Mexican Immigration in the 1920s

Historical content: 
World War I and the 1920s
Historical skills: 
Contextualization, Sourcing, Use of evidence



Use the sources below and your knowledge of history to answer each of the questions that follow.

El Paso Herald editorial, published April 28, 1920.
Testimony of Roy Miller at the hearings on the Temporary Admission of Illiterate Mexican Laborers before the U.S. House of Representatives on January 26, 1920.
Source text: 

Document A:  The following is from an editorial article that appeared in the El Paso Herald on April 28, 1920.


If Congress understands the difference between industrial conditions along the border and those of northern and eastern centers, that body will not give serious consideration to the protest just filed by the American Federation of Labor against the admission to the United States of Mexican labor. . . . It is bad enough to have our industries halted by constant strikes. It would be vastly worse to have our food and fiber production delayed or actually prevented by any groups of men with selfish interests foremost.

Document B: The following is from testimony delivered by Roy Miller, a representative of the Rural Land Owners’ Association and the Texas Cattle Raisers’ Association, at the Temporary Admission of Illiterate Mexican Laborers Congressional Hearings before the House of Representatives Committee on Immigration and Naturalization on January 26, 1920.

ROY MILLER: Down in my part of the State we have experienced in the past few years a remarkable development. This Mexican labor has not only harvested our crops, but it has grubbed our lands, thereby enabling the lands to be put into production. We are all of the opinion that unless we can get this labor in the future as we have in the past, this development will be stopped and that present production will be curtailed more than 50 percent. . . . This is a very serious situation. It affects not only Texas, but this entire country of ours. . . . We are asking you to give us nothing more than what we have had through all the years of the past, to enable us to take care of a great productive need which, without the Mexicans, will not be filled at all.

ALBERT JOHNSON [congressman from Washington]: You want the Mexican to come and become a citizen?

ROY MILLER: I should say so, in certain instances. We have very good Mexican citizens.

Question 1: Some Americans opposed Mexican immigration in the 1920s. How does Document A provide evidence that some Americans opposed Mexican immigration?

Question 2: How does Document B also provide evidence that some Americans opposed Mexican immigration?

About the Assessment

Like Opposition to the Philippine-American War, this assessment gauges students’ ability to reason about how evidence supports a historical argument. Students must explain how a newspaper editorial in the El Paso Herald and the congressional testimony of a Texas farmer both support the conclusion that some Americans opposed Mexican immigration in the 1920s.