Senator Pushes School Course on Mass 1930s Deportations

Steve Lawrence, AP, April 21, 2008

State Sen. Gil Cedillo is trying to shine some light on a shocking but little known episode in American history. He faces an uphill battle.

The Los Angeles Democrat is the author of a bill that would require public junior high and high schools to teach students about the deportation of about 2 million Latinos, including 400,000 Californians, to Mexico during the Great Depression.

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The deportation program was started in 1929 (and ran to 1944) by the Hoover administration, supposedly as a way to get rid of illegal immigrants and open up jobs during the Depression. Most of those rounded up and sent to Mexico were American citizens or legal immigrants, critics say.

Cedillo calls it “an embarrassment to all Americans.”

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Cedillo’s bill is scheduled to be considered today by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Even if the bill clears the Legislature, it faces a possible veto by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who turned down similar legislation in 2006 that was introduced by then-Sen. Joe Dunn, a Democrat from Garden Grove.

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