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Three Worlds of ReliefRace, Immigration, and the American Welfare State from the Progressive Era to the New Deal$
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Cybelle Fox

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152233

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152233.001.0001

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The Mexican Dependency Problem

The Mexican Dependency Problem

(p.73) Chapter 4 The Mexican Dependency Problem
Three Worlds of Relief

Cybelle Fox

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at the emergence of the perception of a “Mexican dependency problem,” which gained early traction in Los Angeles. Prior to the 1920s, social workers in the city were cautiously optimistic that Mexicans could be assimilated, and they saw relief as one step in that process. As Mexicans made greater use of relief, however, social workers' initial optimism waned. By the mid-1920s, they became convinced that Mexicans were a dependent and diseased population, lacking in thrift and ambition. They decided that their efforts at Americanizing this group had failed. Concerned that charity funds were essentially subsidizing the agricultural industry, they came to believe that Mexicans represented an illegitimate economic and social burden to “American taxpayers.” Mexicans, they concluded, were racially inassimilable after all.

Keywords:   Mexican dependency, social workers, Mexican immigrants, relief, Americanization, charity funds, economic burden, social burden, American taxpayers

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