This article examines the 1931 desegregation case based in Southeast San Diego County, Roberto Alvarez v. Lemon Grove Independent School District, through the lens of the deportation regime. This analysis reveals the ways new pressures from deportation-based immigration policies initiated in the 1920s complicated widely shared notions of transnational Mexicano identity and emphasized differences in nativity and citizenship status. The practice of apprehending individuals identified as “illegal aliens” took on a new form during the repatriation efforts of the Great Depression—removal. Within this new context, this article highlights the significance of the fact that working-class Mexican-origin migrant parents mobilized to demand educational equality for their children and to reject segregation. It illuminates how the Lemon Grove Mexican-origin community gave expression to a more expansive notion of their anti-segregation worldview than that found in the court ruling. They envisioned a community that was transnational and inclusive regardless of citizenship status, and they challenged segregation beyond mere claims to whiteness, critiquing inequality of resources with little reference to assimilationist goals.

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