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Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s Paperback – August 1, 1995

21 customer reviews

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Paperback, August 1, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Balderrama and Rodriguez couldn't have penned a more timely book on Mexican Americans. As this century speeds to a close, history, as they say, seems to repeat itself. Today's Proposition 186 legislation in California is a carbon copy of xenophobic laws that were howled for and passed earlier this century in this country. Covering the 1930s, Decade of Betrayal details the shameful treatment that people of Mexican heritage were handed when the going got tough in the U.S. The Bill of Rights was out the window when it came to people of brown skin, who had to endure unlawful search and seizure and systematic roundups, such as the infamous La Placita raid, in which the INS, in conjunction with state and local police, surrounded a public park on a weekend day demanding proof of citizenship from those who didn't look "American" and arresting those who couldn't immediately show proof. U.S. citizenship did not provide protection from harassment by the government; legislators in Washington strongly debated and seriously considered the wholesale deportation of all "non-Americans," that is, nonwhites, from U.S. shores. This is an important historical accounting, "social history rather than historical sociology" as the authors state. Every active history and political science collection should add this title. Raul Nino --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


""Decade of Betrayal" is an important book on a topic little understood by most Americans." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 303 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826315755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826315755
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,387,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kristin Sz on June 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am wondering whether a few of the other reviewers have actually read Balderrama's book. I haven't finished it yet, but even I have figured out that Balderrama and Rodriguez are writing about how not only Mexican nationals were 'repatriated,' but also US-born, US citizens who happened to be of Mexican ancestry (and most likely not pale-skinned enough).

One of the principal questions the authors pose is: what is the relationship between legal citizenship and cultural citizenship? In other words, if even citizens get deported, many to a country they have never even seen, because of their imputed race, what does citizenship even mean? This question is very relevant today given the current scrutiny by ICE of immigrants, legal or not, and by all of DHS of citizens, especially those who fit certain suspect profiles.

The most interesting part of the book for me so far is the authors' in-depth look at Mexican families in the US in this period. In particular, their portrait of how families of Mexican descent were stereotyped and misunderstood by both the US and Mexican governments, and how as a result immigration and welfare policies were poorly formulated. It's worth thinking about how government policy can work (directly or indirectly) to either strengthen or break up families--and how many Mexican/American families (by this I mean families comprising people with Mexican and US citizenship) managed to stay together despite the economic and political struggles they faced.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Valdez on September 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Recently Mr. Rodriguez's obituary appeared in the LA Times and lead me to purchasing this book. Together with Mr. Francisco Balderrama the book provides an insight into a piece of history we never learned about in school. I have read all of the reviews and it appears the intent of the story may be lost on some of the readers. In the LA Times obituary it stated Mr. Rodriguez was most sad about public ignorance regarding the deportation of Mexicans and Mexican/Americans, "the greatest tragedy of all" was public ignorance of the deportations.

My 93 year old mother has often told me about living in El Paso during the 1930s. She recalls how her family was awakened by banging on the door in the middle of the night and the men asking for evidence of legal residence. My grandmother would answer the door with their papers in hand, evidence that they were living in the United States legally. My father enlisted in WWII in order to obtain his citizenship. My husband who had a green card, has lived in the United States since he was four years old, was not offered citizenship when he was sent to Viet Nam. He returned from Viet Nam and was refused employment due to his green card status at the gas or telephone company. As my wise mother would say, "such is life", we continue on. My mother was pleased to see this book with all of the stories and facts it provided. It was proof that her stories were not exaggerations.

Detaining people of color still takes place regardless of their birth place. I have been detained twice and I was born here. I think, don't know for sure, that some readers are ashamed of the behavior we are capable of displaying towards minorities.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jack Skellignton on July 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting part of American History. We should never forget the past, so that we may not repeat these awful racist misdeeds. Go figure? imigrants kicking imigrants out of the country.I reccomend this book for some insight in a part of American history that is usually left out of History books.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
The book Decade of Betrayal by Francisco Balderrama was an interesting and compelling book. I strongly disagree with the two reviews i read, especially Michael Sturdevant's review, its true that Balderrama was a bit arrogant but he was not preaching but merely putting in his two cents. Mexicans as well as all other immigrants came to this "great" country seeking a better life, true that opportunities were and are still here but they are only achieved through great difficulty. Mexicans have always faced harsh treatment in this competitive country, Balderrama was writing the fact that this country is not perfect and that the rights of the people especially immigrants have been broken in time of chaos. To this day we are facing morality problems in which immigrants are punished and deported because there are just too many people in this country and not enough opportunity. How are you going to say to someone you can come into this country and achieve a better life and tell someone else let your family starve because their are just too many immigrants and the law says to stay out. Balderrrama was sharing with the world the problems society has, he was not stating that the US is terrible but that the "land of opportunity" is not all that everyone dreams it to be.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This historical perspective of the Repatriation of Americans of Mexican Descent was unbelievably moving and exposed me to the unprecedented suffering and discrimination of Mexican Americans during the great depression. Banished, and stripped of their land the way the story of Repatriation was presented, brought tears to my eyes. I was so moved by the sacrifices of the impacted families saddened by the alienation of the American people as well as their own people in Mexico.
I had relatives that were impacted and never knew about their suffering and treatment by our country during the great depression. My only regret is that the United States apologized to Japanese, but refused to apologize to the Americans of Mexican Descent whose land was unconstitutionally taken and stripped of their rights as citizens. Banished to another country because of their race and because of the jobs they were performing that other Anglos needed was disheartening.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is searching for a historical perspective on the truth about the great depression and the injustice never discussed or shared by our education system.
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