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Anti-Mexican sentiment is a fear, distrust, stereotype, hostility and aversion of people of Mexicanmarker descent, Mexican culture and/or the Spanish language. It is mostly associated with Mexican Americans in the United Statesmarker.

In general it is closely associated with Hispanophobia because some of the stereotypes between the two are very similar.


Throughout U.S. history, American people circulated negative stereotypes regarding Mexican Americans. Such stereotypes have long circulated in film and other media.

Racial stereotypes have amounted to discrimination against Mexican Americans through much of the 20th century. Caricaturism in the mass media (from the Mexican bandits in Westerns, street gangs, or advertising e.g. the Frito Bandito) are deemed as attributes.

1840s to 1920s

After the United States' victory over Mexico in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), Mexico was forced to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty required Mexico to cede over half its land to the United States in exchange for 15 million dollars. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo also guaranteed that Mexican citizens living in ceded lands would retain property rights and would be given United States citizenship if they remained in ceded lands for at least one year. However, the property rights of Mexicans were ignored by the United States government and local officials. Mexicans were systematically forced from lands which their families had held for generations in many cases.

The lynching of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the Southwest has long been overlooked in American history. This may be because most historical records categorized Mexican, Chinese, and Native American lynching victims as white. It is estimated that at least 597 Mexicans were lynched between 1848 and 1928 (this is a conservative estimate due to lack of records in many reported lynchings). Mexicans were lynched at a rate of 27.4 per 100,000 of population between 1880 and 1930. This statistic is second only to that of the African American community during that period, which suffered an average of 37.1 per 100,000 population. Between 1848 to 1879, Mexicans were lynched at an unprecedented rate of 473 per 100,000 of population. These lynchings cannot be excused as merely "frontier justice"--of the 597 total victims, only 64 were lynched in areas which lacked a formal judicial system.

During the California Gold Rush, as many as 25,000 Mexicans arrived in California. Many of these Mexicans were experienced miners and had great success mining gold in California. Some Anglos perceived their success as a threat and intimidated Mexican miners with violence. Between 1848 and 1860, at least 163 Mexicans were lynched in California alone. One particularly infamous lynching occurred on July 5, 1851 when a Mexican woman named Josefa Segovia was lynched by a mob in Downieville, Californiamarker. She was accused of killing a white man who had attempted to assault her after breaking into her home.

The Texas Rangers were also known to brutally repress the Mexican-American population in Texas. Historians estimate that hundreds, perhaps even thousands of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were killed by the Texas Rangers.

Anti-Mexican mob violence and intimidation resulted in Mexicans being displaced from their lands, denied access to natural resources, and becoming politically disenfranchised.


The Mexican American community has been the subject of widespread immigration raids. During The Great Depression, the United States government sponsored a Mexican Repatriation program which was intended to encourage people to voluntarily move to Mexico, but thousands were deported against their will. More than 500,000 individuals were deported, one source estimates that approximately 60 percent of which were actually United States citizens. In the post-war McCarthy era, the Justice Department launched Operation Wetback.


According to the National World War II Museummarker, between 250,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served in the Armed Forces during World War II. Thus, Hispanic Americans comprised 2.3% to 4.7% of the Army. The exact number, however is unknown as at the time Hispanics were classified as whites. Generally Mexican American World War II servicemen were integrated into regular military units. However, many Mexican American war veterans were discriminated against and even denied medical services by the United States Department of Veterans Affairsmarker when they arrived home. In 1948, war veteran Dr Hector P. Garcia founded the American GI Forum to address the concerns of Mexican American veterans who were being discriminated against. The AGIF's first campaign was on the behalf of Felix Longoria, a Mexican American private who was killed in the Philippinesmarker in the line of duty. Upon the return of his body to his hometown of Three Rivers, Texasmarker, he was denied funeral services because he was Mexican American.

