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Anti-Mexican sentiment

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Title: Anti-Mexican sentiment  
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Anti-Mexican sentiment

Anti-Mexican sentiment is an aversion to people of Mexican descent, Mexican culture and/or accents of Mexican Spanish found in the United States.

In general it is closely associated with Mexican and United States Independence wars, and the struggle over Southwestern territories that once belonged to Spain through the establishment of building Catholic Missions. This eventually would lead to war between the two nations and the defeat of Mexico which came with a great loss of territory. In the 20th century, anti-Mexican sentiment continued to grow after the Zimmermann Telegram incident between the Mexican government during the Mexican Revolution and the German Empire during World War I,[1] and again the secret talks with the party of Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s to invade the Southwest. And most of all, anti-Mexican sentiment in the USA stemmed from illegal immigration. Anti-American, militaristic and purported separatist Mexican nationalist groups in the United States such as MEChA and the Raza Unida Party which have been characterized as calling for annexation of the Southwest United States into a Mexican republic called Aztlán have contributed to the backlash against Mexican immigration.


Throughout U.S. history, some Americans have circulated negative stereotypes regarding Mexican-Americans.[2] Such stereotypes have long circulated in film and other media.[3]

1840s to 1920s

As the result of the Texas Revolution and Texas annexation, the United States inherited border disputes of the Republic of Texas with Mexico, which was the factor to the eruption of the Mexican–American War (1846–48). After the United States' victory over Mexico, Mexicans signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty required Mexico to cede over half its land to the United States in exchange for 15 million dollars. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo also guaranteed that Mexican citizens living in ceded lands would retain property rights and would be given United States citizenship if they remained in ceded lands for at least one year. This Treaty and others led to the establishment of the International Boundary and Water Commission in 1889, to maintain the border, allocate river waters between the two nations, and provide for flood control and water sanitation[4] although the treaties and the IBWC itself have been criticized for anti-Mexican bias.

The lynching of Mexicans and Mexican US-Americans in the Southwest has long been overlooked in American history. This may be because the Tuskegee Institute files and reports, which contain most comprehensive lynching records in the United States, categorized Mexican, Chinese, and Native American lynching victims as white.[5] Statistics of reported lynching in the United States indicate that, between 1882 and 1951, 4,730 persons were lynched, of whom 1,293 were white and 3,437 were black.[6] The actual known amount of Mexicans lynched is unknown. William D. Carrigan and Clive Web estimate that at least 597 Mexicans were lynched between 1848 and 1928 (this is a conservative estimate due to lack of records in many reported lynchings).[5]

Between 1848 to 1879, Mexicans were lynched at an unprecedented rate of 473 per 100,000 of population. These lynchings cannot be excused as merely "frontier justice"—of the 597 total victims, only 64 were lynched in areas which lacked a formal judicial system.[5]

During the California Gold Rush, as many as 25,000 Mexicans arrived in California. Many of these Mexicans were experienced miners and had great success mining gold in California. Some Anglos perceived their success as a collective loss to U.S. wealth and intimidated Mexican miners with violence. Between 1848 and 1860, at least 163 Mexicans were lynched in California alone.[7] One particularly infamous lynching occurred on July 5, 1851 when a Mexican woman named Josefa Segovia was lynched by a mob in Downieville, California. She was accused of killing a white man who had attempted to assault her after breaking into her home.[8]

Anti-Mexican mob violence and intimidation resulted in Mexicans being displaced from their lands, denied access to natural resources, and becoming politically disenfranchised.

The Bisbee Deportation was the illegal deportation of about 1,300 striking mine workers, their supporters, and citizen bystanders by 2,000 vigilantes on July 12, 1917. The workers and others were kidnapped in the U.S. town of Bisbee, Arizona and held at a local baseball park. They were then loaded onto cattle cars and transported 200 miles (320 km) for 16 hours through the desert without food or water. The deportees were unloaded at Hermanas, New Mexico, without money or transportation, and warned not to return to Bisbee.


The Mexican American community has been the subject of widespread immigration raids. During the Great Depression, the United States government sponsored a Mexican Repatriation program, which was intended to pressure people to move to Mexico, but many were deported against their will. More than 500,000 individuals were deported, one source estimates that approximately 60 percent of which were United States citizens.[9][10][11][12] In the post-war McCarthy era, the Justice Department launched Operation Wetback.


A US army soldier stands beside a Zoot suiter, Washington D.C. 1942

According to the National World War II Museum, between 250,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served in the Armed Forces during World War II. Thus, Hispanic Americans comprised 2.3% to 4.7% of the Army. The exact number, however is unknown as at the time Hispanics were classified as whites. Generally Mexican American World War II servicemen were integrated into regular military units. However, many Mexican–American War veterans were discriminated against and even denied medical services by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs when they arrived home.[13] In 1948, war veteran Dr Hector P. Garcia founded the American GI Forum to address the concerns of Mexican American veterans who were being discriminated against. The AGIF's first campaign was on the behalf of Felix Longoria, a Mexican American private who was killed in the Philippines in the line of duty. Upon the return of his body to his hometown of Three Rivers, Texas, he was denied funeral services because he was Mexican American.

