900s, Mexicans poured into the USA, welcomed by U.S. factory and farm owners who needed their
labor. Until entry rules tightened in 1924, they simply paid a nickel to cross the border and get visas for legal
"The vast majority were here legally, because it was so easy to enter legally," says Kevin Johnson, a law professor
at the University of California, Davis.
They spread out across the nation. They sharecropped in California, Texas and Louisiana, harvested sugar beets
in Montana and Minnesota, laid railroad tracks in Kansas, mined coal in Utah and Oklahoma, packed meat in
Chicago and assembled cars in Detroit.
By 1930, the U.S. Census counted 1.42 million people of Mexican ancestry, and 805,535 of them were U.S. born, up
from 700,541 in 1920.
Change came in 1929, as the stock market and U.S. economy crashed. That year, U.S. officials tightened visa
rules, reducing legal immigration from Mexico to a trickle. They also discussed what to do with those already in the
"The government undertook a program that coerced people to leave," says Layla Razavi, policy analyst for the
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). "It was really a hostile environment." She says
federal officials in the Hoover administration, like local-level officials, made no distinction between people of Mexican
ancestry who were in the USA legally and those who weren't.
"The document trail is shocking," says Dunn, whose staff spent two years researching the topic after he read the
1995 book Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s, by Francisco Balderrama and Raymond
USA TODAY reviewed hundreds of pages of documents, some provided by Dunn and MALDEF and others found at
the National Archives. They cite officials saying the deportations lawfully focused on illegal immigrants while the
exodus of legal residents was voluntary. Yet they suggest people of Mexican ancestry faced varying forms of
harassment and intimidation:
• Raids. Officials staged well-publicized raids in public places. On Feb. 26, 1931, immigration officials suddenly
closed off La Placita, a square in Los Angeles, and questioned the roughly 400 people there about their legal
The raids "created a climate of fear and anxiety" and prompted many Mexicans to leave voluntarily, says
Balderrama, professor of Chicano studies and history at California State University, Los Angeles.
In a June 1931 memo to superiors, Walter Carr, Los Angeles district director of immigration, said "thousands upon
thousands of Mexican aliens" have been "literally scared out of Southern California."
Some of them came from hospitals and needed medical care en route to Mexico, immigrant inspector Harry Yeager
wrote in a November 1932 letter.
The Wickersham Commission, an 11-member panel created by President Hoover, said in a May 1931 report that
immigration inspectors made "checkups" of boarding houses, restaurants and pool rooms without "warrants of any
kind." Labor Secretary William Doak responded that the "checkups" occurred very rarely.
• Jobs withheld. Prodded by labor unions, states and private companies barred non-citizens from some jobs,
"We need their jobs for needy citizens," C.P. Visel of the Los Angeles Citizens Committee for Coordination of
Unemployment Relief wrote in a 1931 telegram. In a March 1931 letter to Doak, Visel applauded U.S. officials for the
"exodus of aliens deportable and otherwise who have been scared out of the community."
Emilia Castenada, 79, recalls coming home from school in 1935 in Los Angeles and hearing her father say he was
being deported because "there was no work for Mexicans." She says her father, a stonemason, was a legal resident
who owned property. A U.S. citizen who spoke little Spanish, she left the USA with her brother and father, who was
never allowed back.
"The jobs were given to the white Americans, not the Mexicans," says Carlos DeAnda Guerra, 77, a retired furniture
upholsterer in Carpinteria, Calif. He says his parents entered the USA legally in 1917 but were denied jobs. He, his
mother and five U.S.-born siblings were deported in 1931, while his father, who then went into hiding, stayed to pick
"The slogan has gone out over the city (Los Angeles) and is being adhered to — 'Employ no Mexican while a white
man is unemployed,' " wrote George Clements, manager of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce's agriculture
department, in a memo to his boss Arthur Arnoll. He said the Mexicans' legal status was not a factor: "It is a question
of pigment, not a question of citizenship or right."
• Public aid threatened. County welfare offices threatened to withhold the public aid of many Mexican-Americans,
Ngai says. Memos show they also offered to pay for trips to Mexico but sometimes failed to provide adequate food.
An immigration inspector reported in a November 1932 memo that no provisions were made for 78 children on a
train. Their only sustenance: a few ounces of milk daily.
Most of those leaving were told they could return to the USA whenever they wanted, wrote Clements in an August
1931 letter. "This is a grave mistake, because it is not the truth." He reported each was given a card that made their
return impossible, because it showed they were "county charities." Even those born in the USA, he wrote, wouldn't
be able to return unless they had a birth certificate or similar proof.
• Forced departures. Some of the deportees who were moved by train or car had guards to ensure they left the
USA and others were sent south on a "closed-body school bus" or "Mexican gun boat," memos show.
"Those who tried to say 'no' ended up in the physical deportation category," Dunn says, adding they were taken in
squad cars to train stations.
Mexican-Americans recall other pressure tactics. Arthur Herrada, 81, a retired Ford engineer in Huron, Ohio, says
his father, who was a legal U.S. resident, was threatened with deportation if he didn't join the U.S. Army. His father
'We weren't welcome'
"It was an injustice that shouldn't have happened," says Jose Lopez, 79, a retired Ford worker in Detroit. He says
his father came to the USA legally but couldn't find his papers in 1931 and was deported. To keep the family
together, his mother took her six U.S.-born children to Mexico, where they often survived on one meal a day. Lopez
welcomes a U.S. apology.
So does Guerra, the retired upholsterer, whose voice still cracks with emotion when he talks about how deportation
tore his family apart. "I'm very resentful. I don't trust the government at all," says Guerra, who later served in the U.
Piña says his entire family got typhoid fever in Mexico and his father, who had worked in Utah coal mines, died of
black lung disease in 1935. "My mother was left destitute, with six of us, in a country we knew nothing about," he
says. They lived in the slums of Mexico City, where his formal education ended in sixth grade. "We were misfits
there. We weren't welcome."
"The Depression was very bad here. You can imagine how hard it was in Mexico," says Piña, who proudly notes the
advanced college degrees of each of his four U.S.-raised sons. "You can't put 16 years of pure hell out of your