More from Wes about Mexican Americans
The story of Mexican Americans is inextricably linked to the fortunes of the United States itself.
Before 1854 a large part of the western U.S., including much of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming was actually part of Mexico.
Though war, treaties and land purchases roughly 100,000 Mexicans came under the jurisdiction of the U.S.
In what had been their own land, these new American citizens faced racial discrimination including loss of property, low wages and even lynching.
By 1890, the need for cheap labor had drawn another 75,000 Mexicans to the U.S.
And after the Mexican revolution of 1910 another massive wave of immigrants sought relative safety here.
With the great depression of the 1920s, however, an estimated 80,000 Mexicans repatriated each year, splitting families and communities apart.
Despite regular cycles of immigration and deportation millions of Mexicans have continued to make the U.S. their home. Here they have played a vital role in our culture and economy, filling many blue collar jobs and serving their country honorably in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and of course, the Gulf Wars.
But Mexican Americans have continued to struggle against their treatment as second class citizens.
Today, Mexican Americans still lag behind other Americans in income, education, and home ownership.
Still with over 18 million Mexican Americans living in the U.S. they are our countries fastest growing minority group which testifies to the determination of Mexican Americans and suggests more political and economic victories to come.