Mexicans Didn’t Immigrate To America — We’ve Always Been Here

by Pedro Garza

I can trace my ancestry to La Grulla, a small community just west of McAllen, on the Texas side of the Rio Grande. My ancestors settled there in the 1830s — a decade before Texas became a state. They pre-date the ancestors of most current Texans.

Of course, when my family settled in La Grulla, it was part of Mexico. They became residents of the United States after the U.S. government was given their land — or stole it, depending on your point of view — in 1848.

My family settled in what is now the United States decades before President Trump’s ancestors arrived. In other words, we “Mexicans” did not immigrate to the United States. We lived on U.S. land before it was U.S. land. And we’re not going away.

The chanting of “Build that Wall” at Trump campaign rallies and in our schools was disappointing. Even more insulting was Trump’s accusation that Mexican immigrants are “criminals and rapists.”

But these are only the latest salvos in the U.S. government’s centuries-long track record of anti-Mexican sentiment.

A little history. In the early 1800s, with a passion for expansionism fueled by Manifest Destiny, the United States craved a passage to the Pacific Ocean — and by extension, the shipping routes to Asia.

But Mexico inconveniently stood in the way. So the United States invaded. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the two-year Mexican-American War in 1848 and ceded present-day Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming to the United States.

The United States realized its “destiny” and secured its pathway to the Pacific. But it also inherited the hundreds of thousands of Native Americans and millions of Mexicans who had long lived on that land.

It was an immigration problem of the U.S. government’s own making.

The U.S. Army responded to Native Americans with involuntary removals and reservations. From 1864 to 1866, nearly 10,000 Navajo and Apache people were forced to walk 450 miles to a camp in eastern New Mexico. The reservation didn’t have adequate shelter or food. Over 2,300 Navajo and Apache died before the Army allowed survivors to move back home.

Dealing with the much larger group of Mexicans — many of them landowners, office-holders, entrepreneurs, lawyers, bankers and members of the clergy — was more complex. The government couldn’t consign them to reservations.

Their customs, language, traditions, values, culture, food and communities all became part of who we are as a nation — whether the U.S. government liked it or not.

But the U.S. government still did its best to make its newest citizens foreigners in their own land and unwelcome in their own country. Congress passed the Homestead Act in 1862, allowing Americans to apply for Western land in exchange for farming on it — taking land that belonged to Mexicans.

Later, during the Great Depression, the United States deported almost 2 million Mexicans. More than half of them were U.S. citizens.

Despite this history of bigotry, discrimination and exclusion, we’re still here, contributing to American society and the economy. Latinos have $1.5 trillion in purchasing power. Latino-owned businesses were responsible for 86% of small business growth from 2007 to 2012. That means we created a whole lot of jobs, for Latinos and non-Latinos alike.

And there is no wall high enough or long enough to exclude us from this country’s future. By 2060, one in four Americans is projected to be Hispanic. We’re not confined to our ancestral home in the Great Southwest. The fastest-growing Latino communities are in North Dakota, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, South Dakota and Utah.

President Trump is seeking to close the stable door a century and a half after the horse has bolted. Mexicans are here — in our homeland — to stay. Nearly 33 million Latinos were born in this country.  We were here before many of our fellow citizens arrived. And a fence, a wall, a moat, or a river will serve only to keep us in, not out.

 

Pedro Garza served as a First Lieutenant during the Vietnam War and is now a retired federal government executive.

31 Comments

  1. Your ancestors were conquered in battle by the Texans and then the Americans. They lost 2 wars, nothing was “stolen” from them, they just got thier butts kicked. Read an actual history book.

  2. Sam Houston and Santa Anna were both of European Mason stock. That’s why when after the Battle of San Jacinto, General Sam decided to compromise with Santa Anna and divide the Hemisphere between the Anglo and Latin cultures at the Rio Grande River. Both cultures tended to clash religiously, politically, and also in many other ways. Hence, the diving line between Anglo and Latin America. Look at historical maps and how they were drawn, spelled, and described. Peoples throughout history have done nothing but decide themselves into groups where they feel the most comfort. This can be seen in neighborhoods and cities and countries and continents. Aggression has also occurred not only on this continent, but Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America as well. Any man can live wherever he wants throughout the world, as long as he follows the rules of the Nation in which he lives. Study the Bible, it will tell you. Render to the King that which is his, and to God which is Gods.

  3. Nothing but the pursuit of property by violence, chicanery powered by racism hate and discrimination that started with the salt wars in Texas. Why did Irish men fight alongside Mexicans? They had the same experience back home by the Great British who raped China, India and The Middle East.

