Citation
No niggers, Mexicans, or dogs allowed

Material Information

Title:
No niggers, Mexicans, or dogs allowed
Series Title:
This week in history
Creator:
Castro, Richard T.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
Richard T. Castron
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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Copyright [name of copyright holder or Creator or Publisher as appropriate]. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text
This Week In History
"No Niggers, Mexicans or Dogs Allowed" by
Richard Castro
On July 12, 1951, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 78, permitting
importation of Mexican braceros as farm laborers. The Mexican term "bracero" comes from the Spanish word brazo (arm) and has several meanings. In its widest sense, it has the same general meaning as the English, "hired hand."
These young Mexican men were brought into the United States under programs organized by the U.S. and Mexico for seasonal employment. They normally returned to Mexico at the end of their contracts. However, some stayed over to the following year, while others, having returned to Mexico, came back in succeeding years — often to the same employer. By 1960 over 3 million braceros had worked for U.S. growers.
What we need to understand about immigration of Mexicans to the U.S. today is that this is not a unique phenomena. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) which passed Congress this last year, is a repeat of history. When this country has needed cheap hard working labor, it has opened its borders to Mexico such as in 1910 - 1920, for railroad, mine and agricultural workers. In 1942, there was a need for cheap labor to work in the factories to help during World War II. Congress passed Public Law 45 and recruited 250,000 Mexicans to fill the void left by U.S. workers who had gone overseas as part of the war effort. A second period lasted from 1951 to 1965, covering the Korean conflict up through


2
the election of President Lyndon Johnson. It was terminated because of widespread abuse and exploitation of the Mexican workers.
A more negative side of Mexican immigration concerns the scapegoatism of Mexicans and Mexican Americans during hard economic times. In the 1920's, just before the Big Depression of 1930, then, just as today, Mexican immigrants were blamed for the unemployment of U.S. citizens. Anti-Mexican feelings were widespread and overt throughout the Southwest in the 1930s. Signs reading "Only White Labor Employed" and "No Niggers, Mexicans, or Dogs Allowed," were evidence of the feelings and attitudes of that time, which to a large degree continues today, although in more subtle forms.
A California law passed in August, 1931, prohibited the employment of aliens in all public works. Furthermore, this prohibition had the broader effect of discouraging contractors from hiring Mexicans, even on jobs specifically included in the law. Mexican immigrants found even pick-and-shovel work almost impossible to obtain, a difficulty shared by the American-born Mexican Americans. Contractors, like earlier gold rush Anglos, in the case of the foreign miners tax law, failed to distinguish Mexican American citizens from Mexican nationals. As a result, many Mexican families were forced onto welfare rolls.
By 1930, local government faced the dual problem of low tax revenues and rapidly expanding relief costs; therefore, social agencies began to put pressure on Mexicans to return to their home country. Many Anglos


- 3 -
Many Anglos in the Southwest considered Mexicans foreign, short-term labor, who had no rights to welfare benefits. They thought the answer was ridiculously simple: send Mexicans back to Mexico, disregarding the ethical considerations of this pseudo-solution. The civil rights violations involved in deportation programs were outrageous. Legally, the situation was extremely complex. Many Mexicans had been living in the United States for decades and had children who were United States citizens by birth, and therefore could not be legally deported.
Even in the case of illegal entrants, the process for deportation required a public hearing and a formal order. The surprising aspect of deportation is that very few Americans spoke out in defense of the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens, and a majority condoned these deportation programs.
Recent research indicates that approximately half of the returnees in the 1930s were American-born. When these children later wished to come back to the United States in the belief that they were citizens, many found that they had unwittingly lost their citizenship by serving in the Mexican army or by voting in a Mexican election. Most responsible for these injustices were the government officials who failed to inform these American citizens of their rights.
What we must learn from this is that immigration policy has been less than even handed, and that Mexican Americans need to monitor the policies of the government in order to protect the civil and human rights of it's citizens and to establish more human policies with respect to those who migrate to this country.


Full Text

PAGE 1

This Week In History "No Niggers, Mexicans or Dogs Allowed" by Richard Castro On July 12, 1951, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 78, permitting importation of Mexican braceros as farm laborers. The Mexican term "bracero" comes from the Spanish word brazo (arm) and has several meanings. In its widest sense, it has the same general meaning as the English, "hired hand." These young Mexican men were brought into the United States under programs organized by the U.S. and Mexico for seasonal employment. They normally returned to Mexico at the end of their contracts. However, some stayed over to the following year, while others, having returned to Mexico, came back in succeeding years --often to the same employer. By 1960 over 3 million braceros had worked for U.S. growers. What we need to understand about immigration of Mexicans to the U.S. today is that this is not a unique phenomena. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) which passed Congress this last year, is a repeat of history. When this country has needed cheap hard working labor, it has opened its borders to Mexico such as in 1910 1920, for railroad, mine and agricultural workers. In 1942, there was a need for cheap labor to work in the factories to help during World War II. Congress passed Public Law 45 and recruited 250,000 Mexicans to fill the void left by U.S. workers who had gone overseas as part of the war effort. A second period lasted from 1951 to 1965, covering the Korean conflict up through

PAGE 2

2 the election of President Lyndon Johnson. It was terminated because of widespread abuse and exploitation of the Mexican workers. A more negative side of Mexican immigration concerns the scapegoatism of Mexicans and Mexican Americans during hard economic times. In the 1920's, just before the Big Depression of 1930, then, just as today, Mexican immigrants were blamed for the unemployment of U.S. citizens. Anti-Mexican feelings were widespread and overt throughout the Southwest in the 1930s. Signs reading "Only White Labor Employed" and "No Niggers, Mexicans, or Dogs Allowed," were evidence of the feelings and attitudes of that time, which to a large degree continues today, although in more subtle forms. A California law passed in August, 1931, prohibited the employment of aliens in all public works. Furthermore, this prohibition had the broader effect of discouraging contractors from hiring Mexicans, even on jobs specifically included in the law. Mexican immigrants found even pick-and-shovel work almost impossible to obtain, a difficulty shared by the American-born Mexican Americans. Contractors, like earlier gold rush Anglos, in the case of the foreign miners tax law, failed to distinguish Mexican American citizens from Mexican nationals. result, many Mexican families were forced onto welfare rolls. As a By 1930, local government faced the dual problem of low tax revenues and rapidly expanding relief costs; therefore, social agencies began to put pressure on Mexicans to return to their home country. Many Anglos

PAGE 3

.. 3 Many Anglos in the Southwest considered Mexicans foreign, short-term labor, who had no rights to welfare benefits. They thought the answer was ridiculously simple: send Mexicans back to Mexico, disregarding the ethical considerations of this pseudo-solution. The civil rights violations involved in deportation programs were outrageous. Legally, the situation was extremely complex. Many Mexicans had been living in the United States for decades and had children who were United States citizens by birth, and therefore could not be legally deported. Even in the case of illegal entrants, the process for deportation required a public hearing and a formal order. The surprising aspect of deportation is that very few Americans spoke out in defense of the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens, and a majority condoned these deportation programs. Recent research indicates that approximately half of the returnees in the 1930s were American-born. When these children later wished to come back to the United States in the belief that they were citizens, many found that they had unwittingly lost their citizenship by serving in the Mexican army or by voting in a Mexican election. Most responsible for these injustices were the government officials who failed to inform these American citizens of their rights. What we must learn from this is that immigration policy has been less than even handed, and that Mexican Americans need to monitor the policies of the government in order to protect the civil and human rights of it 1 s citizens and to establish more human policies with respect to those who migrate to this country.