After Texas won its independence, most big Mexican land owners were either dead or left Texas for Mexico. In other words, there would have been no Don Diego to steal the land from: Tejas had already been stolen by illegal aliens.

For the better part of the next two centuries, it’s often been difficult to tell exactly who the illegal aliens have been. In the 1870s and 1880s, there was widespread smuggling and cattle theft by Mexicans and Americans across the borders from Texas to Arizona. But on the Arizona border, at least, the problem of cattle theft and the killing which invariably accompanied it involved American “cow boys” crossing into Mexico, if only because that’s where most of the cattle were. In the late 1870s the problem became so pervasive the Mexican government threatened war over what it called “Cowboy Depredations.” In Tombstone, U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp asked in vain for federal help to stem widespread theft and murder.

That scale of violence, though, paled in comparison with that of the so-called “Bandit Wars” which, between 1910 and 1920, cost the lives of hundreds of Mexican Americans. The ostensible cause for the ferocity were raids by Mexican rebels into Texas, which were intended by extremists to reclaim for Mexico land in two Texas counties whose inhabitants were almost exclusively of Mexican descent. But the root of the problem began earlier, around the turn of the century, when nearly 190,000 acres of land was taken from Tejanos by means legal and illegal and given to Anglos.