In the New Spain period, vagrants and street people were perceived as a threat to the image that cities sought to project. For this reason, it was decided to punish vagrancy and idleness under the pretext that they were a latent danger to society. This is how the law of the levy arose, which allowed the apprehension and prosecution of these individuals to recruit them into the militia.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the large cities of the novo-Hispanic territory continued to be perceived as disastrous, disorderly, and, at times, even with a rather unhealthy image, either because of hygiene problems or because of the high number of people labeled as idle or vagrants, in addition to the already considered beggars who wandered through the cities and gave an aspect of social poverty.
For these reasons, since the viceregal era, vagrants were considered as individuals who broke the rules and caused great harm to society, as they were seen as potential subjects to commit crimes or indulge in vices, such as drinking, gambling, betting, and promiscuity.
For these reasons, measures were adopted to combat vagrancy as part of the reforms to the local population in the various urban centers. One of these measures was the military action known as "la leva", a practice that consisted of forced recruitment into the militia of New Spain to nourish the ranks of the army and strengthen the defense in the northern region of the territory.
As a consequence of this law, we find particular cases such as that of Domingo Ximenez, who, in 1806, in the town of Xonacantepec, the jurisdiction of Cuernavaca, was sent to the local authorities accused by the lieutenant of justice of that region for the crimes of "leisure, lazy and badly entertained", besides accusing him of an alleged vice with women, since he had harmed the marriage of an individual mentioned as "an honest neighbor". Given this accusation, Domingo was to be sent to prison, but due to his age and physical characteristics, he was considered a prime candidate to be recruited for a military regiment.
When the case arrived in Mexico City, it was requested that the prisoner be transferred to the capital city guarded by some guards to accompany him at all times in his transfer to the Royal Court, where he was informed that the crimes for which he was accused were irreversible and his sentence would be determined at the convenience of the Royal Court of Crime. Faced with this situation, Domingo Ximenez declared that he was guilty of all charges, asking that before any sentence was determined, he was inclined to be in the service of the militia, offering himself as a volunteer to the Regiment of Spanish Dragoons.
Faced with various cases such as that of Domingo Ximenez, in which it is possible to note a judicial process without investigation, proceedings, or witnesses, to avoid being recruited, vagrants and homeless people developed a strategy of resistance that consisted of moving from one point to another to avoid the investigations that were carried out in certain neighborhoods where they came to settle.
Source: General Archive of the Nation