Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

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DD
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Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

DD
By columnist  Marlen Garcia
Chicago Sun Times

Tough economic times can bring out the worst in a great country.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the U.S. government shipped thousands of Mexicans and Mexican Americans to Mexico in what became known as Mexican Repatriation.

Ruben D. Aguilar, born in Chicago, was only 6 when his family was forced to leave in 1933. They were crammed into trucks and trains for the long haul.

“You were like cattle,” he tells me.

Aguilar, 85, is not an angry man, but the hurt is still there. A younger brother, who had been sick, died within months of the family’s arrival on the outskirts of Mexico City.

“It sounds like an awful thing, but it’s one of those circumstances,” Aguilar says of his family’s treatment. “It’s so sad to remember. There were so many tears.”

For many years he struggled to help his family survive in Mexico: He earned pennies selling newspapers, shined shoes and endured beatings while being mugged for shoe-shining equipment his father made. He did much of this before his teenage years while trying to master the Spanish language.

Eventually he became a stellar student and won a college scholarship to a Mexican university, only to have it revoked because he wasn’t a Mexican citizen.

At 18, the U.S. government tracked him down and ordered his return. This country didn’t want him until it needed him to fight in World War II.

“My father said, ‘What a great country you’re going back to,’ ” Aguilar recalls.

Yet when Aguilar got off a bus in Laredo, Texas, and tried to use a public restroom, he was greeted cruelly by a sign that said no dogs or Mexicans.

Aguilar thinks back to that and says, “It’s still a great country. You’ve got an underdog, upper dog and top dog. You need all kinds of dogs to make a country.”

As he prepared to serve in the war, it ended. He served this country later, during the Korean War as a U.S. Marine. In between he worked and saved to bring his parents back to the U.S.

“I thought it was Christmas every day,” he says of the money he made.

Aguilar later opened a textile factory in Chicago and employed dozens. He married and raised a family.

Self-respect was vital. “That’s the most important thing every human being has,” he says. “Respect gives you armor. It gives you protection. It keeps you going.”

His poignant story is important because history is repeating itself. Amid current harsh economic times, Mexicans and Mexican Americans are being treated with varying levels of hostility.

“It’s very similar,” Rita D. Hernandez, Aguilar’s friend and a former Chicago Public Schools teacher with a Ph.D. in cultural and educational policy, says of the vicious cycle. “Whenever the economy is in bad shape, people look for a scapegoat.”

The Obama administration’s record for deportations is off the charts. Many hard-line conservatives seem to forget their ancestors came from a foreign place.

Families are shattered. You hope they move on with the kind of strength and resolve that Aguilar has had.

“I learned from my father that no matter how tough life is, you must face it,” says Aguilar, who, late in life, ran a graphic design shop in Pilsen until he closed it earlier this year.

“The lumps are there. And they don’t disappear overnight.”

http://www.suntimes.com/news/garcia/16112370-452/shipped-back-to-mexico-in-1933.html

DD
Words are powerful weapons, be careful how you use them.
SRG
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Re: Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

SRG
Intresting! my dad was telling me about this he thought it might happen again, i wonder how they forced mexican americans to leave?
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Re: Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

Baggy
After reading this http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/pqo01 trying to findout more about the mexican repatriation, I would like someone to explain without sarcasm what EXACTLY is a wetback??? I know its used mostly as a racial slur but after reading that doc i'm curious as to its original meaning and also what a BRACERO is?or was.would rather ask people who are likely to know the proper meaning and perhaps reasoning behind it than just checkin online/googlin

@SRG some of the info i have found says that during op wetback they also did expatriate AMERICAN CITIZENs, it was done by arresting and probably cuffing and busing them to the border, different instance to what DD is talkin about but i don't think they would have done anything different in the 30's
Patriotism is a propaganda tool used to make people blind to the lies of their government through unquestioning devotion.
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Re: Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

Windycitykid
Bracero was a program between the U.S and Mex, bracero was a term used to describe the mexicans as strong arms.
"Great minds have purpose, others have wishes" - Washington Irvin
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Re: Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

Baggy
In reply to this post by SRG
@SRG  Most people were unconstitutionally denied their legal rights of Due Process and Equal Protection under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment. Any presence of the law was absent whilst hundreds of thousands of people were interrogated and detained by authorities. When it came to federal deportation proceedings, undocumented immigrants, once apprehended, had two options. They could either ask for a hearing or “voluntarily” return back to their native country


@Windy Thanks, but i still don't understand what they are saying when... " Because of the low wages paid to legal, contracted braceros, many of them skipped out on their contracts either to return home or to work elsewhere for better wages as wetbacks."   The way its written seem's to imply wetback as a form of employment??
Patriotism is a propaganda tool used to make people blind to the lies of their government through unquestioning devotion.
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Re: Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

Eskribe
They call us wetbacks cause our back are wet from crossing the river.lol it's ok I'm mexican
DD
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Re: Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

DD
In reply to this post by Baggy
@Baggy.  when it refers to "work elsewhere ..as wetbacks", it is referring to their status as legal or illegal.  Working as a bracero, they were legal, working as a 'wetback',  they were illegal.
DD
Words are powerful weapons, be careful how you use them.
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Re: Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

katattx
In reply to this post by Baggy
The original meaning of the term "wetback" refers to an immigrant from south of the Rio Grande (division between Texas and Mexico) who swam across the river to get here. Therefore his back is wet. Also could refer to the fact that Mexican immigrants typically have done manual labor jobs in the heat of Texas, therefore they are wet with sweat. Either way it is a derogatory  and racist slang term. Its smart to avoid using it.
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Re: Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

katattx
In reply to this post by Baggy
I grew up in agriculture in the Coastal Bend of Texas. In my extended family, one uncle had contacts in MX and every few months during times of intense agricultural labor need, a group of illegal immigrant male workers would come work for the farmers. While the group was here temporarily, they would handle fence-fixing, hay hauling, and other big jobs. Then they would go to the next farmer and repeat. Several farmers would "pass around" a group of Mexicans who would work, then return to Mexico. They were illegal, and referred to commonly as "wetbacks". The term is often used in a racist way to describe anyone of Mexican or Central American ancestry, legal resident or not.
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Re: Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

Baggy
Ok, Yep i get that its a derogatory term but the way it was written made it sound like a form of employment, Ain't it weird that words that don't really mean anything can be used as racial insults?
Patriotism is a propaganda tool used to make people blind to the lies of their government through unquestioning devotion.
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Re: Shipped back to Mexico — in 1933

katattx
I think that my grandparents mostly talked about Mexicans in two ways: Using the word "wetback" while talking about workers/day laborers. I can see how it would be easily confused with employment. I think the "bracero" program was a legal, organized way to bring temp, migrant farm workers into the US. I hear some calls that we should have a program like that again. No matter what anyone tells you, there are still many immigrants working in agriculture  and farming, as well as construction. Its all good-like George Lopez says "If a Mexican is taking your job, you got a fucked up job"!! I did agricultural work as a kid...I'll pass. If someone wants to travel hours/days to come pick corn or fix fences, I say have at it. I sure don't want to do that work!

Most of the people I've known, both as a kid and as an adult in immigrant neighborhoods, are here to work. They never seek medical treatment, avoid the cops like the plague, and generally mind their own business. Hard-workers, doing the crappiest jobs. I respect that. I don't respect the traffickers, esp the ones preying on folks just trying to find work.