How the Chicano Community in the United States ChangedChapter 5: The Great Migration: 1900-1930 During this time period, we had millions of Mexicanos leaving their native lands andcoming to the US. The push and pull factors that brought about this movement was due to theMexican revolution had left the country with violence, political corruption, and few job and landopportunities for the peasant class. Combined with economic growth in the American Southwest,Mexicanos made their way into the New Country in hopes of economic opportunity. This new wave of Mexican immigrants in the US differed from the community ofMexicans who were already in the Southern states. Many of the previous immigrants werepolitical exiles from the Mexican Revolution and were skilled workers of urban and professionalbackgrounds. However, the newer immigrants from the early part of the 20th century wereattracted to the southwest for railroad, mining, and agriculture jobs. These jobs were unskilledand highly seasonal. Therefore, these newer immigrants were forced in ethnic barrios an evenlabor camp living quarters that were over crowded and had poor sanitation. The Mexicanimmigrants were an indispensable labor force that worked hard and dangerous jobs under lowwages. They often moved frequently especially in agricultural industries to follow what cropswere in season. Initially, the Mexican immigrant that arrived in the first three decades of the 20thcentury planned on returning home to Mexico after acquiring enough economic resources inAmerican to live well in their home country. But what these new immigrants found once in theUS was limited jobs, lack of education, and poor living conditions which all made socialmobility unlikely.
Political factors that influences how the Mexican community in the US changed duringthis period centered around an anti-Mexican sentiment. The racial attitude of most Americansafter a long history of non-whites being discriminated, and because of strong anti-Mexicansentiment in the US, Mexican immigrants gained a strong sense of nationalism to their nativelands as they were isolated residentially and in the work place from Anglo’s. They also receivedpoor treatment from the already established Mexican American community in the US whopreferred to call themselves Spanish-American and not be associated with the lower class newercholos. Again economic conditions also affected the position and treatment of the Mexicanimmigrants in the US. The new immigrants were also often taken advantaged by contratistas,often immigrants themselves, who served as middlemen between the immigrant contractworkforce and their employees, stealing money from the immigrants. The newer immigrantslacked education and English language skills which made them open to such schemes and poortreatment. Mexican immigrants often worked and lived along side European immigrant groups aswell as African Americans, Asians, and Indians. Towards the end of the 1920’s much of the Mexican immigrants community in the USwas moving North into the cities abandoning rural agricultural life. Most of the Mexicanimmigrants that entered the US during the early 1990’s were largely undocumented but this notan issue due to the cheap labor force that the Mexicanos provided to the US industries. Butduring the 1930’s after the fall of the US stock market, financial crisis ensued almost allAmericans and especially Mexican immigrants. As the agricultural industries dried up, evenmore Mexicanos headed for the cities.
Chapter 6: The Depression: 1930-1940 Social and living conditions for Mexican immigrants in the southwest during this timeperiod continued to be disastrous as the ethnic enclaves were over crowded, poor sanitation, lackof social services and segregated under funded schools for non-white children. Bu ton the flipside, the barrios offered a cultural realm that was beneficial. The ethnic enclaves formed “LittleMexicos” were Spanish was the dominate language and the Catholic Church ran social functionsand community events. The barrios played Spanish movies and radio programs. Chicano scholarsview the Mexican barrios in a positive light rather than ghettos that fueled violence and crime. Inthe barrios, culture, customs and community were focal points. Mexican immigrants living in urban areas in the midwest had a slightly differentexperience. The midwest cities were highly urbanized therefore immigrants received higherwages and better education. Also, the immigrant communities were mixed with Mexican barriosbordering European immigrant communities. They two often intermarried and this joinexperience made the Mexican assimilation process quicker. Also, in the midwest cities,Mexicanos were further away from their homeland making it harder to keep ties to the OldCountry. After the first World War, a nativism perspective was popular among Americans to keepAmerica pure and with economic strife following the depression, many felt the growing presenceof Mexican immigrants in the cities as a threat to white jobs and influx of crime and violence.Again this anti-Mexican and anti-sentiment took on a racial perspective as Mexicanos werelooked at as dirty, heathens that were unassimilable. The”Mexican Problem” was part of a largeranti immigration campaign that led to legislation that mandated immigration quotas in 1921 and
1924. However, southwest corporations fought to keep their cheap labor force available thereforeallowing sometime before Mexicans were targeted specifically in the anti immigration campaign.But because of the poor economic conditions in the US, many Mexicans after the 1930’s returnedback to Mexico however several involuntarily. Repatriation was targeted heavily toward thesouthern California Mexican community and racial tensions were intense during this period. The economic outcome of the depression brought labor strife which allowed for Mexicanactivists and labor organization. Mexicanos realized they were going to stay in the US andneeded to address the issues they faced in the job market. The labor strikes and union movementof the 1930’s though unsuccessful demonstrated Mexicanos militancy to fight for fair wages andimproved conditions. The Mexican government also supported their citizens abroad. Further,Mexicanas who have always been vital to the Mexican community showed their resilience inlabor organization fighting now only for work conditions but civil rights as well.