187 years ago, Texas’ first immigration ban didn’t go over well

The government was deeply concerned. Immigrants were pouring into their northern lands. Immigrants who were armed. Who did not accept their values. And, perhaps most terrifyingly, did not share their religion.

Building a border wall, of course, wasn’t remotely feasible. But if they had tried, it wouldn’t have been on the Rio Grande (or Rio Bravo as they called it). It would have been on the Red River.

We’re talking about Mexico in 1830, of course. A decade after Spanish authorities had welcomed settlers from the United States to help colonize Texas, newly-independent Mexico was beginning to realize that this was not going to end well for them.

So on this day in 187 years ago, the Mexican Congress issued the Law of April 6, 1830. Article 11 of that decree expressly forbid, according to T.R. Fehrenbach’s “Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans,” any “further colonization of the Mexican territory by citizens of adjacent countries.”

It was an immigration ban. Aimed at the United States.

The immigrants did not take it well. The Texas colonists were not only insulted, but were counting on growth to fuel their economy.

For years, embroiled in its own fight for independence and a hampered by political upheaval, Mexico had given little thought to its Texas territory. When they realized that the Texas colonists had little intention of assimilating into Mexican culture, it was too late.

As Fehrenbach notes:

“The Mexican mistake, beyond the original allowing of a large horde of self-discliplined, armed land seekers to cross the borders, was in permitting the Anglos to create, without hindrance, their own community within nominal Mexican territory.”

Stephen F. Austin would travel to Mexico to appeal the decree to a government still in flux and eventually did get Article 11 repealed in 1833 — just before he was imprisoned in solitary confinement at the ancient Prison of the Inquisition, according to Fehrenbach.

Other efforts by Mexico to put its stamp on Texas — collecting customs and garrisoning more troops (including convict conscriptees) there — helped fuel the fires of revolution. There were disturbances in Anahuac. A battle in Velasco.

By 1835, the Texas Revolution had begun.

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