The early 20th Century saw a number of push and pull factors that encouraged many Mexicans to immigrate to the United States. One of these was new economic opportunities in the American Southwest. New corporate-sponsored agricultural ventures and mining operations opened up as early as the 1890s and were in...
The early 20th Century saw a number of push and pull factors that encouraged many Mexicans to immigrate to the United States. One of these was new economic opportunities in the American Southwest. New corporate-sponsored agricultural ventures and mining operations opened up as early as the 1890s and were in full swing by the turn of the century. Due to various reasons, Mexico at this time was experiencing unemployment and stagnating wages, particularly in rural areas. Much of this was the result of ill-conceived economic reforms under the administration of Porfirio Diaz. The prospect of easy and relatively lucrative employment just over the border encouraged many to leave for the United States.
The Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 was also a major event that resulted in more Mexicans leaving for the United States. This was an extremely turbulent and dangerous time in Mexico. Many were being forced to take up arms for one side or another. Consequently, tens of thousands of refugees and political exiles came to the United States during this period in search of safety and stability. A similar set of circumstances occurred during the Cristero War of 1926-1929. During this conflict, thousands of Mexican Catholics went to war against the Mexican government in response to a recent series of anti-Catholic reforms. Thousands of Mexicans fled this conflict for safety north of the border.
Finally, the United States encouraged Mexican immigration during this period in a number of ways. It should be remembered that this was also a time of massive waves of immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe as well as from East Asia. Many US politicians were growing increasingly concerned that they were getting too many immigrants from places they considered undesirable. There was a fear that too many of these new immigrants would damage the cultural fabric of the country. As a result of these perceptions, a quota system was established in 1924. However, Mexicans (as well as people from the rest of the Americas) were exempt from these quotas. At the time, there were fewer negative attitudes against Mexican immigrants because they were viewed as being hard-working, obedient, and temporary. Therefore, US policy encouraged Mexican immigration at this time while it was excluding other potential immigrants.