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It was just 104 years ago today, July 12, 1917, when striking miners, their supporters, and witnesses were deported from Bisbee, Arizona, to New Mexico, with many of them settling in Columbus, New Mexico. As the War to End all Wars continued to rage in Europe, things weren’t the greatest for labor in America, and strike after strike not only hurt the country, but the war effort as well, and with Wilson’s administration cracking down on any dissent, any insult was met with injury.
Phelps Dodge, the mining company in Bisbee, took a note from history on how to deal with the more than 1,300 strikers. Earlier in the month, miners in Jerome had gone on strike, and vigilantes rounded them up and deported them to California. When no one stood up for the miner’s cause, this gave the mining company the go ahead to order more than 2,000 deputized law men to round up and deport the miners. The strikers and their supporters were sent to New Mexico, and eventually many settled in refugee camps on the border near Columbus that had been set up for Mexicans fleeing the fighting with Poncho Villa. Though the government looked at the case, and several arrests of the mining company executives were made, in the end, the government sided with the vigilantes, sheriffs, and companies, and no major charges were brought.