Voices from El Rio

The Dust Bowl, 1941

During the time of the Dust Bowl, many Americans were suffering together. But Mexican Americans were asked to suffer elsewhere as the U.S. unconstitutionally deported U.S. citizens of Mexican descent.

According to “Border Patrol: Policing Immigration in America,” between 500,000 and 2 million Mexican Americans were pressured to leave the United States. 1 Nobody mentioned that once they left, they were forbidden to return to the U.S. 2

But the ones who chose to stay faced discrimination as they carried on with everyday life. 3

Also within “Border Patrol: Policing Immigration in America,” we hear the motive behind the government’s sudden desire to place Mexican Americans in a permanent, undeserved time-out on the other side of the border between the United States and Mexico. Apparently, it was simply cheaper to do so.

Rex Thompson states, “We had thousands of Mexican nationals who were out of work and Mexican families were costing us $110 a month. I can remember those figures. We could ship them back and feed them well and decently by train for $74 a family.” 4

Because the government promoted deportation, the stigma that Mexican Americans did not have a place in the U.S. left many struggling in a discrimination-filled society. Jose Flores, a Mexican American citizen, describes in an interview the difficulties Mexican Americans faced when trying to find a job.

He argues that if a Mexican American citizen can get drafted to the armed foces, why can’t the country give him a good job?

So it seems, even through the New Deal, the Mexican Americans were given a raw deal.

  1. Francisco Balderrama, & Valenciana, C. (2018, November 2). Border Patrols: Policing Immigration in America [Interview]. https://www.backstoryradio.org/shows/border-patrols/
  2. Francisco Balderrama, & Valenciana, C. (2018, November 2). Border Patrols: Policing Immigration in America [Interview]. https://www.backstoryradio.org/shows/border-patrols/
  3. “Interview about the Mexican family, discrimination against Mexicans, and life in the FSA camp,” Voices from the Dustbowl, Library of Congress, https://stream-media.loc.gov/afc/toddsonkin/afc1985001_afs05145a1.mp3.
  4. Francisco Balderrama, & Valenciana, C. (2018, November 2). Border Patrols: Policing Immigration in America [Interview]. https://www.backstoryradio.org/shows/border-patrols/

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