Becoming Mexican American
George J. Sanchez
Becoming Mexican American is George J. Sanchez’s document how Chicanos survived as a community in Los Angeles during the first part of the twentieth century. He goes into detail of how many thousands of Mexicans were pushed back in to Mexico during a formal repatriation. Those that survived in Los Angeles joined labor unions and became involved in New Deal politics.
The experience of Mexican-Americans in the United States is both similar, yet different from other minority groups. They were treated much like the Irish-American and other newcomers of the ninetieth century. Mexican-Americans also like the Irish, soon made themselves indispensable in the first half of the twentieth century as …show more content…
In addition, efforts by Mexican-American leaders to unionize farm workers were crushed. There were rare U.S. farmers sympathetic to their workers, who noted that even though Mexicans were asking for a well-deserved wage increase, the growers’ response was to employ a vicious strike-breaking machinery of vigilantes, night riders, tear gas and conservative newspapers that were anti-union and even racist in efforts to break the union and keep the workers at bay. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, residential segregation increased, and Mexicans who had been scattered through much of the city found themselves flooding into county east of the Los Angeles River. This area is known today as East L.A.
Many Mexicans found the notion of repatriation attractive. As the winter of 1930-31 loomed, long caravans of motor vehicles were spotted crossing the border heading south and packed to the gills with personal belongings. By the end of 1930, an estimated ten thousand Mexicans had left, ostensibly for good (Sanchez 213). Later, those too poor to afford cars or trucks were offered cash payments to board the free trains to the border that were being arranged by a coalition of L.A. County officials and private leaders (Sanchez 215). Thanks to the efforts, it’s believed that the Mexican community in Los Angeles alone lost as much as 30 percent of its people in