Over a million people, more than half of whom were American citizens of Mexican descent, were deported to Mexico from the United States in the 1930s — yet this massive wave of deportations is often overlooked.

Francisco Balderrama, an expert on this “Decade of Betrayal,” says this period in American history must be brought to light. Balderrama, an author and professor of American history and Chicano studies at California State University, Los Angeles, recently spoke on Democracy Now! about this “mass expulsion” and how it relates to immigration policy under the Trump administration. Watch the full interview below:

Balderrama first explains how the press was crucial during this period because it vilified individuals of Mexican descent, although he notes that the press was “also reflecting the larger American society at this time.”

He also shares how cycles of economic hardship throughout American history have often spurred waves of xenophobia and unconstitutional deportations. Now, similar racist and xenophobic ideologies are again taking hold in American society.

READ: The United States of Immigrants

“At that time [Americans] developed this ideology, this set of beliefs, this way of thinking of the Mexican, Latino population, that somehow they are not part of our society, that they are—that many of them are criminals, many of them are here to be on welfare, that somehow, someway, they cannot become part of our society,” he says. “I think what is especially important to keep in mind…is that as we experience the nightmare of today, the crisis of today — which is different — that same ideology, that same way of thinking, is still in action today.”

Balderrama hopes, however, that despite the similar anti-Mexican rhetoric being heard today, policy will be different.

“What I think marks the difference between the past and today is, the simple fact is that we have in the Mexican community different groups,” he concludes, “and, more importantly … progressive groups [joined] together, whether they be Japanese-American, whether they be Jewish American, the various other groups who have come together and are very conscious of what is happening and are dedicated to those actions of activism to stop this, what’s occurring.”

—Posted by Emma Niles


You know the story. Independent journalism is under threat and overshadowed by heavily funded mainstream media. During this holiday season, you can help level the playing field. Become a member.

Your tax-deductible contribution keeps us digging beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that unearth what's really happening- without compromise. Give today to support our courageous, independent journalists.

As always, we wish you truth, reason and the best of the season!