In the 1940s, imagery in newspapers and crime novels portrayed Mexican American zoot suiters as disloyal foreigners or murderers attacking White-Anglo police officers and servicemen. Anti-zoot suiters sentiment sparked a series of attacks on young Mexican American males in Los Angeles which became known as the Zoot Suit Riots. The worst of the rioting occurred on June 9, during which 5,000 servicemen and civilians gathered in downtown Los Angeles and attacked Mexican-American zoot suiters and non-zoot suiters alike. The rioting eventually spread to the predominantly African American neighborhood of Wattsmarker.

Mexican American school children were subject to racial segregation in the public school system. They were forced to attend "Mexican schools" in California. In 1947, the Mendez v. Westminster ruling declared that racially segregating children of "Mexican and Latin descent" in state-operated public schools in Orange Countymarker and the state of Californiamarker was unconstitutional. This ruling helped lay the foundation for the landmark Brown v Board of Education case which ended racial segregation in the public school system.


In many counties in the southwestern United States, Mexican Americans were not selected as jurors in court cases which involved a Mexican American defendant. In 1954, Pete Hernandez, an agricultural worker, was indicted of murder by an all-Anglo jury in Jackson County, Texasmarker. Hernandez believed that the jury could not be impartial unless members of other races were allowed on the jury-selecting committees, seeing that a Mexican American had not been on a jury for more than 25 years in that particular county. Hernandez and his lawyers decided to take the case to the Supreme Court. The Hernandez v. Texas Supreme Court ruling declared that Mexican Americans and other racial groups in the United States were entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Many organizations, businesses, and homeowners associations had official policies to exclude Mexican Americans. In many areas across the Southwest, Mexican Americans lived in separate residential areas, due to laws and real estate company policies. This group of laws and policies, known as redlining, lasted until the 1950s, and fall under the concept of official segregation. In many other instances, it was more of a general social understanding among Anglos that Mexicans should be excluded. For instance, signs with the phrase "No Dogs or Mexicans" were posted in small businesses and public pools throughout the Southwest well into the 60s.


After the Civil Rights movement lifted all legal and social restrictions on Mexican Americans, there was a revived influx of Mexican immigrants seeking employment in the U.S., often came illegally across the US-Mexico border. The trend of a larger and more publicized Mexican/Latin American immigration continued onward in the late 20th and early 21st century. In the 1980s & 90s, illegal immigration produced more negative stereotypes and views of Mexicans by many Americans: white Anglos and African-Americans alike.

One of the most vicious cases occurred at the U.S.-Mexico border west of Douglas, Arizonamarker on August 18, 1976, when three campesinos were attacked crossing a ranch belonging to Douglas dairyman George Hanigan. The three were kidnapped, stripped, and hogtied; one had his feet burned. They were left for dead on the Sonoran desertmarker floor but managed to return to Agua Prieta, Sonoramarker, where they lodged formal complaints against George Hanigan and his two sons. The father died of a heart attack, and after three trials one of the Hanigan sons was convicted in federal court, and the other was found not guilty.

1980s & 90s

Despite the social-cultural emphasis on diversity, tolerance and antiracism in the U.S., Mexican Americans continued to experience direct racism and some level of media stereotyping branded them as foreign (not assimilated), urban criminals, overmasculine, oversexed and even undesirable. Hispanic media activists addressed the issues of anti-Mexican/Hispanic sentiment to the media corporations in that time, in addition to the politically charged issue of giving amnesty to undocumented immigrants was opposed by mainly conservative political circles.

In 1994, California state voters approved Proposition 187 by a wide majority, the initiative allowed state provided services from public education to private medical hospitals to examine any patient or client's citizenship status. Many Mexican-Americans opposed such measures as reminisicent of pre-civil rights era ethnic/racial discrimination and even denounced these actions are illegal under state and federal laws, as well international law when it involves the rights of foreign nationals in other countries. The proposition was brought into attention to the 9th circuit of the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker of San Francisco, in which the Proposition was declared void for reasons that the state voter-approved law was unconstitutional.

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