Migration from Mexico to the United States between 1900 and 1986


Term Paper, 2005
28 Pages, Grade: Sehr Gut

Excerpt

Table of Contents

Introducing

United States Immigration Traditions

Temporary Labor Force Migration from Mexico to the United States

Labor-Force Importation and Deportation Policy (1942-1964)

The Liberalisation of the Immigration Policy between 1964 and the beginning of the so-called neo-restrictive policy marked by IRCA 1986

Bibliography

Introducing

This thesis should demonstrate in what dimension the mexican migration set in in the beginning of the 20th century. To show this it is necessary have a look on the immigration policies in the late 19th century. This chapter will be very short to pass into the mexican migration from 1900 to the beginning of the Second World War which marked the end of the so-called “temporary” mexican guestworker movement. Then we are going to have a look on the migration between 1942 and 1964 characterized by the bracero program and second the period after 1964 characterized by opening and liberalizing the United States immigration policy until 1986. In 1986 because a neo-restrictive tendency in immigration policy set in but this will not b part of this analysis.

United States Immigration Traditions

US immigration traditions often have been altered by the government during the History of the United States. The United States have been, are and will be a country of immigration.

Until 1882 the federal government of the United States abstained from doing immigration policy. Regulating immigration was part of the states. Those also were not really interested in doing policies regulating immigration.

For this reason private endeavours were able to do their own immigration policy. That means labor force recruitment from other countries. Till 1900 migrant workers came mostly from Europe (Ireland, Poland, Germany, Italy).[1]

The first official policy of regulating immigration was the Immigration Act of 1875. This Act bars the immigration of convicts and of women for the purpose of prostitution.[2]

This chapter should just express that the “open doors” of America started to close in the beginning of the 20th century.

During the First World War the number of migrants from Europe declined relatively strong. Since 1917 a migration movement from South to North on the American Continent set in. The highest migration rates were from Mexico and Canada. Those countries were the main sending countries until 1919.[3]

Temporary Labor Force Migration from Mexico to the United States

The starting mexican migration of workers in a greater dimension set in during the First World War. Those people mostly worked on american farms in the southwestern and western states of the United States, primarily in the states of Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona. Those states are bordering the mexican boundary.

So for that case those states were preferred by mexican agricultural workers because of the short distance to their homeland in Mexico.[4]

The main focus of the United States regulation policy in relation to immigration at the beginning of the 20th century have been immigrants from Europe and Asia.

An annual report of the Immigration Bureau[5] of 1903 pointed out that the United States border to Mexico and the border to Canada have been completely unmonitored. Until this time the present procedure of monitoring the land border of the United States was restricted to have a look on illegal european and asian immigrants coming to the USA from Mexico and Canada.[6]

Mexican migration have not been considered as a real problem of immigration to the United States in the beginning of the 20th century. Policy-makers saw the only problem of an unmonitored landborder to Mexico that Asians and Europeans could get in the US from Mexico.

At this time Asians in general were not allowed to enter the United States.[7] Congress authorized a modest border patrol force in 1906 in response to the mentioned report of the immigration bureau of 1903.[8]

The setting in migration of mexican workers about to the First World War is characterized as a migration of short time (temporary migration) labor-force migration.

During the period of the First World War United States government started the policy to import mexican labor to the border regions to work there in the agricultural areas. Mexico itself because of its geographical closeness to the United States is appropriate to import cheap labor-force to work in agriculture.[9]

At that time immigrant workers in the southeast of the United States from middle- and eastern europe were totally replaced by mexican workers because of the geographical closeness to their homeland in mexico.

The question at that time was, what the government should do with so many workers if the are not needed anymore? The answer was, as we will see, deportation.[10]

The Immigration Act of 1917 pointed up in which direction the US-policy towards mexican migration will result. The implementation of a litercy test should complicate the entry of mexicans to the US labor market and so should do the imposition of an eight-dollar-a-head-tax for all immigrants.[11]

This has been the first official constraint on mexican migration. But the main problem was not the literacy test, it was the paying of the eight-dollar-a-head-tax for the entry of the United States.

In 1917 US authorities denied 5,745 mexican migrants for inability to pay the tax. Both constraints short-lived. The US labor market needed more workers in agriculture, so mexicans could enter the United States labor market without any restriction through border control forces.[12]

At the beginning of World War I, farmers were able to persuade the US government to make “exceptions” to immigration rules to admit mexican guest workers.[13]

In the time of the short american ecnonomic crisis from 1921 to 1924 mexican guest workers were expelled and deportet to Mexico because there were no need for workers as a result of the bad economic situation. In general Mexicans were not as much affected by restrictionist immigration policies compared to other immigrant groups.[14]

The Immigration Acts of 1921, 1924 and 1929 were based on a complicated national origins quota system to limit immigration from middle and eastern european regions.[15] The Immigration Act of 1929 was also simply an amendment of the quota system established after 1921.[16]

Separate from the above-mentioned characteristics of the national origins quota system, the quota system was only used for the white population of immigrants. A decision of the Supreme Court of 1929 brought out that an immigrant should also have the chance to become United States citizen.

