tv U.S. - Mexico Border Wall CSPAN December 16, 2018 3:38pm-4:01pm EST
family have a place come and learn about the war, remember about the war, contribute their history so we can continue to educate our country about this incredible part of american history. our ultimate goal would be to pursue designation national museum of the vietnam war. we think we have almost 30 years of a track record working with our nation's veterans and preserving the materials and providing this incredible forum where people come together to learn about this war. texas tech, state of texas this is the right place for it. announcer: the first fence along the u.s.-mexico border, intended for cattle, was intended for cap -- was built in the early 1900s. american history tv recorded
this 15 minute interview in san antonio, texas. penn state professor mary mendoza talks about how immigration and border barriers changed over the course of the 20th century. >> joining us from san antonio, her hometown, professor mary e. mendoza, teaching at penn state university and her book title -- and her book. we thank you for being with us on c-span3. there is so much debate right now about the border wall. give us the history and what you have learned in researching this topic. prof. mendoza: well, one of the things i focus on is the environmental history of the u.s.-mexico border since which was very long. people don't know we have been building fences and walls on the border for quite some time. the first fence was built in the early 1900s to stop a cattle pick that was crossing the border from mexico into the
united states. the u.s. department of agriculture decided they needed to stop that from happening, so they build the fence. the tick was carrying a disease from mexico into the united states. the u.s. had launched a huge eradication campaign but mexico did not have to do that so once they tick was eradicated, the fence went up to stop cattle from crossing the border and thus the bugs. the first fence was finished in 1911. it started as an environmental control project. over time, the fence changed and became a tool to control human migration. >> before 1911, what was the border like? prof. mendoza: it was pretty much an open range with a free flow of animals and people. cattle trades going on. people running cattle from south to north. people moving across the border freely. there were obelisks. 258 obelisks built in the 1890's that marked the border, but 258 obelisks marking the border along the border meant there were several miles apart. you could really not be sure where the border was.
very open. >> what were the border walls made out of? prof. mendoza: early on, they were fences and they were barbed wire. they were meant to control cattle. four or five barbed wire and the first fences were built on the southern california border. they were just there. texas remained mostly fenceless until the middle of the 20th century because the river provided a natural barrier. there were barbed wire fences mostly in southern california to start. >> what was the program? can you explain? prof. mendoza: the middle of the 20th century is when fences became tools to control human migration and that was during the program which was a guest worker program that lasted from 1942 to 1960. the program was meant to fill labor gaps created by world war ii. the idea was that mexico would
send workers to the united states to fill the labor gap. it was open only to men who did not own property, young, willing. men started to travel south to north. through channels created by u.s. and mexico, an international agreement. it was closed to women. as people came, other people applied as men to become part of the program and did not qualify so they started crossing the border looking for work as well. they often found it. women crossed the border as well. one interesting piece of information about the border fence from this period was this was a transitional moment. this is when fences became tools to control human migration but the people they wanted to control were women. historians don't talk about women because it was a program only open to men, but when border would look for people crossing the border without permission, not part of the
program, they would find women and men, but when they would apprehend women, particularly in urban areas, they were self-conscious because women would cry and scream as one would do if you are being apprehended. border patrol agents were claiming that the women were using their femininity out of being caught. they would divert women to rural landscapes. it was built for women, not men. >> the separation of families is a policy in place by the trump administration, although they have rescinded these actions. did this happen during this time period? prof. mendoza: one could argue that family separation dates back earlier than that but certainly this period, because the program was only open to men, it meant that men were leaving their families behind. because policy stipulated specifically that women were not allowed to cross the border with
their husbands or partner, families were being separated in that regard. as women were being apprehended, sometimes they had children with them. occasionally -- i cannot speak for certain how often -- but i am certain there were moments they were unable to stay with their children. this is a long-standing policy of the united states. the trump administration has not done anything all that new. >> the other part of the debate is it is very much an economic issue, most honorably in california where the agricultural industry relies on immigrants during the harvesting season. can you explain why these immigrants left mexico, came to the u.s. and economic impact to the u.s. during the time period you have researched? prof. mendoza: sure.