  4. “After the Mexican–American War, Anglo Americans began migrating in large numbers to all of the newly acquired territory. Anglos began taking lands from both Native Americans and Hispanos by different means, most notably by squatting. Squatters often sold these lands to land speculators for huge profits, especially after the passing of the 1862 Homestead Act. Hispanos demanded that their lands be returned but governments did not respond favorably. For example, the Surveyor of General Claims Office in New Mexico would at times take up to fifty years to process a claim, meanwhile, the lands were being grabbed up by the newcomers.

    The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave the United States undisputed control of Texas, established the Rio Grande River as the United States-Mexican border, and ceded to the United States the present-day states of California, Nevada, Utah, parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Article VIII of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo guaranteed, “In the said territories, property of every kind, now belonging to Mexicans . . . shall be inviolably respected.” However, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was not self-executing, and Congress established different adjudication systems, by which Mexican landowners were required to demonstrate the legitimacy of their claims under Spanish and Mexican law to have their rights confirmed by the United States.

    In January 1912, New Mexico became an American state, and Anglophones eventually became the majority population. The state’s Hispanos became an economically disadvantaged population, becoming virtual second-class citizens compared to the Anglos. The Hispanos suffered discrimination from Anglophone Americans, who also questioned the loyalty of these new American citizens. The cultures of Hispanos and immigrant Anglophones eventually mixed to some degree, as was the case with immigrants in other parts of the United States.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanos_of_New_Mexico?wprov=sfla1

    Here is my decendents

    “The grant was not made to any town, but was made to Salvador Montoya, and his five associates, whoever they may have been.” Mr. Catron contended, “The government of the United States has no right to divest the title from Salvador Montoya and his heirs.” He concluded:

    It cannot be questioned that upon the face of the original muniments of title, the legal title to this grant vested in Salvador Montoya, ”

    https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/2633797/montoya-v-tecolote-land-grant/?

    Doesn’t look like conquered and sold to me. Looks like more like theft and lied about it throughout history.

  5. I am so disappointed that these truths were never taught in the State of Utah Schools where I and, my family and friends were educated. The truth will be difficult for many here to accept. 2060 here we come!

  6. I have herd this for long time it makes sense to me but i am glad this research is still going on.
    I know for fact that when enties or groups of people see the opportunity to cash in on situations they will do everything and anything to take over scare tatics and the like.

  7. Sir, President Trump is talking about immigrants who come to America illegally. You know, those who across the border without going through the proper channels. I’m really surprised that you didn’t know that.
    My grandparents immigrated to America from Portugal. But they stood in line, and follow the laws, they did it the right way.
    President Trump is referring to those who break the law and come into the country illegally. And we both know that there 1,000’s of those.

  8. So many Americans forget or refuse to acknowledge that there are more of us who did not immigrate here than those who did. We have a shameful history of cruelty to so many ethnicities and most of it propagated by so called christian white americans. Then God I grew up learning about and having faith in would be repulsed by them.

  9. No apologies for being the voice of reality here, Mr Garza’s argument is so much BS. For those of with white euro derangement syndrome. Rewind 400 yrs European Spaniards conquered the Aztec, Mayan, and many other indigenous people, so anyone claiming Hispanic decent and your ancestors are little more than a byproduct of this Europeans and the indigenous peoples. And if you really want to get technical just like blacks fought in the civil war against the South, Texicans like Seguin and DeZavala fought along side the Anglos for Texas independence, long story short the Mexican army got their asses handed to them and sent across the river, so to the victors go the spoils. And now Mexico is third world shit hole who’s chief exports are drugs and cheap unskilled labor, so for those of you who think this is not the greatest country in the world, pack your shit and leave. Just saying

  10. This is 2020 not 1830.. coming in illegally is a crime.. Trump is not saying immigrants can’t be here,he says immigrants need to come here legally…and why are you just say Trump? What about killary,nobama,bill clinton,george Bush jr and sr. They all said the same thing about immigration…your a sucker if you feed into this libtard.

  11. Fact! In the future white people will be a minority in this great country of ours, you may not like but it is the truth, may hurt but an other fact, white people are not having enough kids, but do not worry, the brown race will have the kids! I know this hurts but look it up. fACTS!

  12. Well, not always. Europeans’ contact with California began in the mid 1530s when Cortez’s men ventured to Baja California. Not until 1542 did Spaniards sail north to Alta California, and Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s expedition that year made landings as far north as modern Santa Barbara. The Spaniards named most of the towns in CA, until today all major cities have Spanish names, except Oakland. They were in CA until the 1820s. Mexico was “in control” for 25 years”, then the 49ers came.

