The dark history of "gasoline baths" at the border

  • Published: 29 July 2019
  • An alarming US border policy forced fumigations on migrants at the US-Mexico border.

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    In 1917, American health officials launched a campaign to use noxious, often toxic chemicals to delouse immigrants seeking to enter at 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.

    For more reading, check out the links below:
    David Dorado Romo’s book, Ringside Seat to a Revolution:

    The Bracero History Archive:

    John Mckiernan-González’s book, Fevered Measures: Public Health and Race at the Texas -Mexico Border, 1848-1942:

    Alexandra Minna Stern’s book, Eugenic Nation:

    This is the second episode of our Missing Chapter series, where Vox producer Ranjani Chakraborty revisits underreported and often overlooked moments from the past to give context to the present. Join her as she covers the histories that are often left out of our textbooks. Our first season tackles stories of racial injustice, political conflicts, even the hidden history of US medical experimentation.

    Have an idea for a story that Ranjani should investigate for Missing Chapter? Send it to her via this form!

    Sign up for the Missing Chapter newsletter to stay up to date with the series:

    Explore the full Missing Chapter playlist, including episodes, a creator Q&A, and more! is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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Comments • 3 609

  • Nicola Port
    Nicola Port  4 hours back

    A little bit of context would be nice. This is before the time of widespread vaccinations, antibiotics, sterile hospitals, and sanitation. Epidemics were common, and resulted in high casualty rates, especially amongst children. Everything described is brutal but medicine was at the time. Conditions in hospitals just a few decades earlier were appalling for all classes and races. Children were still being shipped off to health camps in the 60s.

    • Nathalie _
      Nathalie _  6 hours back

      Considering I’m from El Paso wow just wow and I’ve never heard of this

        CYRAX KKCB2MO  9 hours back

        people blaming america which in actuality its the UN facts...

        • clobbyhops
          clobbyhops  11 hours back

          Was Monsanto involved in this also

          • Coneja Locs
            Coneja Locs  13 hours back

            This Breaks My Heart

            • Yani Singer
              Yani Singer  13 hours back

              Everyone always dismisses when something is compared to the holocaust.
              *comparing and equating aren’t the same thing*

              • ImThatReader
                ImThatReader  13 hours back

                Why aren't we being taught this in school????

                • Big Bird
                  Big Bird  14 hours back

                  Smells like the Bushes were involved somehow?

                  • Mischel Perez
                    Mischel Perez  14 hours back

                    This breaks my heart. 😭😭😭😭 I didn’t know about this. 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

                    • Libby Youmans
                      Libby Youmans  16 hours back

                      Omg I had no idea about that. Wow! Disturbing for sure. Thank you for sharing.

                      • Rhonda Remus
                        Rhonda Remus  17 hours back

                        Maybe we just need to start talking about what we need to do now instead of all the things that we have or have not done.can we all agree that it's time for change and change has to begin now I don't know how but it needs start. We need to stop relying on our government .

                        • Rhonda Remus
                          Rhonda Remus  17 hours back

                          first let's say the u.s. is not the American people so if there's things going on trust and believe it has nothing to do with the people's decision these are policies at the government

                          • Sanji Kun
                            Sanji Kun  24 hours back

                            Americans and Mexicans are both the descendants of colonialists Europeans. Anyone telling Mexicans go back to Europe? Cortez, Ramos Aztec or European names?

                            • Sal
                              Sal  1 days back

                              In school they’ve only thought us students here in California about European immigrants specifically Italians and East Europeans

                              • Walter Smith
                                Walter Smith  1 days back

                                Wake up Americans. We are all immigrants accept the Natives and look how they were treated by government.
                                Do you think you, us, or “we” make any difference to government?

                                • Sam Choy
                                  Sam Choy  1 days back

                                  Sterilization would make more sense .

                                  • Yudith Ortiz
                                    Yudith Ortiz  1 days back

                                    This breaks my heart

                                    • GmsProphecy truth
                                      GmsProphecy truth  1 days back

                                      Hispanics love the Caucasian race

                                      • Sanji Kun
                                        Sanji Kun  1 days back

                                        Hispanics are Caucasian.. Cortez, Ramos, these are European names.

                                    • Quelite Morado
                                      Quelite Morado  1 days back

                                      Superb documentary

                                      • Constance Gaun
                                        Constance Gaun  2 days back

                                        Look at American eugenics, and progressive, democrat racism.

                                        • Solder Joe
                                          Solder Joe  2 days back

                                          VOX now promotes a different more pure version of eugenics called identity politics. Same old racism nice shinny new definitions.

                                          • Becka Miller
                                            Becka Miller  2 days back

                                            For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you.
                                            Matthew 7:2

                                            • Judy Childs
                                              Judy Childs  2 days back


                                              • YsirTK
                                                YsirTK  2 days back

                                                We have Eugenicists in billionaire positions nowadays. Aka Bill Gates.

