Anti-Mexican sentiment

Anti-Mexican sentiment

Anti-Mexican sentiment refers to hostility or fear against Mexico, people of Mexican citizenship or descent, or Mexican culture.

Hostility against Mexican-Americans

Throughout U.S. history, American people circulated negative stereotypes regarding Mexican Americans. [ Flores Niemann Yolanda, "et al." ‘’Black-Brown 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)] Such stereotypes have long circulated in the media. [ [ Life on the Texas-Mexico Border: Myth and reality as represented in Mainstream and Independent Western Cinema ] ] Racial stereotypes have amounted to discrimination against Mexican Americans through much of the 20th century. [ [ Journal of San Diego History ] ] Caricaturism in the mass media (from the Mexican bandits in Westerns, street gangs, or advertising e.g. the Frito Bandito to illegal immigration) are deemed as attributes.

1840s to 1920s

After the United State's victory over Mexico in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), Mexico was forced to sign 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. However, the property rights of Mexicans were ignored by the United States government and local officials. Mexicans were systematically forced from lands which their families had held for generations in many cases. [ [ The Chicano Struggle and Proletarian Revolution in the U.S., Part 2: Mexican Independence from Spain, and the U.S.-Mexican War ] ] [ [ Chapter Thirteen ] ]

The lynching of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the Southwest has long been overlooked in American history. This may be because most historical records categorized Mexican, Chinese, and Native American lynching victims as white. [ The lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent in the United States, 1848 to 1928 | Journal of Social History | Find Articles at ] ] It is estimated 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). Mexicans were lynched at a rate of 27.4 per 100,000 of population between 1880 and 1930. This statistic is second only to that of the African American community during that period, which suffered an average of 37.1 per 100,000 population. [ [ The lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent in ] ] 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. [ The lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent in the United States, 1848 to 1928 | Journal of Social History | Find Articles at ] ] The majority of lynching victims were denied access to a trial while others were convicted unjustly.

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 threat and intimidated Mexican miners with violence. Between 1848 and 1860, at least 163 Mexicans were lynched in California alone. 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. [ [ Latinas: Area Studies Collections ] ]

The Texas Rangers were also known to brutally repress the Mexican-American population in Texas. Historians estimate that hundreds, perhaps even thousands of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were killed by the Texas Rangers. [ [ Lynching and Violence in America: Migrant Workers ] ]

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


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 encourage people to voluntarily move to Mexico, but thousands were deported against their will. More than 500,000 individuals were deported, approximately 60 percent of which were actually United States citizens. [ [ 1930s Mexican Deportation: Educator brings attention to historic period and its affect on her family ] ] [ Counseling Kevin: The Economy ] ] [ [ Mexican Repatriation in 1930s is Little Known Story ] ] [ [ Chapter Fifteen ] ] In the post-war McCarthy era, the Justice Department launched Operation Wetback.


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. [ press3b ] ] 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 White-Anglo 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. [ [ Zoot Suit Riots ] ] [ [ Chapter Sixteen ] ]

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 segrating children of "Mexican and Latin descent" 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. [ [ LatinoLA - Latino Hollywood - On Screen and Behind the Scenes ] ]


In many counties in the southwestern United States, Mexican Americans were not selected as jurors in court cases which involved a Mexican American defendant. [ [ Handbook of Texas Online - HERNANDEZ V. STATE OF TEXAS ] ] In 1954, Pete Hernandez, an agricultural worker, was indicted of murder by an all-Anglo 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 racial groups in the United States were entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. [h]

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. [ RACE - History - Post-War Economic Boom and Racial Discrimination ] ] [ [ JS Online: Filmmaker explores practice of redlining in documentary ] ] [,M1] In many other instances, it was more of a general social understanding among Anglos that Mexicans should be excluded. 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.


In modern times, organizations such as neo-nazis, white supremacist groups, American nationalist and nativist groups have all been known and continue to intimidate, harass and advocate the use of violence towards Mexican Americans. [ [ ABC News: New Immigrant Backlash: KKK Targets Mexicans ] ] [ [ Anti-Latino Violence ] ] [ [ 4 Are Held in Attack on Mexican Immigrants - New York Times ] ] [ [ News: Hispanics become targets of hatred in Ohio - ] ] [ [ SAN DIEGO: Vigilante thugs sentenced
in beating of elderly Mexican workers
] Racial slurs such as "wetback", "dogs" (as described by a member of the Houston Independent School District's Board of Trustees), or "bandido" are used to refer to illegal immigrants.

One of the most vicious cases occurred at the U.S.-Mexico border west of Douglas Arizona on August 18, 1976, when three campesinos were attacked crossing a ranch belonging to Douglas, Ariz. dairyman George Hanigan. The three were kidnapped, stripped, and hogtied; one had his feet burned. They were left for dead on the Sonoran desert floor but managed to return to Agua Prieta, Sonora, where they lodged formal complaints against George Hanigan and his two sons. The father died of a heart attack, and after three trials one of the Hanigan sons was convicted in federal court, and the other was found not guilty. [Miller, Tom. On the Border: Portraits of America’s Southwestern Frontier, p. 143-173.]

Pejorative terms such as "anchor baby" are frequently used by the conservative media to refer to US born Mexican American children whose parents entered the United States illegally. [ [ OC Blog: Gilchrist on KFI this Aft: Could Run ] ]

Other organizations seeking to apprehend immigrants that have crossed into the United States illegally have also been accused of discrimination. It has recently been reported that members of Neo-Nazi organizations have participated in demonstrations by the Minuteman Project and other anti-immigration organizations. [ [ Vigilantes Gather in Arizona ] ] [ [ Immigration protesters joined by neo-Nazis in California ] ] [ [ Open Season ] ] In 2006, it was revealed that Laine Lawless, former Minuteman Project member and founder of Border Guardians (an anti-Illigal immigration organization), sent emails to leaders of the National Socialist Movement (a neo-nazi organization) in which she encouraged violence against "illegals" and Spanish speaking individuals. [ [ Going Lawless ] ]

In 2006, "Time" magazine reported that the number of hate groups in the United States increased by 33 percent since 2000, primarily due to anti-illegal immigrant and anti-Mexican sentiment. [ [,9171,1198895,00.html How Immigration is Rousing the Zealots - TIME ] ]

According to FBI statistics, the number of anti-Latino hate crimes increased by 35 percent since 2003. In California, the state with the largest Mexican American population, the number of hate crimes against Latinos has almost doubled. [ [ Democracy Now! | FBI Statistics Show Anti-Latino Hate Crimes on the Rise ] ] []


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