Library of Congress

Teachers

The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > Immigration
Image of a Native American man
Image of an African man
Image of a German man
Image of an Irish man
Image of a Scandinavian lady
Image of an Italian lady
Image of a Japanese boy
Image of a Mexican woman
Image of a Chinese boy
Image of a Cuban man
Image of a  Polish man
Picture of globe - clicking produces a Flash animated map showing the pattern of Mexican immigration
Picture of clock - click to view global immigration timeline
Immigration Mexican
Image of US map - piece 1 Home Vocabulary Potluck Interviews Resources Conclusion
Image of US map - piece 2

A Growing Community

Mexican immigration in the 20th century came in three great surges of growth. The first surge began in the 1900s. Revolution in Mexico and a strong U.S. economy brought a tremendous increase in Mexican immigration rates. Between 1910 and 1930, the number of Mexican immigrants counted by the U.S. census tripled from 200,000 to 600,000. The actual number was probably far greater. El Paso, Texas, served as the Mexican Ellis Island--a gateway to a different life for Mexican immigrants and a powerful symbol of change and survival for their children and grandchildren.

For many Mexican immigrants, moving to the U.S. was not necessarily a one-time journey of permanent relocation. Since the distance was so short, Mexican citizens could return home relatively easily, and many did so--because of improved conditions in Mexico, because of family concerns, or because they had earned enough money to live more comfortably. In the 1910s and 1920s, it is estimated that more than 1 million Mexican immigrants returned to Mexico.

In the end, though, we can't know for certain exactly how much immigration from Mexico occurred during this period. Because of the length and openness of the U.S.-Mexican border, a great deal of immigration took place outside of legal channels. Undocumented immigrants tended to live on the margins of society and were especially vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers, or by the coyotes, or guides, who smuggled them across the border. The lack of documentation also makes it impossible for us to know exactly how great this surge of immigration really was.



Previous page Next Page

2005
2000
1995
1990
1985
1980
1975
1970
1965
1960
1955
1950
1945
1940
1935
1930
1925
1920
1915
1910
1905
1900
1895
1890
1885
1880
1875
1870
1865
1860
1855
1850
1845
1840
1835
1830
1825
1820
1815
1810
1805
1800
1795
1790
1785
1780
1775
1770