Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Mass Deportations

Collapse
X
  •  
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Mass Deportations

    Uncovering mass 1930s deportations

    LAWSUIT SHEDS LIGHT ON SAD CHAPTER IN U.S.-MEXICAN HISTORY

    By Joe Rodriguez

    Mercury News


    She was only a little girl when the authorities rounded up her family, ordered them into boxcars and sent them away. It was 1935, the depths of the depression. A slogan took hold throughout Los Angeles: ``Employ no Mexican while a white man is unemployed; get the Mexican back into Mexico regardless by what means.''

    So Emilia Castaneda, born in the U.S.A., ended up in Mexico along with 600,000 other ``Mexicans.'' Scholars estimate that 60 percent of them were actually U.S. citizens.

    ``We cried and cried,'' Castaneda recently told the Los Angeles Times. ``I had never been to Mexico. We were leaving everything behind.''

    She's 77 years old now, one of the uncertain number who made it back, living quietly in southern California -- until this week.

    Castaneda was in Sacramento the other day testifying before a legislative committee looking into the mass deportations. Meanwhile, civil rights lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles against the city and state on behalf of Castaneda and 400,000 Mexican Americans deported from California.

    Finally! Seventy years later, justice may be done. And many Americans may hear for the first time about one of the worst and least-known chapters in their history.

    Not in history books

    Here's a telling anecdote: A few years ago, Stanford University professor Alberto Camarillo was giving a lecture on basic, Mexican-American history to a group of journalists. He had just finished talking about the ``repatriation'' program started by President Herbert Hoover in 1930 when an angry hand shot up from the audience.

    ``I can't believe this wasn't in our history books.''

    The professor shrugged. Yes, it really did happen, and no, it probably wasn't in the schoolbooks.

    For a full account, I recommend the 1995 book, ``Decade of Betrayal.'' Scholars Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rod-riguez recall how America recruited Mexican workers during the Roaring 20s, turned against them during the depression, and swept up citizens and whole families as the anti-immigrant hysteria grew out of control.

    Although President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ended the federal deportations in 1933, state and local governments continued them throughout the decade. In public gathering places across the country, anyone who looked Mexican could be stopped and asked to show papers to prove citizenship or residency. Railroads agreed to carry the deportees for half fare. Entire families were rounded up.

    Half of the struggle for civil rights in this country is to educate the American people on what really happened to minority groups under the thumb of discrimination. The other half is apologizing, making amends and learning from history.

    Unfortunately, governments don't apologize or make amends unless they're sued. Japanese Americans interned during World War II had to threaten a lawsuit before winning reparations and an apology. As with the Nisei, Mexican-American deportees lost their property, personal belongings, savings and livelihoods. We could put a dollar figure on all of that, but it would be wrong to assume it's all about money.

    The surviving Japanese-American internees said the apology and lessons learned were far more important. So does Emilia Castaneda.

    ``Somebody could say, `We were wrong for the injustices committed to you and apologize for what was done,' '' she said. ``Maybe other people who are still in Mexico would hear about this and would come back.''

    Deported citizens

    Just how many Mexican Americans remained in Mexico is anybody's guess, and it will be interesting to see if American and Mexican officials are interested in finding them. Here's one lead, from a letter written to Los Angeles officials by Pablo Guerrero, who was deported in 1932 with his American-born children:

    ``I want to arrange everything legally,'' he wrote two years later from Baja California, ``and I want my passport issued with the seal of an American citizen.''

    ``I worked in the U.S. of A. since 1904 with different companies,'' he said, although it's unclear whether he was legal himself. ``The Mexican government here does not give any assistance nor protection to children born in the U.S. of A., and for that reason I ask that my children and myself be allowed to return to the country in which they are entitled to live.''

    JOE RODRIGUEZ is a Mercury News columnist. Contact him at (408) 920-5767 or jrodriguez@mercurynews.com.