                                                • reesa beee
                                                  reesa beee  2 days back

                                                  Hey HOLLYWOOD..
                                                  HERE IS A SCRIPT BASED ON A REAL TRUE HISTORY

                                                  • SAVAGE KING
                                                    SAVAGE KING  2 days back

                                                    That’s right you don’t know if they have Ebola or killed someone

                                                    • John smith
                                                      John smith  3 days back

                                                      Why isn't this taught in Schools inside the United States?
                                                      The Atrocities committed by the White Man.

                                                      • Follower Ofchrist
                                                        Follower Ofchrist  7 hours back

                                                        aaliyah bx they don’t teach this in Pennsylvania.

                                                      • aaliyah bx
                                                        aaliyah bx  21 hours back

                                                        It is being taught.. what schools do yall go to

                                                    • Kerv D
                                                      Kerv D  3 days back

                                                      Rinse Wash Repeat of The United States of America dehumanization project.

                                                      • Jacey Martin
                                                        Jacey Martin  3 days back

                                                        Wow. Shocking but a the same time does not surprise me.

                                                        • vlonely 808
                                                          vlonely 808  3 days back

                                                          i think immortal technique raps about zychlon b

                                                          • John Hyndman
                                                            John Hyndman  3 days back

                                                            Close the border forever!

                                                            • Бедрич В Риос


                                                              • manbaerpigg
                                                                manbaerpigg  3 days back

                                                                arriba la raza!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                • Cody Irwin
                                                                  Cody Irwin  4 days back

                                                                  Am i the only person here that 100% understands that you can't just be inviting everyone over to live in your country? That only wanting the best and brightest will only enhances your overall society output capabilities? Don't invite parasites but symbiotic individuals. Or am i just completely wrong with my statement?....

                                                                  • Vintago
                                                                    Vintago  4 days back

                                                                    I used to think America had the most evil history and they try to hide it from us then I realize that belgians murdered more people than the Germans did... And they don't talk about that in schools.

                                                                    • Debra Wealth
                                                                      Debra Wealth  4 days back

                                                                      I can't cry because I am at work...this is heartbreaking...

                                                                      • Sandra Lemus
                                                                        Sandra Lemus  4 days back

                                                                        13:29 Idk maybe if you vaccinate your children you won't have to worry about being affected by it...

                                                                        • AsianAssassin 50
                                                                          AsianAssassin 50  4 days back

                                                                          Vox = I hate America and blame every issue on us.

                                                                          • Brie Russell
                                                                            Brie Russell  2 days back

                                                                            @Killo Alvarez That's more than enough to offend these people.

                                                                            The facts hurt their feelings, and the facts (as Ben Shapiro Boy Genius likes to say) do not care about their feelings.

                                                                          • Killo Alvarez
                                                                            Killo Alvarez  2 days back

                                                                            No, they are just saying the history of the country, so people can know about it

                                                                          • Brie Russell
                                                                            Brie Russell  4 days back

                                                                            Not at all what they said, which is a shame because hating America and blaming it for everything is absolutely the only correct position to take.

                                                                        • That guy
                                                                          That guy  4 days back

                                                                          America doesn't apologize.

                                                                          • D 1
                                                                            D 1  4 days back

                                                                            If there was ever a case for worst human beings on the planet you can sum it up with the American government. And the paranoia of white people.

                                                                            • Angel Miranda
                                                                              Angel Miranda  4 days back

                                                                              Whoa this is some knowledge

                                                                              • Rave
                                                                                Rave  4 days back

                                                                                how dare America protect its population

                                                                                • Krxsty_. w0rld
                                                                                  Krxsty_. w0rld  4 days back

                                                                                  Or in other words US doesn’t like “others”

                                                                                  • Ray Bokor
                                                                                    Ray Bokor  5 days back

                                                                                    stunned beyond belief . keep these documentaries coming

                                                                                    • Kiritu George
                                                                                      Kiritu George  5 days back

                                                                                      Me: The U.S.A has a very dark history
                                                                                      Troll: Every country has a dark past
                                                                                      Me: Thankyou for your whataboutism. It justifies the dark history of U.S.A so much more.

                                                                                      • Sijimon Ramachandran
                                                                                        Sijimon Ramachandran  5 days back

                                                                                        As we know the food chain is very delicate, and if we remove one link from the chain, there will be a dominos effect. In the name of hygiene and pest, we remove a lot of links. lets wait and watch how this is going to back fire.

                                                                                        • Brian S
                                                                                          Brian S  5 days back

                                                                                          I'm avoiding this video like the plaque

                                                                                          • Ash Wednesday
                                                                                            Ash Wednesday  5 days back

                                                                                            Yep...sounds like America