Mexican Americans in the 1930s



Use the background information, your knowledge of history, and the document to answer the questions that follow.

Background Information: The passage below is from a letter the California Joint Immigration Committee (formerly named the Japanese Exclusion League of California) sent to the House Immigration Committee of the United States Congress.


Author: V.S. McClatchy
Date: March 5, 1930

Source text: 

The problem of unemployment could be much more readily and effectively solved if there were eliminated . . . the 150,000 added each year to our unemployed by illegal entry or illegal stay.

At present there are coming into the country each year, legally and illegally, apparently not less than 60,000 or 70,000 Mexican Indians, who are ineligible to American citizenship and constitute . . . the least assimilable and the least intelligent of all the foreign groups that seek or have sought residence in this country.

Question 1: How is the message of this letter connected to the Great Depression?

Question 2: How is the message of this letter connected to Mexican Repatriation?

About the Assessment

Like Connections to the Philippine-American War, this assessment gauges students' knowledge of the past. Rather than measure whether students can simply recall decontextualized facts, this assessment requires students to make connections across time and construct an argument about how events are connected. Students with a strong sense of the past will be able to explain that the Great Depression intensified anti-immigrant and scapegoating like that included in this letter or that McClatchy wrote to Congress about how to solve the “problem of unemployment” because the unemployment rate was very high during the Great Depression.  Strong students will also be able to connect the xenophobia and racism against Mexicans conveyed in the letter with Mexican Repatriation.