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Its origins in the United States date back to the Mexican and American independence wars, and the struggle over the disputed Southwestern territories that once belonged to Spain through the establishment of Catholic missions. This eventually would lead to the 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.
1840s to 1890s
As the result of the Texas Revolution and Texas annexation, the United States inherited the Republic of Texas's border disputes with Mexico, which led to the eruption of the Mexican–American War (1846–48). After the United States' victory over Mexico, Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty required that Mexico cede more than half its land to the United States in exchange for 15 million dollars, but also guaranteed that Mexican citizens living in ceded lands would retain full property rights and would be granted United States citizenship if they remained in the ceded lands for at least one year. This treaty and others led to the establishment in 1889 of the International Boundary and Water Commission, which was tasked with maintenance of the border, allocation of river waters between the two nations, and provision for flood control and water sanitation.
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 the United States' most comprehensive lynching records, categorized Mexican, Chinese, and Native American lynching victims as white. 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. The actual number of Mexicans lynched is unknown. William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb estimate that between 1848 and 1928 at least 597 Mexicans were lynched, of which 64 were lynched in areas which lacked a formal judicial system.
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. 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 man who had attempted to assault her after breaking into her home.
1900s to 1920s
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.
In 1911, a mob of over 100 people hanged a 14-year-old boy, Antonio Gómez, after he was arrested for murder. Rather than let him serve time in jail, townspeople lynched him and dragged his body through the streets of Thorndale, Texas.
Between 1910 and 1919, Texas Rangers were responsible for the deaths of hundreds to thousands of ethnic Mexicans in South Texas. The violence continued through the Porvenir Massacre on January 28, 1918, when Texas Rangers summarily executed fifteen Mexicans in Presidio County, Texas. This caused State Representative José Canales to head an investigation into systematic violence against Mexicans by the Texas Rangers, largely ending the pattern of violence and leading to the dismissal of five rangers involved in the massacre.
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 these were United States citizens. In 1936, Colorado even ordered all of its "Mexicans"—in reality, anyone who spoke Spanish or seemed to be of Latin descent—to leave the state and blockaded its southern border to keep people from leaving. Though no formal decree was ever issued by immigration authorities, Immigration and Naturalization Service officials deported.
Both the state of California and the city of Los Angeles apologized for repatriation in the early 2000s.
According to the National World War II Museum, between 250,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served in the United States 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. In 1948, war veteran Dr Hector P. Garcia founded the American GI Forum (AGIF) 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 suiter 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, 1943, during which 5,000 servicemen and residents 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.[failed verification]
In Orange County, California, Mexican American school children were subject to racial segregation in the public school system and forced to attend "Mexican schools". In 1947, the Mendez v. Westminster ruling declared that segregating children of "Mexican and Latin descent" in state-operated public schools in Orange County 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.[better source needed]
In many counties in the southwestern United States, Mexican Americans were not selected as jurors in court cases which involved a Mexican American defendant. 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.
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.
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 dairyman George Hanigan. The three were kidnapped, stripped, hogtied, and had their feet burned before being cut loose and told to run back to Mexico. As they ran, the Hanigans shot birdshot into their backs. They made it to Agua Prieta, Sonora, where the Mexican police notified the Mexican consul, who lodged formal complaints against George Hanigan and his two sons. The elder Hanigan died of a heart attack; after three trials, one of the Hanigan sons was convicted in federal court and sentenced to three years, and the other was found not guilty.
In 1994, California state voters approved Proposition 187 by a wide majority. The initiative made illegal immigrants ineligible for public health (except for emergencies), public social services, and public education; it required public agencies to report anyone they believed to be illegal to either the INS or the California attorney general; and it made it a felony to print, sell, or use false citizenship documents. Many Mexican Americans opposed such measures as reminiscent of pre-civil-rights-era ethnic discrimination and 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 law was eventually declared unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
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.
As of July 2013, 34.6 million Americans, or 10.9% of the United States' population, identify themselves as being of full or partial Mexican ancestry; comprising 64.1% of all Hispanics and Latinos in the United States. The United States is home to the second largest Mexican community in the world, second only to Mexico itself, comprising over 24% of the entire Mexican-origin population of the world (Canada is a distant third with a small Mexican Canadian population of 96,055 or 0.3% of the population as of 2011). In addition, as of 2008 there were approximately 7,000,000 illegal Mexicans living in the United States. In 2012, the United States admitted 145,326 Mexican immigrants and 1,323,978 Mexicans were waiting for a slot to open up so they could emigrate to the United States. A 2014 survey indicated that 34% of all Mexicans would immigrate to the United States if they were able.
