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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  -­4-­       blended with nativist sentiments to create a new chapter in U.S. immigration history. 4 Literacy, hygiene and financial tests were enforced with renewed vigor to keep Mexicans out as new laws restricting immigration from south of the border were debated in Congress. Meanwhile, Mexicans living in the U.S., including long-time residents and citizens, were targeted in immigration crackdowns as the Hoover Administration sought to keep more jobs for Americans. When Mexican quota laws failed to pass, the government turned to administrative tools such as deportation to control the Mexican population. Mexicans accounted for more than 46 percent of all those deported between 1930 and 1939, though they represented only one percent of the U.S. population. 5 This period is also the story of repatriation, in which thousands of people of Mexican descent, many of them U.S. citizens, were rounded up and “returned” to Mexico, a country many of them had never lived in. 6 Immigration scholar Mae Ngai calls the return of Mexicans during the early years of the Depression “a racial expulsion program exceeded in scale only by the Native American Indian removals of the nineteenth century.” 7 Repatriation received increased attention from the academy and the state of California issued a public apology in 2005, yet it remains largely unknown to most Americans. The voluntary and forced returns to Mexico may have swept as many as one million Mexicans from their homes in Anchorage, Detroit and Chicago and other northern points as well as from southern borderlands such as Laredo, San Diego and El Paso. 8 This research examines English-language and Spanish-language newspaper coverage in San Antonio, Texas, about Mexicans and immigration at a pivotal moment: the aftermath of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the stirrings of the Great Depression

Authors: Garza, Melita M..
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background image
They  Came  to  Toil:  
U.S.  News  Coverage  of  Mexicans  on  the  Eve  of  the  Great  Depression  
Melita  M.  Garza  -­-­  Page  -­4-­  
 
 
blended with nativist sentiments to create a new chapter in U.S. immigration history.
4
  
Literacy, hygiene and financial tests were enforced with renewed vigor to keep Mexicans 
out as new laws restricting immigration from south of the border were debated in 
Congress. Meanwhile, Mexicans living in the U.S., including long-time residents and 
citizens, were targeted in immigration crackdowns as the Hoover Administration sought 
to keep more jobs for Americans. When Mexican quota laws failed to pass, the 
government turned to administrative tools such as deportation to control the Mexican 
population. Mexicans accounted for more than 46 percent of all those deported between 
1930 and 1939, though they represented only one percent of the U.S. population.
5
  
This period is also the story of repatriation, in which thousands of people of 
Mexican descent, many of them U.S. citizens, were rounded up and “returned” to 
Mexico, a country many of them had never lived in.
6
 Immigration scholar Mae Ngai calls 
the return of Mexicans during the early years of the Depression “a racial expulsion 
program exceeded in scale only by the Native American Indian removals of the 
nineteenth century.”
7
 Repatriation received increased attention from the academy and the 
state of California issued a public apology in 2005, yet it remains largely unknown to 
most Americans. The voluntary and forced returns to Mexico may have swept as many as 
one million Mexicans from their homes in Anchorage, Detroit and Chicago and other 
northern points as well as from southern borderlands such as Laredo, San Diego and El 
Paso.
8
  
This research examines English-language and Spanish-language newspaper 
coverage in San Antonio, Texas, about Mexicans and immigration at a pivotal moment: 
the aftermath of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the stirrings of the Great Depression 


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