In 1933, the United States entered the depths of the Great Depression. To create jobs for native Americans, U.S. Secretary of Labor William N. Doak thought it would be a great idea to deport illegal immigrants.
“The [U.S.] federal government deported more than one million Mexicans and persons of Mexican ancestry,” the Cato Institute notes, in what was touted as a kindness of “repatriation.” This is even though approximately 60 percent of the deportees were U.S. citizens. Whether these deportees got to the right countries, who knows?
But this all backfired—a terrific blunder—because the repatriation efforts also increased unemployment rates for native-born Americans. Why? Because the loss of Mexican workers weakened productivity and slowed corporate growth at several levels, sending off native American jobs as well. Good move.
Although Congress passed no additional significant immigration restrictions during the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover did enact new administrative barriers for the first time in U.S. history by reinterpreting and enforcing previously unenforced public charge statutes to exclude immigrants based on their financial health.
“It is a shameful example to observe today how the entire democratic world dissolves in tears of pity, but then, despite its obvious duty to help, closes its heart to the poor, tortured people.” Guess who said this in the mid-1930s.