Que se queden allá: El gobierno de México y la repatriación de mexicanos en Estados Unidos (1934-1940)
Fernando Saúl Alanís Enciso, Tijuana, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte/El Colegio de San Luis, 2007 David Fitzgerald University of California, San Diego
Alanís Enciso has written the deﬁnitive account of one of the most fascinating and understudied episodes in theMexican Government’s evolving stance towards emigration and its citizens living in the United States. Previous histories have sketched the broad outline of Mexican repatriation policy during the Great Depression in the United States. An estimated 400 000 Mexicans, including many US citizens of Mexican descent, were repatriated from 1929 through the end of the 1930s. Scrutinizing repatriation policythrough his historical microscope, the author ﬁnds considerable variation over the course of the decade. This book extends existing accounts by mining the archival papers of the Lázaro Cárdenas administration and the US Immigration and Naturalization Service to put the repatriations into the broader context of Mexican demographic and foreign policy; differentiate among the various strains ofrepatriation policy; and provide the most detailed history yet of its most ambitious effort at returnee agricultural colonization. Some of the micro distinctions the author makes to separate this work from other repatriation histories published in Spanish and English may not engage general readers, but where the book breaks fundamental new ground is in its detailed discussion of the relationship betweenMexican immigration and emigration policy. He argues that the most ambitious repatriation efforts of the Cárdenas administration were designed in large part to inoculate the government from the charge that it was showing too much favor to Spanish refugees in the
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late 1930s. Opening the doors to more Spaniards, whenthe gachupines had remained the target of retribution for their disproportionate inﬂuence over Mexican commerce long after Independence, threatened to provoke nationalist antipathy, particularly at a time of economic crisis. One of the “antirrefugiado” arguments was that resources should be directed toward México’s own in the United States rather than Spaniards. Cárdenas thus extended his handﬁrst to Mexicans in the North as a kind of political prophylaxis. For both Cárdenas and his opponents, repatriation policy was mostly symbolic politics intended to advance unrelated goals. Cárdenas’ repatriation plans were not novel. Since the Porﬁriato, repatriation had been a longstanding policy of the Mexican Government, with sporadic efforts to execute the policy only when driven by push factorsemanating from the United States. The book elaborates the ambivalence with which Mexican political elites viewed return migration when it became imminent. On the one hand, experts like Manuel Gamio argued that returnees would be engines of modernization who would help develop the Mexican economy and elevate its civiliza-
tion through the introduction of ideas and practices learned in the UnitedStates. This developmentalist dream was balanced by fears that returnees would contaminate México with foreign political ideas. The notion of a foreign political menace can be broken down into two parts: ﬁrst, a traitorous dissimilation away from identiﬁcation with México toward identiﬁcation with the United States; and second, the adoption of increased expectations of democratic governance andhigher levels of state services. Within México, different views of the desirability of emigration and return migration emerged along the lines of geography, level of government, speciﬁc agency, and relationship to the ruling regime. The author takes a critical distance from the romanticized notion that the Cárdenas administration called México’s children abroad home, emphasizing that repatriation...