PATIÑO, Jimmy. Raza Sí, Migra No: Chicano Movement Struggles for Immigrant Rights in San Diego. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2017. 356p. Resenha de: RODRÍGUEZ, Elvia. The History Teacher, v.52, n.3, p.533-535, may., 2019.
In his book, Jimmy Patiño analyzes how the United States’ immigration policies became a focal point for Chicano Movement activists, particularly in San Diego.
San Diego, being a borderland region, emerges as a site of unity between Chicanos and Mexican nationals, as both groups were often victims of brutality from Border Patrol agents and/or experienced the negative effects of immigration laws (family separations, wage suppression, etc.). This unity is a “raza sí, migra no” stance that propels social and political action.
Part I of the book addresses activism around immigration through the 1930s-1950s with groups like El Congreso del Pueblo que Habla Español (Congress of Spanish-Speaking People) and Hermandad Mexicana (Mexican Brotherhood). Chicanos’ activism in the 1960s and 1970s is the focus of Part II.
Here, readers learn about the efforts of organizations such as CASA Justicia and La Raza Unida Party to resist what Patiño calls the “deportation regime” and how individuals in these organizations bring about a shift in the Chicano Movement’s agenda, not only by taking on the issue of immigration, but in so doing, adopting a transnational identity that unites Chicanos and Mexicans. “Raza sí, migra no” activists then focused on appealing to both the United States and Mexico to address the root causes of illegal immigration. The final chapter in Part II momentarily moves away from immigration to look at another form of persecution that people of color encountered—police brutality. Part III deals with San Diego organizations, especially the Committee on Chicano Rights (CCR), protesting the Carter and Reagan administrations’ oppressive immigration procedures. Patiño uses Herman Baca, who headed many of those efforts, as a connecting thread throughout the narrative. For decades, Baca and his print shop served as the center of resistance against the deportation regime.
Raza Sí, Migra No is a book that could be assigned in an upper-division course dealing with American, immigration, or Chicano history. A discussion on labor history would also benefit from the information presented by Patiño. Chapter 2, one of the strongest sections of the book, would be a valuable addition to any women’s history class. Here, Patiño discusses how white Border Patrol agents asserted their dominance over the Mexican/Chicano community by sexually harassing and/or assaulting women of Mexican ancestry. Patiño also demonstrates the patriarchal norms of Mexican culture as women were usually seen only as wives and mothers. Due to its very specific scope, the best place for this book, however, may be in a graduate seminar. Students would certainly receive greater insights into the debates and aims of the Chicano Movement, such as organizations’ diverging stance on support for amnesty or who is a member of la raza and who is not (many Chicano individuals excluded Mexicans from this community). Raza Sí, Migra No could also be used in a seminar on social movements, as Patiño does a masterful job at tracing the evolution and sometimes collapse of organizations seeking rights for minorities. Aside from students, educators may also find the book useful, especially when discussing the Carter administration as well as immigration policies of the late twentieth century.
Patiño’s critical look at Chicano activism makes his book a fine addition to the field. He does not shy away from presenting fractures and even failures within the Chicano movement. Moreover, Patiño’s examination of the coalition between Chicanos and African Americans (against police brutality in San Diego) is not typically found in this scholarship, but is a welcome contribution. While Raza Sí, Migra No presents fascinating issues, in some instances, the reader is left wanting more. For example, in Chapter 7, Patiño brings up the Ku Klux Klan’s plan to start a patrolling program on the U.S.-Mexico border, and he goes on to discuss the press coverage the Klan received over their plan, but then readers do not get more information on this very intriguing matter. Similarly, Patiño raises the idea that “the amnesty provisions of [the Reagan administration’s] IRCA co-opted social movement forces that could have focused on uprooting the deportation regime” (p. 265), but does so in the conclusion and devotes only a few sentences to this assertion. These exceptions aside, Raza Sí, Migra No absolutely furthers the scholarship of Chicano activism, but in addressing immigration policies, this book also sheds light on a matter that is at the forefront of today’s political climate.
Elvia Rodríguez – California State University, Fresno.