Want to create some new job openings? This reminder is for those of you who don’t remember and say we can’t send them all back. Yes we can. We don’t need to address the “root cause” of the problem or provide “a road to citizenship” to people who broke the law by entering our country illegally.
Operation Wetback was a 1954 operation by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to remove about one million illegal immigrants from the southwestern United States, focusing on Mexican nationals.
Burgeoning numbers of illegal Mexican immigrants prompted President Dwight D. Eisenhower to appoint his longtime friends, John Cox and General Joseph Swing, as INS Commissioner. According to Attorney General Herbert Brownell, Jr., Eisenhower had a sense of urgency about illegal immigration upon taking office. In a letter to Sen. J. William Fulbright, Eisenhower quoted a report in The New York Times that said, “The rise in illegal border-crossing by Mexican “wetbacks” (rooted from the watery route taken by the Mexican immigrants across the Rio Grande) to a current rate of more than 1,000,000 cases a year has been accompanied by a curious relaxation in ethical standards extending all the way from the farmer-exploiters of this contraband labor to the highest levels of the Federal Government.”
The operation was modeled after a program that came to be termed the Mexican Repatriation, which put pressure on citizens of Mexico to return home during the Great Depression, due to the economic crisis in the United States.
The effort began in California and Arizona, and coordinated 1075 Border Patrol agents, along with state and local police agencies, to mount an aggressive crackdown. Tactics employed included going as far as systematic police sweeps of Mexican-American neighborhoods, and random stops and ID checks of “Mexican-looking” people in a region with many Native Americans and native Hispanics. In some cases, illegal immigrants were deported along with their American-born minor dependent children. This occurred despite the fact the children were, according to the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 14th amendment, citizens of the United States. Some 750 agents targeted agricultural areas with a goal of 1,000 apprehensions per day. By the end of July, over 50,000 immigrants were caught in the two states. An estimated 488,000 illegal immigrants are claimed to have left voluntarily, for fear of being apprehended. By September, 80,000 had been taken into custody in Texas, and the INS estimated that 500,000 to 700,000 had left Texas of their own accord. To discourage illicit re-entry, buses and trains took many deportees deep within Mexican territory prior to releasing them. Tens of thousands more were deported by two chartered ships, the Emancipation and the Mercurio. The ships ferried them from Port Isabel, Texas, to Veracruz, Mexico, more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) to the south. Some were taken as far as 1,000 miles.