Tag Archives: immigration

Mexican Immigration in the 20th century: Revolution, Welfare, and Braceros

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The Bracero Program began in 1942, and was an agreement between the United States and Mexico, which started the legalization and control of Mexican migrant workers along America’s southern border area. The US was recovering from the social and economic damages caused by the Great Depression, while also sending many of its potential laborers off to war in Europe. So there was a serious need for workers in the country. The program lasted until 1964, and it is estimated that in this 22 year period, approximately 4.6 million Mexican nationals came to work in the U.S. as braceros. In the first year of its creation, the Bracero program led to the US importing roughly 215,000 Mexican nationals to work as agricultural laborers and then another 75,000 would be sent to work of the Southern Pacific railroad along with 20 or so other railroads.

In this continuation of our series on immigration, Dan and Elizabeth focus on the Mexican-American experience within the United States: instances of racism, the importation of Mexican workers, and how Mexican-Americans were intentionally excluded from the welfare state.

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Show Notes & Further Reading

Zamora, Emilio. The World of the Mexican Worker in Texas. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2009.

Katznelson, Ira. When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America. Reprint edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.

Cohen, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939. 2nd edition. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Fox, Cybelle. Three Worlds of Relief: Race, Immigration, and the American Welfare State from the Progressive Era to the New Deal. Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2012.

Ngai, Mai. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Updated edition. Princeton University Press, 2014.

Feature Image: “Mexican Farm Workers Who have been Accepted for Farm Labor in the U.S. through the Braceros Program

We Belong Here: Manifest Destiny, Immigration, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

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When we think of immigration we tend to think of people crossing over nation-state borders, from one country to another. These borders seem somehow solid in our collective mind, yet they normally only exist within treaties, maps, and in perceived ideas of community. But in many ways, borders are arbitrary distinctions, attempting to separate one from another but instead creating unique spaces, or borderlands that house a give and take, push and pull, amalgam of culture and people.

In this episode, we are going to be talking about how the United States’ southern border formed and how ideas of race and manifest destiny came to define what it meant to be an American or an immigrant.

Show Notes & Further Reading

Americo Paredes, With His Pistol in His Hand (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958).

Rodolfo Acuña, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, vol. 1 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1972).

Laura E. Gomez, Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race (New York: New York University Press, 2007).

Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny : The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981).

Raymund A. Paredes, “The Origins of Anti-Mexican Sentiment in the United States,” in Race and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Ages of Territorial and Market Expansion, 1840-1900, ed. Michael L. Krenn (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1998).

Arnoldo De Leon, “Initial Contacts: Redeeming Texas from Mexicans, 1821-1836,” in Race and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Ages of Territorial and Market Expansion, 1840-1900 (New York: Garland Pub., 1998).

Katherine Benton-Cohen, Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands, (Harvard University Press, 2011).

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Forced Migration

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Immigration and migration have been pretty hot topics lately. This week a particularly interesting question has been bouncing around just about everywhere: were the people transported during the Atlantic Slave Trade immigrants? This got us thinking about forced migrations. In this episode, join Averill and Sarah as they talk about two particularly powerful examples of forced migration: the Atlantic Slave Trade, and Indian Removal. Also, a little chat at the end about the work we do, both as podcasters and as professional historians.

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Show Notes & Further Reading 

Ehle, John. The Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation (New York: Anchor Books, 1988).

Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African (London, 1789).

Inskeep, Steve. Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, And A Great American Land Grab (New York: Penguin Books, 2015).

Wheat, David.  The Iberian Roots of the Atlantic Slave Trade, from Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History 

Maiz, Jaime. The U. S. Government Imposes a “Civilization Plan,” National Parks Service

The Sequoyah Museum 

The Cherokee and the Trail of Tears, Learn NC

For more on the experience of the Atlantic Slave Trade, see this online roundtable of reactions to Sowande Muskateem’s Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage from Black Perspectives and the African American Intellectual History Society.

To see a digital representation of how land was seized from Native American peoples, see this interactive map.

And this map shows a time-lapse of the spread of cotton and the spread of slavery across the deep South. You’ll notice how it corresponds to the land seized from the Cherokee and other tribes.

For more on Cherokee culture, including lots of primary documents and information about the Cherokee people today, see the Cherokee Museum.

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Huddled Masses: Unwanted Immigrants in the Americas

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America prides itself on being a country of immigrants – after all, everyone in the United States is the descendant of an immigrant, whether forced and free, unless they are Native American. Americans believe that we offer a place of welcome so much that we emblazoned it onto the Statues of Liberty in the form of Emma Lazarus’s poem, The New Colossus, with those famous lines about the poor, tired, and huddled masses. But like most things in history, the real story is a lot more complicated. Join Averill, Marissa, and Sarah as they talk about the history of those who were turned away at the gates.

Show Notes & Further Reading: 

Baynton, Douglas. Defectives in the Land: Disability and Immigration in the Age of Eugenics. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Canaday, Margot. The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Canaday, Margot. “”Who is a Homosexual?”: The Consolidation of Sexual Identities in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Immigration Law.” Law & Social Inquiry, vol. 28, no. 2, 2003., pp. 351-386. 

Leavitt, Judith Walzer. Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public’s Health. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997.

Turner, Adam. “Paranoia on the Border: Immigration and Public Health.” Nursing Clio, July 2014.