Led by Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidates are embracing the policy of deporting some 11 million Hispanics in the country illegally.
If implemented, it would be a humanitarian calamity and a stain on the nation. But it wouldn't be the first time "American exceptionalism" took such a cruel turn.
During the Great Depression, some 1 million Mexicans were deported from the United States to Mexico. An estimated 60 percent were American citizens. In 1930, the U.S. population was only 123 million.
The overt intention was to free up more jobs for "Americans" (read Anglos) when unemployment was 25 percent or higher. But it was invariably twined with racism, score settling and ethnic cleansing.
The most definitive scholarly account is found in the book Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s, by Francisco Balderrama and the late Raymond Rodriguez. They focus heavily on Los Angeles County, where the deportation was active and records were kept.
The degree to which it was carried out in Arizona and Phoenix is less documented. The late historian Bradford Luckingham writes of the intense anti-Mexican sentiment in Phoenix in the 1930s. In a six-month period during 1933, 130 Mexican families were "repatriated" from Phoenix. They received food and clothing from Friendly House, the city's oldest immigrant-assistance charity.