On Tuesday, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors formally apologized for deporting “tens of thousands of Mexicans and Mexican Americans living in L.A. County” during the Depression because they were supposedly taking jobs from white U.S. born citizens.
MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) was recognized in Tuesday’s agenda for “their efforts to pursue a formal apology from the State of California to those individuals and families adversely affected by the Mexican Repatriation Program of the 1930’s.” The motion was arranged by Supervisor Gloria Molina.
“L.A. was very much part of these official roundups,” said Supervisor Gloria Molina. “There’s a point in time where the only thing you can do is offer an apology.”
Those taken to Mexico from Los Angeles were only a portion of the more than 2 million people that officials estimate were deported or forced to leave during the Depression-era campaign.
Scholars estimate that more than 60% were U.S. citizens. Some also said the campaign in Southern California served as a model for the rest of the country.
In a motion to the county board, Molina said there were massive clandestine raids that often separated families.
“Families were forced to abandon, or were defrauded of, personal and real property, which often was sold by local authorities as ‘payment’ for the transportation expenses incurred in their removal,” according to the motion.
Politicians and legal advocates launched a campaign in 2003 to win a formal apology and reparations. And in 2005, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill apologizing to the estimated 400,000 U.S. citizens and legal residents who were illegally deported to Mexico between 1929 and 1944.
On Sunday, public officials and MALDEF will unveil plans for a memorial for those affected by the Mexican Repatriation Program of the 1930’s.