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Sanchez, George. “‘Go After The Women’ – Americanization and the Mexican Immigrant Woman, 1915-1929.” In Stanford Center for Chicano Research, 1–34. Working Paper No. 6, 1984.


This article addresses three different reactions to Mexican immigration in the U.S. from 1915-1929. One reaction was the establishment of American programs with the purpose of changing Mexican women and their cultural values within their households and the labor market. During this process Mexican-immigrant women, became conflicted with two clashing cultures, their Mexican culture and the American culture and lifestyle. The second group was the restrictionists, vocal respondents who wanted to limit Mexican immigration by ending and reversing the process. Restrictionists viewed immigrants as “foreigners, unassimilable and undesirable.” However, employers, such as the American Federation of Labor, used Mexican immigrants as cheap labor for industry. They also defended Mexican immigration on economic grounds. The third reaction was from the Americanist perspective, promoting assimilation of Mexican immigrants into the American lifestyle to ensure their loyalty to the democratic society. Americanists also wanted Mexican-immigrant women to carry out domestic work, such as washing, sewing cooking and learning English so they could assume these responsibilities in their homes as a way of preparing for their entry into the American labor market. This article provides a unique opportunity to examine the assumptions made about Mexican and American cultures. It also explains how the Americanists wanted Mexican women to control reproduction without offering them the appropriate resources and education with which to do it. Mexican women were expected to know about sex, family planning, and healthy pregnancy, concepts that were difficult for many to understand due to conflicts with Mexican traditions, cultural values, and religion. Sanchez concludes that the Americanization programs failed to change the cultural practices of Mexican-immigrant families, many of whom maintained their ethics, culture, and loyalty to Mexico. As a result in 1927, the Commission of Immigration and Housing along with the restrictionists, demanded to end unlimited immigration from Mexico.


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Race/ethnicity: Latina/Hispanic   History   Immigrants