The Supreme Court could not bring the fact to mind that non-white population could be naturalized at all. Societal Criteria make it impossible for Asians and Mexicans to become United States citizens at that time. Until 1929 Asians have been totally exempted from entering the United States.[17]

Those above-mentioned Immigration Acts have expressed the high-quality of mexican guest workers for the United States agricultural economy. The implication of all the restrictions mentioned above.

The import of workers has been entirely covered by mexicans so that US policy makers took the line of restrictionist policy against all other immigrants, especially from Asia and Europe again.

Kitty Calavita expressed this movement in the following way: “Congressional Debates in the 1920s confirm the intention to use Mexican immigrants as a malleable supply of labour.[18]

The deportation of mexicans during the short economic crisis in the 1920s were part of the thinking that mexican labor will be renewable again and again. Mexican workers were seen simply seen as a factor of production.

So labor as a factor of production can be renewed again and again if it is economically necessary. On the other hand labor could be easily removed again. Removing labor means in the mexican migration case deportation back to Mexico.[19]

This exposusure to human beings as an agent of productivity will be made clear by a statement made by the House Committee on Immigration of the US Congress in 1929.

The Mexican was a vulnerable alien living just a short distance from his homeland ... He, unlike Puerto Ricans or Filipinos … could easily be deported. No safer or more economical unskilled labor force was imaginable.[20]

[...]


[1] Thomas J. Archdeacon (1983), Becoming American: An Ethnic History. New York, p.34-36

[2] Edward P. Hutchinson (1981), Legislative History of American Immigration Policy, Philadelphia, p.440,441

[3] David Ward (1990), “Population Growth, Migration, and Urbanization, 1860-1920” in: Robert D. Mitchell, Paul A. Groves. North America: The Historical Geography of a Changing Continent, Savage, 14 (1), 299-319, p.309

[4] Ricardo Romo (1992), East Los Angeles, History of a Barrio, Austin, p.7-9

[5] The United States Immigration Bureau was founded in 1820. From 1920 on the immigration bureau started to collect the personal data of the immigrating persons. In 1933 President Herbert Hoover merges the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Naturalization to form the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). INS is still implemented as an agency in the US government.

[6] Daniel J. Tichenor (2002), Dividing Lines. The Politics of Immigration Control in America, New Jersey, p.168

[7] Joseph Nevins (2002), Operation Gatekeeper. The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary, London, p.26

[8] Daniel J. Tichenor (2002), Dividing Lines. The Politics of Immigration Control in America, New Jersey, p.168

[9] Kitty Calavita (1995), “Mexican Immigration to the USA: The Contradictions of Border Control“ in: Robin Cohen, The Cambridge Survey of World Migration, Cambridge, 8/1 (1/1), 236-245, p.236

[10] Michael Schülting (1998), Migration und Rassismus: Die Einwanderungsdebatte in den USA, Köln, p.20

[11] Daniel J. Tichenor (2002), Dividing Lines. The Politics of Immigration Control in America, New Jersey, p.168,169

[12] Kitty Calavita (1995), “Mexican Immigration to the USA: The Contradictions of Border Control“ in: Robin Cohen, The Cambridge Survey of World Migration, Cambridge, 8/1 (1/1), 236-245, p.236,237

[13] Martin Philip (2002), Economic Integration and Migration: The Mexico-US Case, University of California Davis, Sacramento, p.10

[14] Michael Schülting (1998), Migration und Rassismus: Die Einwanderungsdebatte in den USA, Köln, p.19-21

[15] John Higham (1988), Strangers in the Land, Patterns of American Nativism 1860-1925, London, p.310,311

[16] Rudolf J. Vecoli (1986), Immigration, Naturalization and The Constitution, News for Teachers of Political Science (50), 9-29, p.20-23

[17] William S. Bernard (1982), “A History of U.S. Immigration Policy” in: Richard Easterlin, Immigration, Cambridge, 3 (1), 75-104, p.94,96

[18] Kitty Calavita (1995), “Mexican Immigration to the USA: The Contradictions of Border Control“ in: Robin Cohen, The Cambridge Survey of World Migration, Cambridge, 8/1 (1/1), 236-245, p.237

[19] Christopher Mitchell (1997), “The Impact of U.S. Policy on Migration from Mexico and the Caribbean” in: Reiner Münz, Myron Weiner, Migrants, Refugees, and Foreign Policy: U.S. and German Policies toward Countries of Origin, Oxford, 2 (1), 35-77, p.47

[20] Mark Reisler (1976), By the Sweat of their Brow, Mexican Immigrant Labour in the United States, 1900-1940, Westpoint, p.181

Excerpt out of 28 pages

Details

Title
Migration from Mexico to the United States between 1900 and 1986
College
University of Salzburg  (Institut für Geschichte)
Course
US History Teile 2,3 und 4
Grade
Sehr Gut
Author
Year
2005
Pages
28
Catalog Number
V35823
ISBN (eBook)
9783638356312
ISBN (Book)
9783638692298
File size
644 KB
Language
English
Notes
This thesis contains a historical overview of the migration from Mexico to the United States from 1900 to 1986 marked by the commencement of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). This thesis can also be used as an overview of the U.S. policy towards mexican citizens in the 20th century.
Tags
Migration, Mexico, United, States, History, Teile
Quote paper
Harald Löberbauer (Author), 2005, Migration from Mexico to the United States between 1900 and 1986, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/35823

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