The death of Raymond Rodriguez, former columnist for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and educator with the Long Beach Unified School District, and his family history with illegal deportation of Mexican-Americans in the 1930s rekindles memories in our family.
Our dad was left a widower with five children; our mother died giving birth to the last two (twins) on Christmas Eve 1931. He fought the government’s attempt to place us in foster homes.
Then came the attempt to deport the family to Mexico. We missed the date of repatriation. The five of us came down with the mumps! Dad was told there would be another date. He was told to wait. We waited and waited and waited. We never heard again. (We are still waiting.)
The four boys served in the military, one at the end of World War II. He had quit high school at the end of 10th grade at the age of 16 and served on occupation duty in Austria. The other three served during the Korean War– two with the US Marines in some of the major battles: “Iron Triangle,” “Heartbreak Ridge,” “Punchbowl” and “The Hook.”
The World War II vet received a bachelor’s in history at CSU-LA in 1957. He taught at Banning High School, Wilmington, for 30 years and now 24 years as a substitute. His sons graduated from Millikan High School. Both were captains of their debate teams: one at Humboldt State, the other at CSULB, and [he also] attended Harvard Law School. His grandfather was a combat veteran in the Mexican Revolution with the forces of Pancho Villa and immigrated to the US in 1917. The family never asked him if he entered legally.
After 10 years as a professor of law at Boalt Hall, University of California, he was appointed dean of the law school, University of San Diego. In 2012, he was appointed dean of the law school, University of Northwestern.
Alvaro “Val” Rodriguez