“The debate turned on both economic and racial convictions” (De Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas)

The debate turned on both economic and racial convictions. The antirestrictionists advanced the economic argument that U.S. agriculture [69] could not survive if government interrupted immigration. Growers maintained that immigrants worked hard and did not demand the high wages wanted by Anglos. Antirestrictionists also tried to assure those fearing social ruination that the “Mexican Problem” was manageable. They conceded that Mexicans were a degenerate people and posed some moral and political dangers to the country, but that Mexicans were, all in all, docile and law-abiding, and insisted that their presence could be controlled by restricting their employment opportunities to the fields, where they would not jeopardize the fabric of white society.[10]

Small-scale farmers and Anglo field hands, conversely, challenged the notion of free admittance into the country, for immigrants were willing to work for less, keeping American cotton pickers from making “honest” wages. Labor unions also sought to arrest easy entry into the country, fearing that Mexican immigrants might, once across the border, reject farm work and seek employment in industrial capacities. A cast of politicians, educators, concerned citizens, and racists further argued that racially backward Mexicans disrupted the American way of life and caused disease, crime, and other problems.[11]

By the end of the 1920s, the restrictionists triumphed over the antirestrictionists as the United States government directed consuls to exercise greater controls in granting passports to Mexicans. Though the number of entrance visas granted to Mexicans fell after 1929, by then the depression had begun to hamper immigration northward from Mexico.[12]

Arnoldo de Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas: A Brief History, 2nd ed. Wheeling, Illinois: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1993/1999. 68-69.

  1. [10]Ibid. [Montejano], pp. 183, 188.
  2. [11]Ibid., pp. 183, 189, 179, 190; Neil Foley, The White Scourge […] pp. 52-55
  3. [12]Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, pp. 182, 190; Corwin, Immigrants–and Immigrants, p. 146.

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