In the 1940s, imagery in newspapers and crime novels portrayed Mexican American zoot suiters as disloyal foreigners or murderers attacking non-Hispanic White police officers and servicemen. Anti-zoot suiters sentiment sparked a series of attacks on young Mexican American males in Los Angeles which became known as the Zoot Suit Riots. The worst of the rioting occurred on June 9, during which 5,000 servicemen and civilians gathered in downtown Los Angeles and attacked Mexican-American zoot suiters and non-zoot suiters alike. The rioting eventually spread to the predominantly African American neighborhood of Watts.[14][15]

Mexican American school children were subject to racial segregation in the public school system. They were forced to attend "Mexican schools" in California. In 1947, the Mendez v. Westminster ruling declared that racially segregating children of "Mexican and Latin descent" in state-operated public schools in Orange County and the state of California was unconstitutional. This ruling helped lay the foundation for the landmark Brown v Board of Education case which ended racial segregation in the public school system.[16]


In many counties in the southwestern United States, Mexican Americans were not selected as jurors in court cases which involved a Mexican American defendant.[17] In 1954, Pete Hernandez, an agricultural worker, was indicted of murder by an all-non-Hispanic White jury in Jackson County, Texas. Hernandez believed that the jury could not be impartial unless members of other races were allowed on the jury-selecting committees, seeing that a Mexican American had not been on a jury for more than 25 years in that particular county. Hernandez and his lawyers decided to take the case to the Supreme Court. The Hernandez v. Texas Supreme Court ruling declared that Mexican Americans and other cultural groups in the United States were entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.[18]

Many organizations, businesses, and homeowners associations had official policies to exclude Mexican Americans. In many areas across the Southwest, Mexican Americans lived in separate residential areas, due to laws and real estate company policies. This group of laws and policies, known as redlining, lasted until the 1950s, and fall under the concept of official segregation.[19][19][20][21] For instance, signs with the phrase "No Dogs or Mexicans" were posted in small businesses and public pools throughout the Southwest well into the 60s.[13]

Operation Wetback was a 1954 operation by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to remove illegal immigrants, mostly Mexican nationals from the southwestern United States. Tactics employed included going house to house in Mexican-American neighborhoods.


One of the most vicious cases occurred at the U.S.–Mexico border west of heart attack, and after three trials one of the Hanigan sons was convicted in federal court, and the other was found not guilty.[22]


Despite cultural emphasis on diversity, tolerance and antiracism in the U.S., Mexican Americans continued to experience direct racism and some level of media stereotypes branded them as foreign (unassimilated), urban criminals, overmasculine, oversexed and even undesirable. Also, the politically charged issue of giving amnesty to undocumented immigrants was opposed by mainly conservative political circles.

In 1994, California state voters approved Proposition 187 by a wide majority, the initiative allowed state-provided services from public education to private medical hospitals to examine any patient or client's citizenship status. Many Mexican-Americans opposed such measures as reminisicent of pre-civil rights era ethnic discrimination and even denounced these actions as illegal under state and federal laws, as well international law when it involves the rights of foreign nationals in other countries. The proposition was brought to attention to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, in which the Proposition was declared unconstitutional.

The Chandler Roundup was a law enforcement operation in Chandler, Arizona, in 1997 in which suspected illegal immigrants were arrested based solely on their skin color. Many U.S. citizens and legal residents were also stopped and arrested.


Some private citizens groups have been established to apprehend immigrants that have crossed into the United States illegally. These groups have also been accused of discrimination like the Minuteman Project and other anti-immigration organizations because of their aggressive and sometimes illegal tactics.

According to FBI statistics, the number of anti-Latino hate crimes increased by 35 percent between 2003 and 2007 and doubling in California.[23]

Additional recent incidents

On May 30, 2009, US citizens Raul "Junior" Flores, 29, and his daughter, Brisenia Flores, age nine, of Arivaca, Arizona, were murdered by Shawna Forde, executive director of Minutemen American Defense, and her accomplices.

In July 2008, Luis Ramirez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, was beaten to death by several young men in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania while walking home one evening. Witnesses reported that the assailants yelled racial epithets at Ramirez as they attacked him.[24] Luis' (white) fiance and mother of his two children, Crystal Dillman, was quoted as saying of the four teenagers, "I think they might get off, because Luis was an illegal Mexican and these are 'all-American boys' on the football team who get good grades, or whatever they're saying about them. They'll find some way to let them go." [25] Brandon Piekarsky, 17, and Derrick Donchak, 19, received sentences of 7 to 23 months for their roles in the murder of 25-year-old Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez.[26] Piekarsky and Donchak were subsequently convicted of civil rights violations in federal court and sentenced to 9 years in federal prison.

