Open or closed? Nothing new about border debate

Worried the war might cut off their supply of cheap labor, the Texas Dirt Farmers Congress appealed to the federal government on Jul. 22, 1941 to reopen the border with Mexico. Texas did not always have such a significant Mexican presence as today. In fact, at the end of the nineteenth century, less than one Texan in 20 had ancestral roots south of the Rio Grande.

Even in cosmopolitan San Antonio, the Lone Star melting pot with a population of fifty-three thousand, Germans outnumbered Mexicans. But the Mexican populace grew by 75 percent in the opening decade of the new century. The annual influx surpassed the total number of Mexicans that settled in Texas during 300 years of Spanish rule.

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