College Critical Thinking 103
15 February 2013
Immigration Then & Now; an Unchanged Pattern
Since the inception of immigration policies, The United States has fostered upon itself a variety of deviations from the results it subtly desires. If there is one thing that has been certain throughout the decades, it would be that at anytime the economy is operating at satisfactory levels, the issue of immigration fades away and is avoided as much as possible. However, soon after problems such as recession, wars, or unemployment arise, the topic spawns again and becomes more controversial the longer its duration. The most prominent detail about these policies is that the United States favors immigration when workers are needed, but as soon as conditions are back to normal, it opposes it once again.
The powerful enforcement of immigration laws during times of tranquility suggests that the need for immigrant workers is conditional and only accepted at times when labor is at a low supply. It can be noted by Mexican migration patterns that those of Latin descent go north of their home land in order to find work so that they can provide financial support for not only themselves, but mostly for their families. Looking back at the year 1942 when the world was in the middle of an intense war and the Unites States had just recently joined after the events at Pearl Harbor, we can notice the initiation of a program that would take regulatory control of immigration out of America’s hands. This program known as no other than the Bracero Program, was a series of laws and diplomatic agreements between the neighboring countries of the United States and Mexico that was intended to have temporary importation of Mexican contract laborers sent to America. However, the Mexican government, under the administration of Manuel Ávila Camacho, was reluctant to sign an agreement without making a few arrangements first. This skepticism was completely justified as the Mexican government was aware of the previous mistreatment its workers had received at the start of the 20th century. After the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Gentleman’s Agreement of 1907, cheap laborers from China and Japan became scarce and American employers did not find this to be accommodating to their production needs. In order to bring back cheap labor, agents known as Enganchadores (Hookers) set off on expeditions to the most heavily populated Mexican cities to convince laborers to go north and provide their services there. Promises of good wages and riches were made in vain, and the laborers did not discover this until they had already settled in America. The nickname for these agents suited them perfectly since the end result for Mexican laborers was one equivalent to being “hooked”. Why was labor so desperately needed though? This event was indeed going on during the time of rapid U.S. development and also right before the start of the First World War, so domestic worker supply was already at full capacity but was still not enough to meet the needs of a country whose number one goal was to triumph above all. This was the exact same case when the Chinese were brought in to build the Transcontinental Railroad when it was needed, but banned when the gold from the Gold Rush started becoming scarcer. Even right before the start of the program, during the times of the Great Depression, many Mexican workers were deported; another indicator that when the show is running smoothly, immigrants are tolerated, but as soon as bad times hit, action to get rid of them are executed. With the onset of a Second World War being imminent, and the previous deportation of Hispanics during the depression, workers to ensure a victory in the war became a necessity. Under these conditions, proper treatment of foreign workers seemed somewhat possible, but that was not the case. With the history of these events at the forefront of the Mexican...
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