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Mexican Immigration to the United States

Page history last edited by ljacobs@umass.edu 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Three Mexican Flags in a Stiff Breeze
Topics on the Page

Current Facts and Historical Overview

The Border

Historical Chronology and Important Developments

  • Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819


  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848



  • Las Gorras Blancas, 1889-1891


  • Mexican Railroad Laborers, 1900



  • Mexican Repatriation, 1930s & 1940s



  • Operation Wetback, 1954


  • The Secure Fence Act, 2006


Cross Link: The Latino Civil Rights Movement




Current Facts and Historical Overview 

Timeline of U.S.- Mexican Relations (by Council on Foreign Relations)


Time Article about History of Mexican Immigration to US

Photos and information about the US- Mexican Border from National Geographic

Mexican Immigration in the United States, Migration Policy Institute


  • In 2014, there were 11.7 million Mexican immigrants in the United States


    • China and India now provide more immigrants to the United States than Mexico


5 Facts About Mexico and Immigration to the U. S., Pew Research Center (February 11, 2016)

More Mexican Immigrants Leaving the U.S. Than Entering, Report Finds, the New York Times (November 19, 2015)

The History of Mexican Immigration to the U.S. in the early 20th Century, Library of Congress

Uneasy Neighbors: A Brief History of Mexican-U.S. Migration, Harvard Magazine (May/June 2007)

Hoover, Truman and Ike: Mass Deporters? from FactCheck.org (July 2010)


  • Refutes a false claim that 13 million people were deported under these Presidential administrations


The Impact of Mexican Maternal Migration on Children’s Future Ambitions



The Border


Tijuana, Mexico, right, and San Diego, California
Tijuana, Mexico, right, and San Diego, California


The Changing Mexico-U.S. Border, from Worlds Revealed: Geography and Maps, Library of Congress

The U.S.-Mexico Border: Under the Economic Lens and in the Historical Frame

United States-Mexico Borderlands, Smithsonian Education


  Interactive Map from National Geographic


Historical Chronology and Important Events


The Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819


Primary source document of President Polk's Call on Congress to Declare War on Mexico- Includes an annotation about the document to give context to the time period and prior events leading up to the call for war.


 Interactive PBS website about US- Mexican War


  • Many lesson plans and resources to use in classes for themes surrounding the U.S.- Mexican war, including investigations into Manifest Destiny, media's impact on the war and the public's perceptions of the war, songs of the war and the legacy of the war. Includes many primary sources, newspapers and illustrations and videos.


This video chronicles the history of Mexican immigration into the United States from post WWII https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7PUnuTh5tM


The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848)


  • Granted citizenship to Mexicans living in territory ceded to the U.S. by Mexico after the Mexican War



Mexican Immigrants and California Gold Rush




Las Gorras Blancas (The White Caps)


  • A group of Mexican-Americans living in New Mexico protesting against Anglo-Americans that moved into and took their land following the Homestead Act in 1862.


  • Las Gorras Blancas rebelled against the Anglo-Americans that were taking their lands by cutting the fences and barbed wire the Anglo- Americans put up to enclose and claim lands. This poster was created to commemorate this group.


Mexican Railroad Laborers (1900)


  • U.S. railroad companies actively recruited Mexican workers to help build railroads after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act limited the Asian worker supply


  • Estimated that 60 percent of railroad workers at the turn of the century were Mexicans


The Bath Riots of 1917: Crossing the US-Mexican Border 

Image: https://nomasep.com/ 

Carmelita Torres, known only from the newspapers as “an auburn haired amazon”, was 17 years old when she led women in anti-American rioting that shut down the US-Mexican border.


  • Her protesting uncovers the story of the US campaign of disinfection and discrimination at the border. The Mexican revolution was ongoing from 1910-1920 and the US entrance into WWI was heightening fears of invasion.


  • Fueled by fear and the Eugenics movement (attempt to create a genetically and morally superior population), the stereotype of Mexicans as unclean and inferior led to forced fumigations of Mexican immigrants at the US border.


  • Contract laborers were forced to endure these inspections often as they crossed the border for work. Carmelita Torres defied the order to bathe and led a revolt of women against the toxic baths, inspections, and sexual humiliations on January 28, 1917.


Watch, listen, and read to learn more about the US fumigations of Mexican immigrants at the border and about Carmelita Torres as a strong protest leader and what earned her the comparison as “the Rosa Parks of the border”.  


The dark history of "gasoline baths" at the border

The 1917 Bath Riots - HISTORY



Mexican Repatriation: Mass Deportations of the 1930s and 1940s


  • During the Great Depression an estimated 1 million Mexicans nationals and American citizens of Mexican descent left the United States (60 percent of whom were U.S. citizens)






 Primary source newspaper articles from the repatriation


external image june-18-1954-p1-normal.gif

Operation Wetback (1954)


  • 1 million Mexicans were deported or departed under threat of deportation


  • Lasted only a few months/discontinued after drownings on ships being used to transport people was protested by the Mexican government





The Secure Fence Act (2006)

Fact Sheet on the Secure Fence Act, Bush White House Archives


  • 700 miles of fencing completed in 2007
    • Estimated cost $2.8 million per mile

Fact-Check: Did Top Democrats Vote for a Border Wall in 2006? Politifact (April 23, 2017)

National Labor Relations Board and Mexican Foreign Ministry Sign Letter of Agreement (2013)

  • Provides access to information and education regarding rights and responsibilities for Mexican workers and their employers

Mexican American Migrations and Communities, Primary Sources from the Library of Congress



Quiz Question:

The Obama administration deported more Mexican immigrants than all other presidents of the 20th century combined?





Answer: True- During the Obama administration 2.5 million Mexican immigrants were deported from the United States, as a result the number of Mexicans leaving the United States has been greater than those entering since 2009.




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