Monday, July 08, 2013

1930's mass deportations to mexico...,


LATimes |  Raymond Rodriguez was 10 years old in 1936 when his immigrant father walked out of the family's Long Beach farmhouse and returned to Mexico, never to see his wife and children again.
The son would spend decades pondering the forces that had driven his father away, an effort that reached fruition in "Decade of Betrayal," a social history of the 1930s focusing on an estimated 1 million Mexicans and Mexican Americans unjustly deported or scared into leaving their homes in the United States by federal and local officials seeking remedies for the Great Depression.

"Americans, reeling from the economic disorientation of the depression, sought a convenient scapegoat. They found it in the Mexican community," Rodriguez and co-author Francisco Balderrama wrote in the 1995 book, which sparked legislative hearings and formal apologies from the state of California and Los Angeles County officials.

Rodriguez, 87, a former Long Beach City College administrator and columnist for the Long Beach Press-Telegram, who believed "the greatest tragedy of all" was public ignorance of the deportations, died June 24 at his Long Beach home. The cause was believed to be a heart attack, said his daughter, C.J. Crockett.
"It is no exaggeration to say that without the scholarly work by Ray and Francisco, no one but a handful of individuals would ever know about the illegal deportations of Mexican Americans in the 1930s," said former state Sen. Joseph Dunn (D-Santa Ana), who sponsored 2005 legislation that apologized for California's part in "fundamental violations" of the deportees' constitutional rights.

Last year the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors apologized for the county's role in the roundups.
The deportations began a decade before the World War II internment of 110,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Federal and local authorities rounded up Mexican immigrants and their families at dance halls, markets, hospitals, theaters and parks, loading them onto vans and trains that dumped them on Mexican soil.

One of the most notorious raids occurred in 1931 at La Placita, a popular gathering spot for immigrants outside Olvera Street in Los Angeles. A team of Immigration and Naturalization Service agents armed with guns and batons sealed off the small public park and herded 400 terrified men and women into waiting vans. The success of the raid galvanized authorities in other localities across the country.

By 1940, Rodriguez and Balderrama found, more than 1 million people of Mexican descent had been deported. Government officials used the term "repatriation" to describe their actions, but the researchers found that 60% of the expelled were U.S. citizens. "They might as well have sent us to Mars," Rodriguez once said, recalling the words of one "repatriate."