Make Room for the “Americans” The Role of Race and Ethnicity in Mexican Repatriation

Main Article Content

William Crimmins


In 2011, Esteban Torres remembered: “At about that time, as you will recall in history, the repatriation of Mexicans came about and one day they came to the mine and rounded up all the Mexican miners, and they shipped my dad back to Mexico. That was in 1933. I was three years old. My brother [Hugo Torres] was two years old, and I never saw my father again. Never saw him again.”1 Esteban Torres was a natural-born U.S. citizen. His father worked in the local mine in Miami, Arizona where the whole Torres family lived. Esteban’s mother and brother were also U.S. citizens. This experience was by no means unique to the Torres family. Mr. Torres refers to the “repatriation of Mexicans” that saw the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Mexican Americans through formal processes of deportation, repatriation, and expatriation from the United States in the 1930s. I make a semantic distinction between these three processes of removal because repatriation, the term used most often to describe this period, refers to the return to one’s homeland. Expatriation, on the other hand, refers to a departure from one’s homeland, and deportation is distinguished as a legal process of expulsion. All three of these removal processes took place during the period known as Mexican repatriation.

Article Details