Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Mexican Immigration to the United States, 1897-193. By Lawrence A.
Cardoso. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1980. Pp. 192.
Preface, acknowledgments, notes, bibliographic essay, index.
$19.50, cloth; $8.95, paper.)
In recent years, Mexican immigration to the United States has be-
come a popular topic on both sides of the Rio Grande. The politics of
Mexican migration grow ever more complicated with the new Ameri-
can postures on conservation, population growth, and economic expan-
sion. Lawrence A. Cardoso's book is a welcome study in the field of im-
migration history and U.S.-Mexican relations, for it examines both the
massive migration of people from Mexico to the U.S. during the years
1897-1931, as well as how both countries responded to this phenome-
non. Governed by booms and busts on both sides of the border, this
migration added more than a million new residents of Mexican origin
to the West.
Cardoso's story begins on the Mexican side of the border during the
waning years of the Diaz dictatorship. The author, who examined doc-
uments in Mexican and American archives, traces the origin of heavy
migration to the industrial development of northern Mexico in the
early twentieth century. When Porfirio Diaz made generous conces-
sions to foreign interests on the basis of their promises to help modern-
ize Mexico, his policies backfired. Railroad construction and massive
transfers of communal land to speculators caused the exodus of valu-
able workers and created widespread resentment of their privileges.
It is all but impossible to arrive at accurate Mexican immigration
figures; likewise, the factors that pushed and pulled migrants across the
border during this period are not easily discernible. Thus, while Car-
doso tells the story effectively in many sections of his book, he is uncon-
vincing in his assertion that an "open-door policy" (p. 54) during the
period 191o-192o was an extension of U.S. humanitarianism. Mexicans
contributed enormously to the building of southwestern industries and
agricultural regions. Studies by Chicano labor historians Rodolfo
Acufia, Ernesto Galarza, Juan G6mez Quifiones and Mario T. Garcia
demonstrate that economic factors far outweighed humanitarian rea-
While American scholars have studied U.S. attitudes toward Mexi-
can migration, Cardoso is one of the few to examine Mexican attitudes
and policies toward this phenomenon. The author shows that Mexico's
attempts to protect the rights of Mexicans in the U.S. were not success-
ful. Social injustices were so prevalent that few government officials
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/. Accessed May 26, 2015.