Press Releases

Rep. Roybal-Allard Reintroduces Her Bill to Investigate 1930s Mexican Repatriation

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Washington, March 10, 2017 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) has reintroduced her bill to establish the first-ever official commission to study the Mexican Repatriation of the 1930s, and recommend appropriate legislative remedies.  In the 1930s, government authorities and private sector entities undertook an aggressive program to forcibly remove individuals of Mexican ancestry from the United States, including as many as 1.2 million U.S. citizens.  The Congresswoman first introduced this legislation in 2016, as H.R. 6314, but it was not considered by the House of Representatives before the 114th Congress ended.  The newly reintroduced bill is H.R. 1412.  

“For many Mexican-Americans, and for countless other groups of Americans, the past weeks and months have been a time of heightened fear and uncertainty,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard.  “The Mexican Repatriation reminds us that the U.S. government has taken harsh and destructive action in the past against a large population of Americans, based simply on who they are.  If we want to ensure that such cruelty is never repeated, we must have a full investigation into this terrible time.  As the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress, I am honored to re-introduce this groundbreaking bill so that we may learn from our nation's tragic past and build a future rooted in love and tolerance, not in fear and hate.”

During the Mexican Repatriation, men, women, and children of Mexican ancestry were removed from the U.S. in response to public pressure to curtail the employment of Mexican-Americans during the Great Depression.  Massive raids were conducted on Mexican-American communities, targeting individuals of Mexican ancestry even when they were U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents.  The raids also separated these U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents from their families, and deprived them of their livelihoods and constitutional rights.  Many of the people who were removed were never able to return to the United States, the country of their birth.

The commission will consist of seven members, three appointed by the President of the United States, two by the Speaker of the House (in consultation with the House Minority Leader), and two by the President pro tempore of the Senate (in consultation with the Senate Minority Leader).  The commission members will review the facts and circumstances surrounding the Repatriation removals, and the impact of these removals on these individuals, their families, and the United States’ Mexican-American community.  It will also review past directives of federal, state, and local governments that required the removal of these individuals to Mexico, and any other information related to these directives.  Finally, the commission will submit to Congress a written report of its findings and recommendations.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard’s bill builds upon the hard work of advocates from across the country, including the students in Leslie Hiatt’s fifth-grade class at Bell Gardens Elementary.  These students successfully pushed for a California law requiring that the Mexican Repatriation be taught in schools, and are now urging a federal apology for the Repatriation.

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