Deportation revisited

History repeats itself. When times get tough economically, we look for a scapegoat. Currently, it’s illegal immigrants who are taking all of our jobs and using all of our services. We must deport them, presidential candidates scream.

Francisco E. Balderrama, the author of Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s, spoke at length to Terri Gross about our earlier strive to purge the US of Mexican-Americans.

In the 1930s—not the early ’30s or the late ’30s, but the entire decade—we turned on Mexican-Americans, deporting them in droves. Legal and illegal. People born here and who lived their whole lives here. People who didn’t speak Spanish.

They were all to go. We didn’t discriminate in our rush to discriminate. We escorted them to the border but many came back. Then we paid to transport them not just to the border but deep into Mexico.

When did this decade of madness end? December 7, 1941. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor and our entry into WWII, suddenly jobs were plenty and we needed all the workers we could get.

So when will our current passion for deporting end? When the US realizes that it needs immigrants—legal and illegal—for many of our jobs?

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