Whatever Happened to the Santa Ana Four?

Orange County seethes with immigration raids, demonized Mexicans and appeals for amnesty. 2007? No, 1951

Morales says the Espinozas quickly became the subject of ridicule in the tight-knit Cypress Street barrio because of Elias' Communist affiliation. "They disappeared for a long time," he says. "I'll tell you the truth: I don't think anyone knew where they went. I don't know whether they went to Mexico, or they were here in Southern California. I don't think anyone does."

A couple of years ago, Morales attended a high school reunion for his graduating class. "They called out all of us, and we stood up to be recognized. Then they mentioned Carlos Espinoza. I didn't recognize him, but I remembered the name. We hadn't spoken since the 1950s. I asked him, 'You know who I am?' 'No, I don't know who you are,' he said. I told him who I was. He started laughing. We sat down to talk." Morales says Espinoza claimed he was a professor at Cal State Fullerton, but university archives don't show him as having taught there.

"He and I were pretty good buddies," Morales says. "But he never came back to the reunions, and I never spoke to him again."

Elias Espinoza and Justo Cruz.
Elias Espinoza and Justo Cruz.

Philip Colin also attended school with some of the Espinozas. After Elias' deportation, Colin says, Consuelo moved her children to another house in Orange and worked to support them. "She was a friendly woman, but she always seemed tired," Colin says. "The children graduated from college and just spread out. You heard about them from time to time, but not that much."

Philip's brother Bob has stronger memories of the Espinozas; his brother-in-law married Henna, Elias' oldest daughter. Bob, who still lives in Orange County, doesn't recall Henna or any of her brothers ever discussing their father's deportation. "He ended up moving to Tijuana and died just a couple of years ago," he says. "I never heard the kids really talk about him. They were all pretty smart. One became a minister, a couple of others became correctional officers; I think [Carlos] is a musician in Corona."

Henna Espinoza now lives in Connecticut; she refused to comment for this story.

Ladislao Cruz, Justo's son, died in 2000 and left two sons, Randolph and Justus. Justus now lives in Pflugersville, Texas, and did not return repeated calls from the Weekly; Randolph's whereabouts are unknown.

As for Esparza and Gonzales, no one interviewed for this story had heard of the two, nor are there any death certificates on file in the Orange County Record/Clerk's office.


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