In 2008, Mexican Rodolfo Olmedo was dragged down by a group of men shouting anti-Mexican epithets and bashed over the head with a wooden stick on the street outside his home, the first of 11 suspected anti-Hispanic bias attacks in the Staten Island neighborhood of Port Richmond, Staten Island in that year. Port Richmond is a predominantly African-American neighborhood that has seen a large influx of Mexican immigrants.[27] Rolston Hopson, William Marcano and Tyrone Goodman, all age 17, were charged in the assault.[28]

In California, the state with the largest Mexican and Mexican-American population, the number of hate crimes against Mexicans has almost doubled. The anti-Mexican feelings can also be directed against other Latino American nationalities in the USA, even though anti-Mexican sentiment exists in some Caribbean and South American groups.[29][30] This statistic has been challenged by the anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform for selecting a base year (2003) in which anti-Latino hate crimes were reported at an unusually low level and for not indexing the increase with the corresponding increase in the Hispanic population.

Since Alabama's immigration H.B.56, Birmingham, Alabama delicatessen owner Steve Dubrinsky "has been 'under attack' since speaking out for his restaurant's documented immigrant employees." [31]

There have been many criticisms toward ICE and various politicians on what has been perceived by some as anti-Mexican speech or actions. In modern times, organizations such as neo-nazi, white supremacist, American nationalist, and nativist groups have all been known to and continue to intimidate, harass and advocate the use of violence towards Mexican-Americans.[32][33][34][35] Ethnic slurs such as "wetback", "dogs" (as described by a member of the Houston Independent School District's Board of Trustees), "spick" or "spic", "dirty Mexican", "beaner", "illegal", "alien", "cucaracha", "bandido" or "bandito" (a derivate of English "bandit" emulating aspects of West Iberian languages rather than a misspell of Spanish bandido) have been used.

See also


  1. ^ "Resources 4 Educators". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  2. ^ Flores Niemann Yolanda, et al. Black-Brown-Red Relations and Stereotypes (2003); Charles Ramírez Berg, Latino Images in Film: Stereotypes, Subversion, & Resistance (2002); Chad Richardson, Batos, Bolillos, Pochos, and Pelados: Class & Culture on the South Texas Border (1999)
  3. ^ Life on the Texas-Mexico Border: Myth and reality as represented in Mainstream and Independent Western Cinema
  4. ^ Robert J. McCarthy, Executive Authority, Adaptive Treaty Interpretation, and the International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S.-Mexico, 14-2 U. Denv. Water L. Rev. 197(Spring 2011) (also available for free download at
  5. ^ a b c Carrigan, William D. and Clive Web. "The lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent in the United States, 1848 to 1928" The Journal of Social History 37:2 (Winter 2003): 413.
  6. ^ "lynching." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 22 Dec. 2009 .
  7. ^ Citation needed
  8. ^ Latinas: Area Studies Collections
  9. ^ 1930s Mexican Deportation: Educator brings attention to historic period and its effect on her family
  10. ^ Counseling Kevin: The Economy
  11. ^ Mexican Repatriation in 1930s is Little Known Story
  12. ^ Chapter Fifteen
  13. ^ a b press3b
  14. ^ Zoot Suit Riots
  15. ^ Chapter Sixteen
  16. ^ LatinoLA - Latino Hollywood - On Screen and Behind the Scenes
  17. ^ Handbook of Texas Online - HERNANDEZ V. STATE OF TEXAS
  18. ^ "Hernandez v. Texas | The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  19. ^ a b RACE - History - Post-War Economic Boom and Racial Discrimination
  20. ^ JS Online: Filmmaker explores practice of redlining in documentary
  21. ^ Black, Brown, Yellow, and Left: Radical Activism in Los Angeles - Laura Pulido - Google Boeken. 2005-12-17. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  22. ^ Miller, Tom. On the Border: Portraits of America's Southwestern Frontier, p. 143-173.
  23. ^ Democracy Now: "FBI Statistics Show Anti-Latino Hate Crimes on the Rise" December 5, 2007
  24. ^ "Federal Grand Jury Indictment Alleges Hate Crime and Police Cover-Up in the Murder of Mexican Immigrant". 2009-12-16. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Rosario, Mariela (2009-06-18). "Teens Convicted of Murdering Luis Ramirez Sentenced to 7 Months in Jail". Latina. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  27. ^ Fox News: "Attacks against Mexican immigrants in NYC's Staten Island inflame black-Hispanic tensions" August 16, 2010
  28. ^ NY1: "Four Teens Charged With Alleged Staten Island Bias Attack" By Tetiana Anderson April 10, 2010
  29. ^
  30. ^ Democracy Now! | FBI Statistics Show Anti-Latino Hate Crimes on the Rise
  31. ^ "Max's Deli owner talks about backlash after speaking out for legal immigrants |". 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  32. ^ ABC News: New Immigrant Backlash: KKK Targets Mexicans
  33. ^ Anti-Latino Violence
  34. ^ 4 Are Held in Attack on Mexican Immigrants - New York Times
  35. ^ News: Hispanics become targets of hatred in Ohio -
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