Some private citizen groups have been established to apprehend immigrants that have crossed into the United States illegally. These groups, like the Minuteman Project and other anti-immigration organizations, have been accused of discrimination because of their aggressive and sometimes illegal tactics.
As Mexicans make up the majority of Latinos in the United States, when the non-Latino population is asked to comment on their perception of Latinos, they tend to think of stereotypes of Mexicans fueled by the media, which focuses on illegal immigration. Per a 2012 survey conducted by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, one-third of non-Hispanic Americans (Whites, Blacks, and Asians) falsely believe that half or more of the nation's Hispanics are "illegal immigrants with large families and little education". The report has been criticized on the grounds that it makes the same mistake that the media makes in aggregating all Latinos into a single group, thereby missing both the diversity of the situations the different groups are in and the varying perceptions of those groups by the non-Latino population.
Relationships between Mexican Americans and the Black community have been tense at times, as migrants from Mexico often arrive in the United States with extant, racist sentiments regarding Blacks. In Mexico, Afro-Mexicans (who make up 1% of the population) report that they are regularly racially harassed by the local and state police. Mexican phrases abound that attribute negativity to the word Black – such as "getting black" (meaning getting angry), the use of negro to mean "ugly", a "supper of blacks" or cena de negros (meaning a group of people gathering together to cause trouble) el negrito en el arroz (translated as "the black in the rice", meaning an unpleasant dark skin tone), and trabajar como negro (translated as "work like black", meaning to work like a slave). The origin of the tension has also been attributed to competition for blue-collar jobs, cultural disputes in changing neighborhoods, and resentment by Blacks that Latinos have benefited from their efforts during the civil rights movement. The Mexican Mafia has striven to drive out Black residents from prestigious Black neighborhoods through racial intimidation, threats, and violence.
American president Donald Trump expressed his fear of rising illegal Mexican immigration throughout his 2015-2016 campaign, referring to Mexican immigrants as criminals, rapists, and drug smugglers/dealers. He also has expressed displeasure over how the Mexican government has handled illegal immigration and drug smuggling into the United States over the Mexico-United States border. Various sources have accused Trump of anti-Mexican hate speech and claimed that his "hateful rhetoric" has incited anti-Mexican sentiment and xenophobia.
From 2003 to 2007 in California, the state with the largest Mexican and Mexican American population, the number of hate crimes against Mexicans almost doubled. The anti-Mexican feelings can also be directed against other Latino American nationalities in the US, even though anti-Mexican sentiment exists in some Caribbean and Latino groups.
On August 3, 2019, a man drove 10 hours from Allen, Texas, to El Paso, Texas, to kill people of Mexican descent, Hispanics, and immigrants. He posted a xenophobic, anti-Hispanic manifesto on Reddit prior to the shooting which killed 22 people and injured 24 others. The 2019 El Paso shooting was labeled a domestic terrorist attack, and a hate crime.
In July 2008, Luis Ramirez, a Mexican illegal 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. Luis' White, non-Hispanic fianceé 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." 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. 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 attacks that year motivated by anti-Hispanic bias in the Staten Island neighborhood of Port Richmond, Staten Island. Port Richmond is a predominantly African-American neighborhood that has seen a large influx of Mexican immigrants. Rolston Hopson, William Marcano and Tyrone Goodman, all age 17, were charged in the assault.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the United States Border Patrol have been frequently criticized for alleged anti-Mexican speech and actions. In July 2019, more than 60 border patrol agents were investigated over their participation in a Facebook page that mocked Mexicans and immigrants as well as minority lawmakers. In modern times, organizations including neo-Nazi, white supremacist, American nationalist, and nativist groups have all been known to intimidate, harass and advocate the use of violence against Mexican Americans.
A domestic terrorist attack/mass shooting occurred on August 3, 2019, at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, resulting in 22 people dead and 24 injured, almost all of whom were Hispanic Americans and/or Mexicans. The suspect, Patrick Crusius, told El Paso police he was trying to kill as many Mexicans as possible. In a manifesto titled The Inconvenient Truth, published on 8chan just before the attacks, Crusius cited several white nationalist beliefs such as a supposed "Hispanic invasion of Texas", The Great Replacement conspiracy theory and "simply trying to defend my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion" (White genocide conspiracy theory) as well "the degradation of the environment", contempt towards corporations, and fears about automation. Crusius said he was inspired in part by the Christchurch mosque shootings at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand.
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