Japanese Americans in Early San Benito

Except for the 1st paragraph, the entire text for this project, as well as the photos, were taken from the book, The Japanese Texans by Thomas K. Walls. This is a school project and in no way meant to be of financial benefit.

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Known for their hard work, the Japanese-Americans who made their home in the Rio Grande Valley were honest and honorable people who lived in and around San Benito, sent their children to San Benito schools, and added to the Valley's & the state's economy. S.Tumberlinson

At the turn of the century there were 13 Japanese living in Texas. Forty years later, prior to World War II, there were about 500 Japanese in the state; by 1980 that number had risen to 10,502. While this may seem quite a substantial increase, Japanese Texans still constitute less than one-tenth of one percent of the total population of Texas. Also their numbers are growing quite slowly.

There are special reasons why the Japanese-Texan population is small. When the Japanese began coming to the United States more than a hundred years ago, there was considerable anti-Chinese prejudice among inhabitants of the West Coast. Soon unfavorable attitudes toward the Japanese developed as well and were eventually passed from one generation to the next.

In 1924 a growing anti-Japanese movement influenced the passage of the Johnson-Reed Act, a federal law which, in part, prohibited further immigration of Japanese to the United States. With the exception of war brides after World War II, Japanese were not allowed to settle in this country again until 1952, when Congress passed the McCarran-Walter Act.

Today, the Valley is an important agricultural region, but at the turn of the century it was little more than uncleared scrubland. All this began to change in the early 1900's when the railroad came and when land developers built irrigation canals running from the Rio Grande. By 1909 land which previously sold for $1 an acre was selling for $100 an acre.

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