IMMIGRANTS FROM MEXICO SIXTY THREE THOUSAND IN SIXTY THREE YEARS BETTER CLASS LAST YEAR Where Formerly Mostly Laborers Entered Now Many Business Men Come

August 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

This from the Laredo Times, January 10, 1910, for everyone who is convinced, among other things, that Mexican immigrants steal jobs from patriotic Americans eager and willing to do such work as lick toilets clean and castrate yearlings with their teeth for six bucks, but not for five. Tain’t the case now; waren’t the case then. Read on, puddin’heads, and learn a lesson from the past.

In this discussion of Mexican immigration to the United States the descendants of the old Mexican and Spanish families who settled in Texas and other parts of the West and Southwest prior to the separation of that part of the country from Mexico have been eliminated. Very nearly all descendants of these old families remained, grew up amid the prevailing surroundings and influences of the southwestern part of the United States and are today among the most prominent and progressive citizens of that section of the country. Their ancestors were the original recipients of the large Spanish land grants and when these lands passed under the jurisdiction of the United States the progeny of the old Spanish stock remained with the land. Immigration from the northern and eastern sections of our own country in many instances forced these people to dispose of their large holdings but the affable and polite character habitual with the early Spanish could not be dispelled, even now it wields a constant influence in many sections of the southwestern country. The love of ancestry family tradition, long established racial manner and scrupulous indulgences of a noble race and characteristic of the Spanish people formerly operated against this class of people intimately associating with the American settlers of the south west. Notwithstanding these prominent racial differences the Spanish speaking element has become thoroughly imbued with the true American spirit in the task of aiding in developing the wonderful resources of that section and adding both capital and brains promoting the wealth and unity of these great United States. The United States acquired a large established Spanish speaking population when it acquired Texas and a large area of additional territory to the south west in 1848 it was but natural that people of the same racial civility should be attracted to the part of the country where their own kind had already settled and the development of the rich agricultural lands was well under way Mexico being originally settled by the Spanish race and its internal conditions being turbulent and rebellious. The peons or laboring classes had a difficult time to make more than a scanty existence out of the little which was allowed them, therefore any reasonable offer held to them to migrate was at once accepted.

As the Spanish land owners of the United States had numerous herds of cattle and sheep and few herders to look after their stock they invariably went to Mexico, offered laborers of that country somewhat better wages than they could possibly get at home and in this way induced the earliest Mexican immigrants to come to this country Thus began the movement which is today responsible for the constantly increasing Mexican immigration. From the most authentic official reports Mexican immigration to this country began in 1857. For a period of thirty years thereafter or until 1887 only 10,610 immigrants arrived from Mexico. Many others came during this period but returned after working six or eight months on the cattle or sheep ranches in the vicinity of the border having become dissatisfied because original promises of high wages food and clothing made by the ranchmen who induced them to come were not fulfilled.

During the next thirteen years, from 1887 to 1900, a total of 7000 Mexicans migrated to the United States, showing an increase of nearly 100 per annum over the previous 30 years.

In 1901 the large construction and development companies of the southwestern part of the United States began to look to Mexico for their laborers. Agents were according sent to the interior of that country to induce the necessary number of laborers to work on railway construction and in many instances in and about mines.

Beginning with 1901 Mexican immigration was more active than in previous years as between this date and the close of the fiscal year ended June 30 1907, 11048 laborers arrived at the Mexican border ports for distribution by the various labor agencies among the corporations and other concerns engaging them and at an average of wage of $1.00 gold per day The labor agent usually received 50 cents per head for securing these laborers. During the past few years the cotton planter of the South also entered the labor market for men to work in harvesting the cotton crop. This gave a new impetus to the immigration from the interior of Mexico, consequently whole families would come for the sole purpose of picking cotton. From July 1, 1907 until the close of the fiscal year ended June 30 1909, 25,000 Mexicans, principally laborers, entered the United States of which 18,000 passed thru the port of Laredo. Fully 10,000 more arrived since the beginning of the present fiscal year. This country has therefore received a total of 63,589 Mexican immigrants since 1857.

Before the year 1901 immigration from Mexico was not considered of sufficient importance to merit recognition. It was held that it did not add to our wealth or population. The arrivals from that country did not venture exceed two hundred miles beyond the border where many of their own people had settled and found steady employment and where their presence in any considerable number would not be noticed. During the past three years this race has added materially to the over growing population of the entire state of Texas. Since 1907 many laborers in Mexico abandoned their homes, ranches and shops where they were employed, under the inducements offered them by the numerous agents from the United States operating in that country to take advantage of the high wages offered for labor of the United States. This process has practically depopulated many sections of that Republic. The transportation of these laborers and that of their families is in many instances prepaid at the border and enough money given them to prepay their transportation to their final destination in the United States in case they are admitted. After admission the agents instrumental in bringing them apportion them out to the various concerns employing them and send them to their proper destination. As long as our demand for laborers holds out, immigration from Mexico will not only continue but constantly increase until all demands for cheap labor are fully supplied. As laborers of other nationalities cannot subsist on seventy five cents per day and support large families. Mexicans are practically assured of constant employment in tbe southwest as long as the many industries of that section remain in active operation. No other class of people can survive the long hot summers or compete with them when the actual cost of living remains as high as at present. Under these conditions, Mexican laborers are successful competitors against all comers; their wants are few, their living expenses low and during the cotton picking season entire families can earn enough to add to the common fund to guard against every emergency during the idle seasons.

