March 8, 1932 Mexico Bound Trains: fueled by fears that Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were taking scarce jobs and government assistance during the Great Depression, it is estimated that at least 2 million people, most of who were US citizens, were deported.
Los Angeles Public Library/Herald Examiner Collection
. . . And moderate our behavior accordingly
When economic times are harsh it seems to be the human response to seek scapegoats among minority populations and punish them for circumstances for which they had no part. In fact, these financial circumstances often negatively impact scapegoats even more severely than the mainstream population. This happened all over the world in the 1930’s and early 1940’s. When people lose their money they often seem to lose their minds with it. For example, dire conditions of the early 1930s led many German voters to abandon mainstream political parties and look to more radical alternatives, such as Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
Economist, Alfred Sohn-Rethel, put it well in his observation: “Only when things went economically wrong for Germany did the Nazi Party flourish, and vice versa. Their election successes and their membership rose and fell in exact parallel to the unemployment figures. During the years of prosperity between 1924 and 1928 the Nazis as good as disappeared from the political arena. But the deeper the economy subsided into crisis, the more firmly the fascist party sat in the saddle.”
Our current president rose to office, partly on promises to deport 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally along with their U.S. born children and these promises apparently resonated with a lot of angry Americans. The Great Depression, triggered by the stock market crash of 1929, saw the rise of scapegoating all over Europe as well as in the USA.
In the 1930’s more than one million US citizens were literally snatched off the street and deported to Mexico.
Eighty-seven years ago in 1931, federal immigration agents stormed La Placita Olvera, a park near the birthplace of Los Angeles. They stuffed more than 400 men and women into vans, removing them from their families (and most of them from their country). But this was just the beginning of what was to become a mass deportation of US citizens.
Scholars estimate that during the early 1930’s, over 2 million people were sent to a Mexican homeland they had never seen before. Some barely spoke Spanish. More than half of these people were U.S. citizens, born in the USA.
It’s an almost forgotten ugly chapter in the history of the USA. However, it is documented in Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930’s –written by Francisco Balderrama, California University historian, and historian Ramon Rodriguez.
Mr. Rodriguez experienced the deportation personally. His father, Juan Rodriguez, a legal resident who had spent years tending his family’s livestock and produce farm in Long Beach was suddenly taken from his family by the “authorities.”
La Placita Olvera can happen today and this is why.
There are those who think the U.S. economy has recovered from the plunge it took in the fall of 2007 when Congress and the Bush administration sold our economy out to private banks and financial institutions. We have not—not by a long shot. Many Americans are angry about their current economic status.
True, investors may be flourishing, but ordinary Main Street Americans are not. Americans with our penchant for survival and “making do” with less are exercising that talent. To boost wages that are not living wages, many now have two jobs and some even three. Those who can are working long into their retirement years. In other words, most Americans are working harder for less and that is reflected by the “improved” economic reports—not that things have improved for most Americans.
It can happen here and this is how: by not voting
We have a responsibility as citizens to exercise our rights. One of those rights is the right to vote. That right does some with some responsibility. We not only should vote, we should do all we can to find out about the candidates before we go to the polls. We don’t learn much from their fiery rhetoric. We should know by now that many of them will promise the moon—and worse, play to our prejudices—to get elected. We learn by seeing how they have lived their lives thus far and by answering the question: what have they done for others? What do they do for others? We can learn by seeking nonpartisan evaluations of these candidates.
The Women League of Voters publishes one of the best sources for nonpartisan voting information in the USA.
The rest is up to you.
The upcoming local elections all over Texas are important. The one here in Garland is particularly important. We will be electing a mayor, voting on 36 propositions to amend our City Charter. Our second district will be electing a City Council member. There are two names on the ballot but Rex Wisdom has withdrawn from the ballot. Even though his name will still be on the ballot for voters to select.
How could I know this information about a candidate on the ballot having withdrawn?
I know it by reading page 2 of the 2018 City of Garland Voter’s Guide—an 8-page nonpartisan guide especially prepared for voters in our city by the Dallas Women League of Voters. You can ask for this guide at any of our local libraries or call 214-688-4125. Rex Wisdom is no long an official candidate for City Council in Garland.
“Local Politics Aren’t Important”
From time to time I hear that sentiment. In the final evaluation, I suppose it's all relative to the individual as to what is or is not important. However, most of the decisions that impact us the most directly are made at the local level by our City Council. Did you know, for example that about 10 years ago our City Council was considering removal of all carports in our city? Members of our City Council have huge power over our lives with their votes.