Political Refugees in South Texas
The following image is from the Sherman C. Kile papers. The United States government tasked Kile with compiling an assessment of the “General Mexican Situation,” which encompassed both sides of the border and included documentation of Mexican refugees living in Southern Texas cities. The photo included here documents Mexican refugees residing in Laredo, Texas. Kile's report includes the refugee's prior occupation, faction they supported, and in some cases, an indication of whether or not they were 'important.' Kile does not define in his report what important means, but one can speculate that it means important in relation to their prior profession. The documentation of these refugees conveys an awareness on the part of the United States government of how the arrival of new, politically experienced refugees could do much to influence the transformation of Tejano discourse and activism. With U.S. law prohibiting the sale of arms and supplies to revolutionaries, there was a growing concern that these refugees would agitate unrest on the American side of the border. Particularly unrest from Tejano communities who were viewed as the group most suspected of transmitting the chaos of revolution on the American side of the border.
Such unrest was not an unfounded concern. Kile documents many of the indictments to violate American neutrality laws against Mexican Americans and Mexican refugees. The image included here shows the indictment of several individuals. Kile’s meticulous documentation of the revolutionary bases of activity in border cities highlights how new ideas of activism and political participation were being injected into the Tejano community. The political consciousness of Tejano communities was diversified and disrupted by these new revolutionary arrivals and their activities.
Similarly, Kile records indictments that occurred in cities other than Laredo, such as San Antonio and El Paso. In the case of El Paso,not only were defendants accused of violating trade neutrality laws, but defendants were also charged with conspiracy to instigate a military expedition. This particular charge conveys a fear on the part of U.S. officials that Tejanos would potentially become a revolutionary fifth column for Mexican generals Villa or Caranza that would rampage across the U.S. side of the border, unleashing the same kind of violence that was occurring in Mexico.