They Should Stay There: The Story of Mexican Migration and Repatriation during the Great Depression

They Should Stay There: The Story of Mexican Migration and Repatriation during the Great Depression

They Should Stay There: The Story of Mexican Migration and Repatriation during the Great Depression

They Should Stay There: The Story of Mexican Migration and Repatriation during the Great Depression

Synopsis

Here, for the first time in English--and from the Mexican perspective--is the story of Mexican migration to the United States and the astonishing forced repatriation of hundreds of thousands of people to Mexico during the worldwide economic crisis of the Great Depression. While Mexicans were hopeful for economic reform following the Mexican revolution, by the 1930s, large numbers of Mexican nationals had already moved north and were living in the United States in one of the twentieth century's most massive movements of migratory workers. Fernando Saul Alanis Enciso provides an illuminating backstory that demonstrates how fluid and controversial the immigration and labor situation between Mexico and the United States was in the twentieth century and continues to be in the twenty-first.

When the Great Depression took hold, the United States stepped up its enforcement of immigration laws and forced more than 350,000 Mexicans, including their U.S.-born children, to return to their home country. While the Mexican government was fearful of the resulting economic implications, President Lazaro Cardenas fostered the repatriation effort for mostly symbolic reasons relating to domestic politics. In clarifying the repatriation episode through the larger history of Mexican domestic and foreign policy, Alanis connects the dots between the aftermath of the Mexican revolution and the relentless political tumult surrounding today's borderlands immigration issues.

Excerpt

Doctrinally grounded in nineteenth-century conceptions of sovereignty,
contemporary deportation is a living legacy of historical episodes marked
by ideas about race, imperialism, and government power that we have
largely rejected in other realms. Implicating much more than border control,
deportation is also a fulcrum on which majoritarian power is brought to bear
against a discrete, marginalized segment of our society.

—DANIEL kanstroom, deportation nation

The history examined by Mexican historian Fernando Saúl Alanís Enciso in They Should Stay There is very much alive today. in 2016, as many Mexican and other immigrants in the United States live vulnerably and in fear of deportation, we would do well to remember the lessons from the 1930s, a period when the U.S. government forced hundreds of thousands of ethnic Mexicans—many U.S. citizens—back across the border in what became the largest “repatriation” movement in U.S. history. Although largely rooted in policies enacted long before his election, the record of approving the deportation of more people than any other president has earned Barack Obama the unsavory moniker “Deporter-in-Chief” from the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Latino advocacy organization.

The numbers of “formal removals” have been climbing rapidly since 1996, the year President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). Whereas before 1996 immigration courts processed the majority of deportation cases, iirira provided Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol agents with more authority to conduct nonjudicial deportations. Total deportations increased from 51,000 in 1995 to . . .

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