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They Came to Toil: U.S. News Coverage of Mexicans on the Eve of the Great Depression
Unformatted Document Text:  They  Came  to  Toil:  U.S.  News  Coverage  of  Mexicans  on  the  Eve  of  the  Great  Depression   Melita  M.  Garza  -­-­  Page  -­16-­       La Prensa criticized the Mexican Embassy’s failure to defend Mexicans in the U.S., and refuted Box in a strongly worded commentary. “It is the immigrant class, the one who leaves his country in search of adventure, that in all cases is the more energetic, the more enterprising, the more audaciously intelligent and hardworking. The timid ones stay home.” 66 What’s more, La Prensa said, “there is no such thing as a pure race, either in Mexico or Europe.” 67 Box, the columnist continued, would know better than anyone that sick, illiterate and criminal Mexicans would have been barred from entering at the border. Box helped design the Immigration Act of 1917 law that established health, literacy and criminal background checks at the border. The law was not enforced against Mexicans until 1921, in the aftermath of the Great War. Box may not have been persuaded. But in testimony before Box’s Congressional committee, Chandler, the Los Angeles Times publisher, graphically described his faith in the health screening. Chandler pointed out in his testimony that only quality Mexican laborers were permitted into the country. His managers told him, for instance, not to worry about Mexicans bringing in pink bollworm to contaminate the crops. At the border, they paid their $18 entrance duty and took their literacy tests and then the border patrol “fumigated their hair and fumigated their clothes” and “there was not a thing that was not fumigated ‘except their souls,’” Chandler recounted. 68 Friendship, Diplomacy and Fairness Immigration was a diplomatic matter, the Express said in its January 24, 1930 editorial arguing against Mexican quota restrictions. Brownsville’s Judge “Yates warned the Committee that any such bill would offend Latin-American countries, ‘the people of

Authors: Garza, Melita M..
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They  Came  to  Toil:  
U.S.  News  Coverage  of  Mexicans  on  the  Eve  of  the  Great  Depression  
Melita  M.  Garza  -­-­  Page  -­16-­  
La Prensa criticized the Mexican Embassy’s failure to defend Mexicans in the 
U.S., and refuted Box in a strongly worded commentary. “It is the immigrant class, the 
one who leaves his country in search of adventure, that in all cases is the more energetic, 
the more enterprising, the more audaciously intelligent and hardworking. The timid ones 
stay home.”
 What’s more, La Prensa said, “there is no such thing as a pure race, either 
in Mexico or Europe.”
 Box, the columnist continued, would know better than anyone 
that sick, illiterate and criminal Mexicans would have been barred from entering at the 
border. Box helped design the Immigration Act of 1917 law that established health, 
literacy and criminal background checks at the border. The law was not enforced against 
Mexicans until 1921, in the aftermath of the Great War. 
Box may not have been persuaded. But in testimony before Box’s Congressional 
committee, Chandler, the Los Angeles Times publisher, graphically described his faith in 
the health screening. Chandler pointed out in his testimony that only quality Mexican 
laborers were permitted into the country. His managers told him, for instance, not to 
worry about Mexicans bringing in pink bollworm to contaminate the crops. At the border, 
they paid their $18 entrance duty and took their literacy tests and then the border patrol 
“fumigated their hair and fumigated their clothes” and “there was not a thing that was not 
fumigated ‘except their souls,’” Chandler recounted.
Friendship, Diplomacy and Fairness 
Immigration was a diplomatic matter, the Express said in its January 24, 1930 
editorial arguing against Mexican quota restrictions. Brownsville’s Judge “Yates warned 
the Committee that any such bill would offend Latin-American countries, ‘the people of 

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