lots of them needed, simply put, they needed more money and the united states dollar was worth more so they traveled north to the united states to send money back on. the program had a lot of incentives. one was you would come to the united states and you would be able to make more money because the dollar was worth more and you get paid more than you would in mexico. part of the package was the united states and mexico partnered to do this and in doing so would create savings accounts so that when their contracts were up, or harvest season was over, they would go home and have money waiting for them in a savings account. i could get into all kinds of issues that came as a result. many men went home and did not get the money that they earned, but the idea was they needed money and going for money and they still are. >> are you currently teaching this topic at penn state? prof. mendoza: actually, i'm leave at the clinic center of southwest bodies at southern
methodist university. i'm not teaching this year, i am working on my book but i will be teaching on this topic, yes. >> did the fences work? prof. mendoza: no. simply put, they did not. part of the reason is that movement is a natural process. moving across space. bugs, people, cattle, other animals move across the border constantly. fences are stagnant objects that you can walk around. even today, there are only 658 miles of border fence or for the wall along a 1959 mile border. there are several pockets where the border remains open, fenceless. border patrol agent cannot stop everything or everyone. a static object will never work. >> if you work in the u.s. in 1911 as the wall was being put in place and you were
apprehended by a border patrol agent, what was the process? what did that individual face? prof. mendoza: generally speaking -- in 1911, they weren't really looking for mexican migrants. they were looking for chinese immigrants who were coming across the border because the u.s. past chinese exclusion laws in the 1880's and early 20th century. later, when people were apprehended, they were often deported right away. sometimes they would be detained for a little while. if they were men who were not supposed to be crossing the border during the program, sometimes border patrol agents would shave their heads so they would be able to tell if they had recently been apprehended and sent back across the border. that was one way to keep track of who they were catching
multiple times because the people were sent back, they would try again. people were caught many times before they were successful and that is still the case today. for women, they were not shave their heads but they would certainly deport them or detain them. >> let me underscore the point you made because a century later, we're dealing with the same issues. technology has changed and the flow has changed but the problems remain, correct? prof. mendoza: that is right. fences have not solved them yet. they have created environmental problems. we have lots of animal suffering at the border. habitat fragmentation is happening. habitats get split and that could sometimes result in local extension where an animal that drives in an ecosystem dies off. of course, people are dying as well as they go through harsh landscapes to avoid fences, the death toll has gone up tremendously in the past two decades. >> having grown up in texas, did you see this debate firsthand? prof. mendoza: i did. i grew up around it a lot. my father is a brick layer who
works on construction sites regularly with mexican men. i was around them a lot. i heard a lot about border crossing and how to do it and how not to do it, when to go back all the time. this is something that has been all my life. >> as someone who has researched this, where do you go for information to work on your book, thesis and other projects? prof. mendoza: i travel all over. the book is meant to be a transnational research project. i go to mexico city, archives in northern mexico, the public archive in northern mexico. a lot had to do with health early on and disease. there is a migration archive in mexico city. i travel all over the united states, california, texas, new mexico and arizona, obviously have great libraries. the u.s. national archives, the u.s. agricultural library, library of congress has all kinds of documents related to government efforts to build fences or to oppose them, sometimes in the case of mexican archives. >> are there any pictures of this time period and/or any remnants of what it looked like? prof. mendoza: absolutely.
