An increase of Mexican immigration to the U.S. during the first three decades of the twentieth century enabled Anglos to scapegoat Mexicans for economic troubles faced during the Great Depression. Shortly after its onset, federal, state and local governments sought to rid themselves of Mexicans—both citizens of the U.S. and Mexican nationals—through deportation efforts. The U.S. Border Patrol, founded in 1924, helped remove the “Mexican problem” through deportation campaigns that targeted established Mexican communities.[1] Despite being less than one percent of the country’s population in the 1930’s, Mexicans were 46.3 percent of those deported.[2] Local communities frequently refused public assistance to individuals of Mexican descent as one means for pressuring their departure. Cities such as San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Chicago were some of the localities that undertook these efforts. Without jobs and assistance from the government approximately one million Mexican repatriates are estimated to have left the U.S.[3] Although termed “Mexican repatriation,” implying a voluntary return “home,” many Mexicans, including those born and raised in the U.S., felt that leaving for Mexico was their only option.


[1] Balderrama and Rodriguez, Decade of Betrayal, 73-76.

[2] Ibid, 67.

[3] Ibid, 151.