Welcomed Mexican Invasion Catalysts of Mexican Immigration 1876

This is the title of my senior thesis that I wrote for my senior history major requirement. This title is an actual title of a New York Times article that was published in 1920. I used this to give the reader and/or audience an idea of how we relied on their labor and partially caused the immigration. I finished writing this last semester. THIS IS MY OWN WORK, I DID NOT COPY AND PASTE IT FROM ANOTHER SITE.



The effects of migration between the United States and Mexico are scarcely known, yet the problem is important and the demands the attention of both countries towards its solution.

~Manuel Gamio, 1930.


Numerous historians have focused their intellectual energy on the development and evolution of the East Coast of the United States through the immigrations of Europeans to Ellis Island and other ports of entry. This had subtly caused American mainstream society to be inclined to overlook other important large-scale immigrations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that have greatly impacted all aspects of American society. Mexican immigration over a period of only a few decades has irreversibly changed the history of the development of the American southwest. The growth of the railroads, both in Mexico and in the United States, led to increased Mexican immigration and the subsequent Mexican labor force had substantial impacts not only on the economy of the southwest United States but also on its culture by importing new and different forms of music, food and customs. Since as much as 10 percent of Mexico's population, approximately one and a half million people, trekked northward to the United States between 1900 and 1930[1], this period of time gives testimony that this too is an important chapter in the history of the United States of America.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Mexican immigration was paramount in the development of the economy of the southwest United States, and specifically in Texas, where the presence of Mexican immigrants provided a large labor force and were considered as very advantageous because of their ability to adapt and be stretched over a broad range of labor occupations. Several independent events were gaining momentum both in Mexico and in the United States. Eventually these forces coalesced and fostered large-scale Mexican immigration into the United States. The economic shortcomings in Mexico were due to the fact that its working class was weathering a severe and deteriorating economic condition under the industrialization policies of Mexican President Porfirio Diaz (1876-1911) that over time displaced thousands of campesinos[2]. It was during his tenure in the 1890s when the large-scale immigrations began. In the United States there was an ambitious plan to connect the east and west coasts via railroad.  Among other catalysts in Mexico, the expansion of the railroads in the southwest United States in conjunction with the support of the Mexican government was the most significant underlying catalyst that spurred immigration delivering both laborers and goods to the southwest. The large-scale immigration that ensued was the response by disgruntled Mexican campesinos to a colossal demand for labor in Texas as well as in the general southwest. The railroads represent the physical economic links that laid the foundation for the immigrations that significantly impacted the southwest economy, the best examples of which are the railroads along the border of Texas.

Railroads were vital in many aspects of industrialization throughout the United States and Mexico because they served as conduits of international trade. But more importantly railroads offered both the means of transportation and work for the populations of discontented campesinos to northern Mexico and shortly thereafter into the United States. Mexicans followed the rails north to the United States using existing railroads linking Mexico and the United States. There were several major border cities in Texas that were linked to Mexico via railroads and provided Mexican immigrants the means to enter easily. Some of these railroads were named the Mexican National Railway and the Frisco Lines in Texas, serving a vital use as conduits for the immigrants and goods. As the railroad networks expanded, the pace of Mexican immigration from Central to Northern Mexico and to the southwestern United States hastened and strengthened. The newly acquired state of Texas benefited exceedingly from this infusion of Mexican labor since it had already been somewhat industrialized and populated by the influx of American settlers. Texas as well as other soon-to-be states in the southwest was soon in need of a large labor force in such industries as cotton, agriculture and mining. Agricultural industries in the American southwest would benefit to a great extent because Mexican immigrant laborers had farming experience having lived and worked in an agrarian-based economy for centuries. When Diaz had first implemented industrialization policies, railroads had become of great importance internally in Mexico and needed labor; hence Mexican laborers already were gaining experience in working and maintaining railroads. Both of these qualities would make Mexican immigrant labor attractive in the United States.

The growing labor demands of the industrialization of the American southwest and especially in Texas benefited from its close proximity to Mexico. This period of time coincided with the events in Mexico where the poor economic performance of some haciendas resulted in significant displacement of agricultural laborers. With the government of the United States placing an exceedingly high priority on building intercontinental railroads, a monumental undertaking indeed, railroad construction would need a large labor force. Mexican immigrant laborers would respond to this demand and it would be a considerable source of economic growth.

The economic face of Mexico drastically changed when President Diaz came to power in 1876. Until then Mexico was a country that did not have many urban centers of production and still relied on an agrarian based economy composed of rural farmers. As soon as the Mexican government started to implement industrialization policies, large plantation-like farms called haciendas[3] were created. The campesinos did not experience any economic prosperity because this industrialization, which was partially due to capitalistic influences of the United States, was aimed to benefit the elite of Mexican society. The elite would further debilitate the economic position of the campesinos and thus sow deeper threads of discontent among the campesinos and fuel their desire for better work and wages.


Well before 1910 [that] agriculture in the southwestern parts of the United States had become heavily dependent on Mexican migratory labor.[1] Realizing this, the utilization of immigrant labor in the American southwest was peaking around the year 1890, restricted because of lack of transportation, railroad construction not yet having peaked. The workers lacked practical means of transportation from Central Mexico and the implementation of railroads would give them this transportation. The decade of the 1890s became an important time because the rate of immigration correlated with the implementation of railroad networks connecting the United States to Mexico.

More than 9000 miles of railroad are now either in operation or under construction in the various parts of the stateMarshall to El Paso, in the west, there is an uninterrupted stretch of 960 miles...Denison, in the north, to BrownsvilleThese two lines embrace a mil

Uploaded 03/22/2009
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