Mexican Repatriation

This 1932 photograph depicts ethnic Mexican Southern California residents preparing to board trains headed to Mexico from Central Station at 5th Street and Central Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. The “Mexican repatriation,” which aimed to remove Mexicans from social welfare and indigent care during the Depression, deported anywhere from 400,000 to 2,000,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans between 1929 and 1936. Los Angeles was the effort’s epicenter. According to the 2006 book Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s by Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez, as many as 60 percent of the deportees were birthright citizens of the United States. This mass deportation presaged the forceable removal and internment of more than 100,000 ethnic Japanese (most of them U.S. citizens) on the West Coast a decade later. Because both forced movements were based on ethnicity and blatantly disregarded citizenship, scholars persuasively argue that they meet legal definition of ethnic cleansing. 

Herald Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.