As the early ranchmen of the southwestern country had a difficult task to keep their Mexican employees unless they assisted them to bring their families to them, and provided some sort of a house in which they could all live, so employers of this kind of labor of later times are assisting the families of their employees to come and like wise providing them with suitable quarters so they will not quit or return or seek employment from those who will. Those Mexicans with families seldom become dissatisfied if they are with them even though their wages are small and their surroundings primitive. It is therefore necessary for those employing Mexican labor to furnish small adobe or jackals in order to completely satisfy them. Construction companies usually furnish them old freight cars in which to live so that no time is lost moving from place to place. Construction companies are further able to keep their laborers by giving them and their families a railway pass to the border if they remain with them six months or more in case they desire to return to their native country to visit their relatives or induce them to come to the United States.

All laborers purchase their rations and other necessities at the company’s commissary and in this manner many spend almost their entire wages, the company eventually reaping the benefit of practically all wages paid

The labor agents and supply companies operating in every town on the border are directly responsible for the large exodus of laborers from Mexico. Those concerns receive a stated compensation for supplying railway and construction companies, plantations and mining companies with all necessary Mexican labor. They keep paid agents in Mexico soliciting laborers and are usually able to furnish them in any number and for any purpose on short notice

The agents whom the supply companies send to Mexico to secure laborers are generally irresponsible and adept in the gentle art of prevaricating to the ignorant and inexperienced; these agents presumably work on their own responsibility but it has been ascertained that some supply company in almost every instance furnishes the funds. All money advanced for transportation to the border or to enable laborers to reach their destination in the United Slates after admission is afterwards deducted from their wages. Many have sold last of personal property to get sufficient money to get to the United States and take advantage of the high wages held out to them. In the course of a few months they earn enough to send for some of their relatives and perhaps migrate farther into the interior where conditions are more conductive for higher wages. Thus the constant tide of immigration is maintained and labor supplied for the entire southwest.

Contrary to the views heretofore advanced that Mexican laborers are coming to this country for temporary sojourn only, it has been ascertained that the entire south western portion of our country is becoming rapidly filled with actual settlers from Mexico. In every town within two hundred and fifty miles from the border there are well established Mexican settlements, many of the people having arrived within the past two years. Ranches, plantations, railroads and numerous other concerns and individuals are well supplied with a full quota of Mexican labor. In northern Texas, Mexicans are displacing other labor as rapidly as they can be secured, and at good wages During the cotton season the demand has heretofore been greater than be supply, notwithstanding the high wages offered. The cotton planter could secure no laborers and he was therefore obliged to send to Mexico that he might gather his crop. New Mexico, Arizona and California have been employing this class of people for years and owing to the large amount of construction work in those sections there is a constant demand for more. The transcontinental railway lines operating in that part of the country been employing Mexicans for some time and have taken them east as far as Chicago. The middle west is also being rapidly supplied with Mexican labor and it is not uncommon to see hundreds of Mexicans employed in this section where only few years ago there were none. The railroads first brought them to that section for construction work but in many instances they were able to get better wages on the farms so they abandoned railroad work and many are now employed in this manner. Mexican labor has displaced the Greek and Italian labor formerly doing the section work on railroads in many parts of the west and as it is usually paid less it will rapidly displace other labor in other capacities on the various railway lines. As long as living wages prevail immigration from Mexico will continue; the labor problem is being solved in many parts of the country by employing this class of people; they are migrating like other races to better their condition; they are contributing labor and industry towards the development of the United States. Many are building homes, purchasing farms, learning trades and in other ways adding to the wealth of the country. While much of their savings is sent to Mexico, it is done to bring friends and relatives to the United States. Old debts are being paid off so the debtor can migrate and begin life anew and as all immigrants of the laboring class from all countries work cheap at first as do all this class; but it does not take much time before many become fairly well skilled and are then able and to demand better wages and receive them.

While our immigration Mexico since 1857 is very small compared with that from other countries, it being only 63,583 during a period of sixty three years considering that there is such a large Mexican population in all the states and territories bordering on Mexico it must be remembered that there is also a large native born Mexican population in these same states and territories which cannot be considered when preparing statistics of those who were born outside the United States and afterwards migrated to this country. Practically about two-thirds of the Mexican population of the United States is native born, therefore when this fact is taken into consideration, the immigration of this class of people to our country does not appear so large or those residing in the United who came from Mexico so numerous.

Of all the previous immigration from Mexico until recently, nine tenths was of the laboring class, poor, ignorant, unskilled in all but the commonest labor and having little or no money upon arrival. Very few had to exceed ten dollars; the majority less than five. During the present year many of the better classes are coming It is not uncommon for Mexicans to have several hundred dollars with which to begin in this country. Many tradesmen and shop-keepers are migrating to continue their business in the United States. Those who have had constant employment since their arrival are sending for their relatives as rapidly as they can secure the funds and will therefore reside here permanently. With a class of people constantly immigrating to our country who are ready to aid in its development, the gates will never be closed..

W.O. Seaver

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