  13. Follow the law. It is simple. If you do not go through proper channels to become a citizen then you are breaking the law. How difficult is this to understand. It is not about being racist towards Hispanics. It is about dealing with individuals are illegally in the country. That means the law is being broken. Follow the law!

  14. My ancestors were Mexican, fought in those wars, and were “given” land for their efforts. They lived in the Southern Texas area since the 1830s as well, near what is now Zapata.
    I do find irony in that the author is a retired “FEDERAL Government “ employee

  15. Thanks for the history lesson now I understand when done say they did not cross the border the border crossed them dumb ass trump dies not know this jiyvyhst nanbud do stupid pendejo mitherfuckers still in office I wish he had a massive heart attack or stroke as long it makes him in bable to govern go to he’ll trump.!!!!!!;

  16. I was having a conversation with my mother about this topic shes European and my father mexican i asked her who started the law about standing in line to come to united states legally she said her ancestors did they stole the land an made the law up so i asked was her ancestors born here she said no we came on a ships.Then who gave them the right to make this law up so i said you guys bullied the native americans and mexicans she yes pretty much Europeans dont like this topic because the truth hurts

  17. Remember this is not “America” is “United States of America” or U.S.A,Because América start from Alaska to south América to”La Patagonia:some People don’t know Geografy….

  18. My maternal grandparents were forced out of their land by trickery from the Austin / San Marcos áreas by the Texas rangers. I demand back what land belonged to them by modern law. Can this be done?

  19. yeah, that’s a bit of a conveniently incomplete history. the native americans were here 1st, conquered by the spanish. mexico only “owned” this land from the 1820-40s, conquered by after that…

  20. Mexicans never would have left Mexico . Mexico had no explorers.Spain brought the Mexicans to the U.S for labor, remember the Spaniards looks down at the Mexicans.Mexico government brought whites to Texas because Mexicans were afraid of the indians

  21. I’ll tell you what you’re missing about this so long orientation you gave. I do not doubt there were many Mexicans living in this country before it was United States because we know that was part of Mexico. Basically my great grandfather which was Mexican was purchased from the Mexican government with the Mexican president signed over the gas than Purchased which is Arizona. It is no longer part of Mexico, therefore there are no Latinos living here, because Latinos means that you were from Latin America, and This is North America not Latin America. So When we’re talking about building a wall to keep from being invaded from Central and South America we were talking about what is going on today and the people that we want to keep out today, not necessarily restricted to Latin speaking people all kinds of people come over our borders we want to stop it before we are overpopulated and our quality of living declines because the job market is oversaturated of people who know longer afford to support our families. As a country we still have a right to protect our borders and restrict Immigration to the level so we can handle, and also require the Immigrants to pick bring something to the table instead of coming to sponge on our social system. So get real, we know history. And oh by the way one of my ancestors was rented the Robertson land grant to help establish colonies in Texas long before the Mexican American war. Primarily what caused the Mexican American war was after Mexico gained it’s independence from Spain, they tried to change the rules on all the inhabitants it was settling in Texas and populate it there for the Texican’s with the war to fight for the rights. Go cry in somebody else’s bucket. By the way if you are you a citizen I do not want to be a Mexican citizen you should learn white flag you should be flying. If you want to fly to Mexican flag and be a Mexican citizen are you ass across the border.

  22. Mexico did not come in to being until 1824 ? The Novus Casagranda Indians migrated south to where Mexico City is now in the 1500s . All of North America and Central America and South America at that time was Native American, or if you will Indians. Over the next 300 years the Indians were inner bread with Spanish German French Chinese and probably a host of other ethnic groups. Before Spain ceded to Mexico the Indians made up Mexico, my white ancestor was granted robertson land grant that stretch from Dallas to Austin Texas. His responsibility was to create colonies in order to colonize Texas and bring settlers Before the Mexican American war this all happened. It was only because Mexico tried to change the rules of colonization after Spain ceded the land to Mexico that the problem started. As a result the Texas settlers rebelled against Mexico because they were trying to take their property or insist that you had to be married to a Catholic citizen in order to hold land. That is what started the whole shit pot mess. So you see it was not Mexicans that settled the land of California Arizona New Mexico And parts of Colorado it was native American Indians.
    Get your history straight.

  23. If you know this about history then why do you refer to yourself as a Mexican? You say
    You know where the International Border is – whether you agree with it or not – if you were born on this side then you are AMERICAN by birth! Your heritage may be Mexican, depending where your parents were born, but you are NOT Mexican if you were born within this country’s borders. If so, quit lying to yourself and others about what and who you are. Make sure you look at my last name! It is CISCO

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