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A Professor Condemns Mexican Immigration

Mexican immigration to the United States increased dramatically during the decade of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20). Some in the U.S. welcomed the newcomers, while others worried about the effects they would have on American society. This 1912 article by a Stanford University professor, published in one of the leading journals of the day, illustrates the negative stereotypes some of the best-educated Americans held about Mexican immigrants.

Socially and politically the presence of large numbers of Mexicans in this country gives rise to serious problems. The reports of the Immigration Commission show that they lack ambition, are to a very large extent illiterate in their native language, are slow to learn English, and in most cases show no political interest. In some instances, however, they have been organized to serve the purposes of political bosses as for example in Phoenix, Arizona. Although more of them are married and have their families with them than is the case among the south European immigrants, they are unsettled as a class, move readily from place to place, and do not acquire or lease land to any extent. But their most unfavorable characteristic is their inclination to form colonies and live in a clannish manner. Wherever a considerable group of Mexicans are employed, they live together, if possible, and associate very little with members of other races. In the mining towns and other small industrial communities they live ordinarily in rude adobe huts outside of the town limits. As section hands they of course live as the members of other races have done, in freight cars fitted with windows and bunks, or in rough shacks along the line of the railroad. In the cities their colonization has become a menace. The unwholesome conditions of the Mexican quarter in El Paso, Tex., have been described with photographic illustration in previous articles in The Survey. In Los Angeles the housing problem centers largely in the cleaning up or demolition of the Mexican "house courts," which have become the breeding ground of disease and crime, and which have now attracted a considerable population of immigrants of other races.

Source | Samuel Bryan, "Mexican Immigrants in the United States," The Survey 28, no. 23 (September 1912).
Creator | Samuel Bryan
Item Type | Article/Essay
Cite This document | Samuel Bryan, “A Professor Condemns Mexican Immigration,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 28, 2023,

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