Thursday, February 23, 2012

Los Deportados - A little known chapter in U.S. History

Recently I wrote about Fred T. Korematsu - who did not go gently to the WWII Japanese Internment Camps. He among others felt it was not the American Way to maltreat a group of people who were a part of the United States.

I have to wonder how he felt, if he knew, about the the Mexicanos and Mexican American citizens that were deported to Mexico during the 1930s.

The story of one family starts with the mother and father attending schools in Pasadena, meeting, falling in love with each other, and then getting married. They and their children were repatriated and lived in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico from 1931 5o 1934. While they were in Mexico a son was born and one of their daughters died. She remains buried in Mexico. They had a daughter conceived in Mexico that was born in Pasadena in 1935 - following their return to the United States.

Many like those in this image from Borderlands were American citizens who were born or who had lived almost all of their live in the United States. They wore the "American" fashions, spoke poor Spanish - their native language was English, and understood the culture and customs of the states like California, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, and Michigan. Simply because of their heritage they found themselves in a land that was not known to them.

Photo courtesy David Perez Lopez
This past Tuesday at the L.A. Board of Supervisors there was a "presentation to MALDEF recognizing their efforts to pursue a formal apology from the State of California to those individuals and families adversely affected by the Mexican Repatriation Program of the 1930s".* Supervisor Gloria Molina arranged this presentation.

An invitation to an event that will take place on this coming Sunday at LA Plaza de Cultura y Art gives the following brief description -
"Beginning in 1929, the U.S. government forcibly removed people of Mexican ancestry from the United States in a progrma called Repatriation. In California, approximately 400,000 American citizens and legal residents of Mexican ancestry were deported to Mexico.
Courtesy Los Repatriados website
In remembrance to those repatriated , the State of California Apology plaque will be place in the garden at LA Plaza on Sunday, February 26th".

This Sunday from 1:30-4:00 there will be music, panel conversations, and a Hands-on Art Workshop. The event is free and open to the public.


  1. You're right. I never knew about this. It's pretty shocking.

    Was there a reason (trumped up or no)? Or was it just "send them away"?

  2. There certainly was the latter, but there was also the effort to "Save American jobs for Americans". Hauntingly familiar, que no?

  3. No kidding. I keep thinking we might learn from this stuff (Japanese internment, etc.) but no.
    I was at a favorite store in Pasadena a few months ago and heard the proprietor talking about some group she was giving money to in order to "stop the Muslims, we can't have Muslims in Pasadena." I don't shop there anymore.

  4. Oh, I reviewed my notes. The last phrase should be modified to read - ...for real Americans".
    I think this is a part of who we are as human beings. These moments of exclusion pop up repeatedly. The question is how and when we do as you do and remove support from those who would treat any group of people as "lesser than".

  5. As if the United States of America was founded by natives in the first place.