100 Years in the Back Door, Out the Front (Immigration)
During the Depression, as many as a million Mexicans, and even Mexican-Americans, were ousted, along with their American-born children, to spare relief costs or discourage efforts to unionize. They were welcome again during World War II and cast as heroic "braceros." But in the 1950's, Mexicans were re-branded as dangerous, welfare-seeking "wetbacks."
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent Gen. Joseph Swing to "secure the border" with farm raids and summary deportations that drove out at least a million people. At the same time, growers were assured of a new supply of temporary workers through the "braceros" program, which soon doubled to 400,000 a year.
The pattern grew during the years between the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the quotas of 1929, as rising legal barriers drastically narrowed the nation's front door. The goal was to preserve the country's "Nordic character" against Italians and Eastern European Jews who had begun arriving in large numbers.
Yet Congress refused to close the back entrance to a growing flow of Mexicans, even though by the lawmakers' own racial standards, Mexicans were even more objectionable than the "degraded races" of Asians and Southern Europeans whom they were increasingly replacing in fields, factories and railroad work.
comments powered by Disqus
- Hull of Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley Found 150 Years Later
- U.S. Textbook Skews History, Prime Minister of Japan Says
- Recalling a Film From the Liberation of the Camps
- Skull Fossil Offers New Clues on Human Journey From Africa
- Are crude conspiracies right? Research shows nations really do go to war over oil
- Ronald Suny says historians have shied away from exploring the roots of the Armenian genocide for fear of taking attention away from the victims
- Columbia University professors Eric Foner, Alan Brinkley, and Alice Kessler-Harris to retire
- A powerhouse appropriations subcommittee is now headed by a historian: Republican Rep. Tom Cole (OK)
- Slavic scholars divided over a scholarship sponsored (and withdrawn) by Stephen F. Cohen
- Claire Strom to Step Down as Editor of Agricultural History