Following the concept of ‘Manifest Destiny’ the United States forced a defeated Mexico to cede to them the territories of the present days states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas along with parts of present day Colorado, Nevada and Utah. The signing of the treaty brought instantly made than 50,000 citizens of Mexico, citizens of the United States. With the signing of the treaty these people were instantly converted from being members of the majority community of Mexico to being members of a despised minority of the United States (Gutiérrez, 1995).
The new Americans had to face a lot of discrimination from the English speaking Majority. Especially in Texas, which was a slave owning state, Mexicans being darker of skin were denied full rights and were considered to be somewhere in between African Americans and White Europeans in status (Gutierrez 1995). As Mexican populations grew, they were placed under progressively more and more severe restrictions, the systematic legal and social subjugation of Mexicans turned them from land owning farmers to landless peasants, a source of cheap labor for white farmers. (Gutierrez 1995).
The degree of to which hostility against Mexican Americans had risen can be seen from the 1911 report of the Immigration Commission of the US Congress which comments on Mexican Americans in a most openly racist manner:
“The Mexican laborers, on the other hand, are notoriously indolent and unprogressive in all matters of education and culture, and evince little desire to learn to speak
English” (U.S. Commission on Immigration, 1911).
“The fact that only 5.3 per cent of the Mexicans read and write English is due to their consistent lack of ambition in matters of culture” (U.S. Commission on Immigration, 1911).
“In the second place, only the more recent immigrants and the lowest grade of non assimilable native-born races, like the Mexicans of the American Southwest, are employed” (U.S. Commission on Immigration, 1911).
“To sum up, the Mexican is a fairly honest, efficient worker, whose usefulness is, however, much impaired by his lack of ambition and his proneness to the constant use of intoxicating liquor” (U.S. Commission on Immigration, 1911).
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