there are pictures of open ranges, obelisks. when the monuments i mentioned earlier were constructed by the u.s.-mexican boundary commission, there were several photographs taken. another historian is working on it visual history of that and what it looks like and the images were disseminated in both countries. later, there were pictures of new fences, what they look like. i encountered lots of pictures in the urban areas in the 1940's and 1950's when new gaetz were constructed -- gates were constructed. i have a wonderful image of a woman walking over a fence that has fallen over. one of my favorite pictures and i use it a lot when i talk about the issue of women crossing the border. >> when you discuss this with your peers or teaching, what are the biggest misconceptions? what do you want people to take
away from your research and work? prof. mendoza: i think two things which we mostly highlighted -- the first is this is not new. early on, they had nothing to do with human migration. that has really changed over time. that change signifies a particular way of thinking about mexico, latinos, mexican people, people from central america. we reappropriated things that are used to control the movement of new animals to control the movement of humans. we talk a lot about that in my class. the other pieces, particularly the middle of the 20th century when the program was happening, fence construction was really aimed at stopping the migration of women. when we think about this period
of historians and scholars at the border, it is very often only about men. the process is building up the border was as much about women as it was about men. >> professor mary e. mendoza joining us from the western history association in san antonio. thank you for being with us. prof. mendoza: thank you very much. announcer: you are watching american history tv, only on c-span3. man's quest for knowledge certainly was a major impetus in the voyage to the moon, which s planned forntist september. a few days before the apollo eight countdown, at the first white house dinner honoring the space team, president johnson praised outgoing director james webb. lindbergh, charles famed for his solo flight 41 years ago, and the astronauts of
apollo seven and apollo eight, who in 1968 earned their place in history. en route to the dinner they autographed a document which will hang in the treaty room. before the countdown for apollo eight begins, i want to say this to the men of this crew . we pray for you. we think of you. we wish you godspeed. we wish you safe return. and the only person in the world who is going to be more concerned about you than i am is a girl who waits for your return. , we 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9
have ignition and the engines have started. we have lift off. we have cleared the stars. >> i can hear you loud and clear. >> 65 years to the months since the wright brothers flew a plane powerful saturn rockets launched a crew on man's first trip to the moon. it was described as a perfect rocket wasd soon the traveling 24 miles per hour.
by now, the space men were radioing back of their close-up sightings of the moon only 70 miles away. >> it means different things to each one of us. vast, lonely, for bidding type of existence. an expanse of nothing. it would not appear to be a very to live or work. >> the astronauts photographed the sea of tranquility and other potential landing sites. with lunar shadows lengthening and the- below them void of the universe growing astronauts read from the book of genesis the story of creation.
>> in the beginning, god created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void. and darkness was on the face of the deep. and the spirit of god moved along the water. and god said, let there be light, and there was light. light that ite was good. light fromled the the darkness. and god called the light day, and the darkness light. and it was evening and morning on the first day. let there be a firmament upon the waters, and god divided the earth from the waters. called the firmament heaven.
and it was evening and morning for a second day. said let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place. and it was so. and god called the dry land earth. and the gathering together of seasaters, he called these , and god said that it was good. and from the crew of apollo eight, good night, good luck, merry christmas, and god bless all of you, all of you on this good earth. now, the most critical moment had arrived, when the team would attempt to restart their engines and rocket back to earth. >> all clear. >> please be informed there is a santa claus.
it could only mean one thing. the engines were started again and apollo eight was on its way home. a flawless, supremely successful flight with splashdown coming in the dawn hours of september 27 1000 miles southwest of honolulu. event, said the russians. the vatican called it daring, incredible. a british astronomer who had questioned its scientific value now called it one of the historic moments in the development of the human race. from paris, a supreme compliment.
and from washington, president johnson conveyed to the astronauts the exultant feelings of americans. >> we want to welcome you home. we thank god you are back safe again. you make us there a proud to be alive at this moment in history. feel akin to those europeans a century ago who of the new world for the first time. there is no other comparison we can make that is equal to what you have done or to what we feel. 50 years ago on december 21, 1968, jim lovell and bill anders blasted off from the kennedy space center in florida on the first manned mission to orbit the moon. bill anders sent the iconic photograph on christmas eve.