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

4.2 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Paperback, August 1, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

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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.


"Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez's "Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s" remains one of the seminal works within Chicano history and immigration studies."

""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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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. We are quick to deny and protest looking at the past in hopes that in the future these behaviors will not be repeated.
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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
An illuminating and necessary read for any who desire to learn the unofficial history of these United States. Utilizing both extensive research and moving personal accounts, Balderrama and Rodriguez shed light on an injustice that has been too long forgotten or suppressed--an injustice which haunts us today, and, in fact, continues to tragically impact many. An important book, essential for a deeper understanding of racial and ethnic tensions today.
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