Mexican Deportations from Los Angeles in 1931
Mexican immigration surged in the early 20th century, spurred by violence from the Mexican Revolution and prosperity in the United States. Official census numbers count a tripling in the U.S. population from 200,000 Mexican immigrants in 1910 to 600,000 in 1930, but given the long and porous border between the two countries, the actual number was probably far larger. Many demographers and historians conclude that roughly 10 percent of Mexico’s population resided in the United States by 1930. The densest concentration of Mexican immigrants was in Los Angeles County, where 167,024 were counted in the census that year. As the Great Depression set in in the early 1930s and unemployment rose, the U.S. government sought to open jobs for its citizens by removing Mexican immigrants. Acting at both the federal and state levels, the government removed immigrants through deportation and repatriation. The latter term euphemistically implied that repatriates left voluntarily but often were motivated by pressure from threats and media campaigns to scare off immigrants. Repatriation could be informal, and conservative estimates put the number of repatriates in the Great Depression decade at one million, many of whom had lived in the United States for years but had never formalized their residency because they lacked access to or understanding of the legal requirements. By the United States Immigration and Naturalization Services’ own statistics, Mexicans constituted 46.3% of those deported from 1930 to 1939 despite comprising less than one percent of the population.
 Francisco E. Balderrama & Raymond Rodriguez, Decade of Betrayal 7 (1st ed. 1995)  Id.  Abraham Hoffman, Unwanted Mexican Americans During the Great Depression 207 (1973)  Balderrama et al., supra, at 21-2  Id., 53