  • #2
    Uncovering mass 1930s deportations

    LAWSUIT SHEDS LIGHT ON SAD CHAPTER IN U.S.-MEXICAN HISTORY

    By Joe Rodriguez

    Mercury News


    She was only a little girl when the authorities rounded up her family, ordered them into boxcars and sent them away. It was 1935, the depths of the depression. A slogan took hold throughout Los Angeles: ``Employ no Mexican while a white man is unemployed; get the Mexican back into Mexico regardless by what means.''

    So Emilia Castaneda, born in the U.S.A., ended up in Mexico along with 600,000 other ``Mexicans.'' Scholars estimate that 60 percent of them were actually U.S. citizens.

    ``We cried and cried,'' Castaneda recently told the Los Angeles Times. ``I had never been to Mexico. We were leaving everything behind.''

    She's 77 years old now, one of the uncertain number who made it back, living quietly in southern California -- until this week.

    Castaneda was in Sacramento the other day testifying before a legislative committee looking into the mass deportations. Meanwhile, civil rights lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles against the city and state on behalf of Castaneda and 400,000 Mexican Americans deported from California.

    Finally! Seventy years later, justice may be done. And many Americans may hear for the first time about one of the worst and least-known chapters in their history.

    Not in history books

    Here's a telling anecdote: A few years ago, Stanford University professor Alberto Camarillo was giving a lecture on basic, Mexican-American history to a group of journalists. He had just finished talking about the ``repatriation'' program started by President Herbert Hoover in 1930 when an angry hand shot up from the audience.

    ``I can't believe this wasn't in our history books.''

    The professor shrugged. Yes, it really did happen, and no, it probably wasn't in the schoolbooks.

    For a full account, I recommend the 1995 book, ``Decade of Betrayal.'' Scholars Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rod-riguez recall how America recruited Mexican workers during the Roaring 20s, turned against them during the depression, and swept up citizens and whole families as the anti-immigrant hysteria grew out of control.

    Although President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ended the federal deportations in 1933, state and local governments continued them throughout the decade. In public gathering places across the country, anyone who looked Mexican could be stopped and asked to show papers to prove citizenship or residency. Railroads agreed to carry the deportees for half fare. Entire families were rounded up.

    Half of the struggle for civil rights in this country is to educate the American people on what really happened to minority groups under the thumb of discrimination. The other half is apologizing, making amends and learning from history.

    Unfortunately, governments don't apologize or make amends unless they're sued. Japanese Americans interned during World War II had to threaten a lawsuit before winning reparations and an apology. As with the Nisei, Mexican-American deportees lost their property, personal belongings, savings and livelihoods. We could put a dollar figure on all of that, but it would be wrong to assume it's all about money.

    The surviving Japanese-American internees said the apology and lessons learned were far more important. So does Emilia Castaneda.

    ``Somebody could say, `We were wrong for the injustices committed to you and apologize for what was done,' '' she said. ``Maybe other people who are still in Mexico would hear about this and would come back.''

    Deported citizens

    Just how many Mexican Americans remained in Mexico is anybody's guess, and it will be interesting to see if American and Mexican officials are interested in finding them. Here's one lead, from a letter written to Los Angeles officials by Pablo Guerrero, who was deported in 1932 with his American-born children:

    ``I want to arrange everything legally,'' he wrote two years later from Baja California, ``and I want my passport issued with the seal of an American citizen.''

    ``I worked in the U.S. of A. since 1904 with different companies,'' he said, although it's unclear whether he was legal himself. ``The Mexican government here does not give any assistance nor protection to children born in the U.S. of A., and for that reason I ask that my children and myself be allowed to return to the country in which they are entitled to live.''

    JOE RODRIGUEZ is a Mercury News columnist. Contact him at (408) 920-5767 or jrodriguez@mercurynews.com.

    Comment

    Sorry, you are not authorized to view this page

    Home Page

    Immigration Daily

    Archives

    Processing times

    Immigration forms

    Discussion board

    Resources

    Blogs

    Twitter feed

    Immigrant Nation

    Attorney2Attorney

    CLE Workshops

    Immigration books

    Advertise on ILW

    EB-5

    移民日报

    About ILW.COM

    Connect to us

    Questions/Comments

    SUBSCRIBE

    Immigration Daily



    Working...
    X