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Mexican Immigration to America Timeline

The immigration policies of the United States towards Mexico have been subject to many changes fluctuating from promotional actions to highly restrictive measures.

The US has encouraged Mexican migrants during times of crisis such as wars when the nation suffered from serious labor shortages to the complete opposite stance when in times of stability Mexican immigration was stringently restricted.

The History Timeline of Mexican Immigration to America includes important dates and events in the history of Mexico that contributed to the push and pull factors which led to mass immigration from Mexico.

Mexican Immigration to America Timeline
Famous historical events include the Mexican-American War, WW1 and WW2 and the Bracero Program. The Mexican Immigration to America Timeline highlights the Push and Pull factors of immigration such as political and religious persecution, wars that occured in Mexico together with dates of any natural disasters such as floods, plague, crop failures and famine. Additional information on this subject can be found on Spanish Immigration to America Timeline.

Mexican Immigration to America Timeline
Between 1820 - 2000 Mexican Immigration to America totalled 6 million. According to the US Bureau of the Census of 2011 a total of 31,789,483 Americans claimed to be solely or partially of Mexican descent. Mexican-Americans made a significant impact on the culture of Americans and the history of the United States as can be seen in the following timeline detailing these immigrants to America. 



The Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes conquered Mexico 1519 - 1521 when he entered Tenochtitlan and captured Montezuma enters the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan and captured Montezuma. Cortes was followed by other Spanish explorers



Spain established a colonial government in New Spain and Mexicans were subjected to the harsh Spanish rule. The areas of northern Mexico were referred to as the "Spanish Borderlands" which eventually became the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. 



The Mexican War of Independence was fought from September 16, 1810 and ended on September 27, 1821 with the Treaty of Cordoba that gave Mexican independence from Spain and resulted in Texas becoming part of an independent Mexico.



The Adams Onis Treaty gave Florida to the U.S. and set out a boundary between the United States and New Spain (now Mexico).



The Mexican Republic was established when Mexicans won their independence from Spain. Mexico allowed Americans to settle in Texas and gave freedom to travel and trade with Mexico opening the Santa Fe Trail that ran 900 miles from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe (now New Mexico)



The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) erupted over unresolved border disputes and was fought in Texas, New Mexico, California and Central, Northern and Eastern Mexico.



The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on February 2, 1848 and ended the Mexican-American War and recognized the Rio Grande as America’s southern boundary. Under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico ceded Upper California and New Mexico to the United States covering 525,000 square miles for a payment of $15,000,000.



Gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill and started the California Gold Rush. Over 25,000 Mexicans arrived in California to stake their claims. Americans resented their presence and Mexicans together with other foreigners were subjected to violent assaults.



The financial Panic of 1873 began the six year period in the US called the 'Long Depression' that led to riots and strikes and an increase in anti-immigrant sentiments.



The 1891 Immigration Act was a law that provided for the inspection and deportation of immigrants



The border crossing at El Paso, Texas was established, often described as the "Mexican Ellis Island" in terms of migration from Mexico.



The restrictive Immigration Act of 1907 was passed and also created the Dillingham Commission to review U.S. immigration policy.



The Mexican Revolution (1910 - 1920) erupts and thousands of Mexicans flee across the border for safety in the United States.



World War 1 (1914 - 1918) breaks out and American soldiers fighting in the war create a labor shortage in the U.S. During this time Mexicans were encouraged to work in the United States



In 1915 US Congress authorizes "Mounted Inspectors" along the US-Mexico Border



Mexican immigration to America continued to grow and according to the U.S. census between 1910 and 1930, the number of immigrants from Mexico tripled from 200,000 to 600,000.



The 1921 Emergency Quota Act based on a percentage sydtem established limits and restricted the number of immigrants from a given country



The Great Depression (1929 - 1939) reversed the flow of immigration from Mexico, unemployment escalated in the United States to 25% and many Mexicans were deported.



The Immigration Act of 1924 established the Border Patrol to combat smuggling and illegal immigration. Additional Border stations were established to formally admit workers from Mexico.



World War Two (1939-1945) created another labor shortage in the United States as many of Americans were drafted into the military.



The Bracero Program (1943 - 1965) encouraged Mexicans to work in America and the number of migrants from Mexico began to increase again.

  • The Bracero Program brought 5,000,000 temporary Mexican laborers to Work on farms and railroads in the United States
  • The Bracero Program continued for 22 years to help the US economy during, and after, WW2.



The Border Patrol seized nearly 280,000 illegal immigrants



The Korean War (1950-1953) led to another labor shortage in rural areas and saw a resurgence of the Bracero Program



The numbers of illegal Mexican immigrants seized by the Border Patrol had increased to more than 865,000 Mexicans which led to the establishment of Operation Wetback.



Operation Wetback was a system of cooperation between the United States Border Patrol and the Mexican government to control illegal immigration. The United States Immigration Service deported more than 3.8 million people of Mexican descent as a result of Operation Wetback.



The first maquiladoras (factories) were established under the Border Industrialization Program.



The Bracero program was repealed.



The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 granted legal status to qualifying Immigrants who had entered the US illegally before January 1, 1982



The Secure Fence Act authorized fencing and the use of surveillance technology along the US-Mexican Border

Mexican Immigration to America Timeline

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