History of “gasoline baths” at the border

gasoline baths at border
Early Mexican passports are rare to find nowadays. I have two fantastic examples in my collection, which you can see here. However, this article is not about passports but related. It’s about border management in the 1910s. A history I just discovered.

Mexican passport 1917 for three people
Mexican passport 1917 for three people
Fantastic Mexican Passport 1941 For A Beautiful Woman
Fantastic Mexican Passport 1941 For A Beautiful Woman

In 1917, American health officials launched a campaign to use harmful, often toxic chemicals to delouse immigrants seeking to enter the US-Mexico border. The same practice had caused a fire in an El Paso jail the year before and killed 27 people. 17-year-old Juárez maid Carmelita Torres refused to go through it, sparking a protest of thousands of Mexicans at the El Paso border. Although they briefly shut down the border, the campaign would continue for decades — and go on to inspire Nazi scientists. Gasoline baths at border

In Fevered Measures, John Mckiernan-González examines public health campaigns along the Texas-Mexico border between 1848 and 1942. He reveals the changing medical and political frameworks U.S. health authorities used when facing the threat of epidemic disease. The medical borders created by these officials changed with each contagion and sometimes varied from the existing national boundaries. Federal officers sought to distinguish Mexican citizens from U.S. citizens, a process troubled by the deeply interconnected nature of border communities. Mckiernan-González uncovers forgotten or ignored cases in which Mexicans, Mexican Americans, African Americans, and other groups were subject to—and sometimes agents of—quarantines, inspections, detentions, and forced-treatment regimens. baths at border


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