CA Apology To Deported Mexican Americans 80 Years Too Late

There are many parallels between what’s happening today with regard to immigration in America, and what happened 80 years ago during the Great Depression. The obvious comparisons are the economic downturns and their attendant consequences; 80 years ago the bottom fell out of the economy, and just a couple of years ago the bottom almost completely fell out, again. As a reaction to the crash of the 1930s, a series of stop-gaps were put into place to make sure that it never happened again, The FDIC and a slew of legislative nets were unfurled to save the banks and Wall Street from another precipice.

But there have been other consequences of the 1930s that have been slow to be addressed — and redressed. Every economic downturn, even the softest of recessions, brings with it the rise of immigrant scapegoating: the undocumented take jobs from unemployed Americans. There is no need for me to outline the present-day antagonism against immigrants, it’s a well known litany of headlines and boiling-point issues; but during the Great Depression the anti-immigrant sentiment was just as sharp, if not more so. According to a recent report in the

…nearly 2 million Mexicans and Mexican Americans…were forced to relocate south of the border during the Depression years. An estimated 400,000 U.S. citizens and legal residents were removed from California alone, following raids on Mexican-American communities who were constrained to abandon property, which was later sold to sponsor the cost for transportation to Mexico, (Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria) Molina said.

I’ll repeat that, for the sake of emphasis: 400,000 U.S. citizens and legal residents were removed from California alone, their property seized and sold to pay for their removal. For almost 80 years the fact has simmered, dried and been forgotten, until this week, when what little could be done, was done.

“L.A. was very much part of these official roundups,” said Supervisor Gloria Molina. “There’s a point in time where the only thing you can do is offer an apology.”

In 2005 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a piece of legislation that apologized to the Mexican Americans who were separated from their families and forced, illegally, to go to Mexico. The County of Los Angeles finally came around to doing the same thing this week. A plaque will be unveiled to commemorate the apology.

Eighty years later the first thing I can think of saying is “it’s about time.” But there’s more to this than a mere recognition and apology. It would be like telling bankers and the American public “we’re sorry” for what happened to you so many years ago, but you’re still on your own. See, this apology points to the heart 0f the present immigration debate. The reason that the majority of Latinos feel strongly about the anti-immigrant movement in the U.S. is that the sentiment is all inclusive.

In real life, a backlash against Latino immigrants is a backlash against all Latinos — the plight of 400,000 citizens and legal residents is proof.

The point is that an apology is not the end; it’s just a second step in a long road to recovery. As in the financial stop-gaps put in place after the Depression, the first step is recognition. The question now is, what do we do to make sure it never happens again?  What insurance do immigrants, their families and citizens who look like them have that they won’t be rounded-up, illegally, and removed form their homes?

This immigration debate we’ve been having is 80 years too old (in reality it’s more than 500 years old). So while an apology and a plaque are good things, they are only the first steps that have been a long time coming.

[Image By “A Forgotten Injustice“]

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

Progressives, Hispanics are not ‘Latinx.’ Stop trying to Anglicize our Spanish language.

Victor Landa October 29, 2019

OPINION When Yale professor Cydney Dupree and her colleague analyzed more than two decades worth of political speeches and conducted experiments searching for bias when communicating with racial minorities, they were surprised […]

Revenue is soaring for Latino-owned companies

Victor Landa October 24, 2019

Latino-owned small businesses have struck gold — and are growing faster than the competition, according to a new study. The average revenue of Latino-owned restaurants, retail stores, construction companies and […]

As Trump seeks reelection, immigrant voters stand in his path

Victor Landa

HOUSTON — This is where a nation changes: a public school auditorium that moonlights as a veritable citizenship factory. At the M.O. Campbell Educational Center, where murals honoring the arts and sciences […]

How politics threatens the 2020 Census

Victor Landa

A new report should raise alarms about the upcoming 2020 Census. According to the Pew Research Center, the good news is that the overwhelming majority of Americans are aware of the […]

One thing has united different Latino generations — defeating Trump

Victor Landa October 29, 2019

Sunday dinners in the Tambara household were more than a weekly source of food — they brought revelry, reminiscence and sometimes heated political debate — especially as presidential elections approached.  […]

Trump campaign trolls Biden by purchasing his Latino voter website

Victor Landa

Shortly after former Vice President Joe Biden announced his 2020 campaign’s effort to attract Latino voters, President Trump’s reelection campaign trolled the Democratic front-runner by purchasing the Latino voter URL named after the […]

Pineros – Immigrant forestry workers fight wildfires

Victor Landa October 30, 2019

As millions are impacted by wildfires burning in California, forestry crews are on the front lines. Largely immigrant crews known as pineros face unsafe working conditions and have little protection […]