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Hullabaloo


Thursday, November 12, 2015

 
Trump's legacy is already evident

by digby

I must confess that I'm a little bit surprised that so few journalists seem to have been familiar with "Operation Wetback" or that Donald Trump had been extolling its virtues on the campaign trail for months. I guess they don't actually listen to what he's saying.

Anyway, I wrote a little piece about if for Salon today:

The latest Economist/YouGov poll reveals that Donald Trump is viewed as the GOP candidate Republicans trust most to handle immigration. What’s more, the margin by which they prefer him is extremely wide, and it’s grown substantially since he entered the race in July:
In the debate on Tuesday, Trump reiterated the plan which half of Republicans in the U.S. support. He promised to build a wall along the nearly 2,000 mile border and to make Mexico pay for it. He also once more committed to rounding up and deporting all illegal immigrants. As he has in the past, he referenced President Eisenhower’s program from the 1950s, fatuously insisting that it must be “nice” since everybody “liked Ike,” even as he assiduously avoided calling the plan by its name: “Operation Wetback.”
Here’s Trump’s exact quote from the debate:
Let me just tell you that Dwight Eisenhower, good president, great president, people liked him. “I like Ike,” right? The expression. “I like Ike.” Moved a 1.5 million illegal immigrants out of this country, moved them just beyond the border. They came back.
Moved them again beyond the border, they came back. Didn’t like it. Moved them way south. They never came back.
(LAUGHTER)
Dwight Eisenhower. You don’t get nicer. You don’t get friendlier. They moved a 1.5 million out. We have no choice. We have no choice.
The hearty laughter at that reprehensible tale certainly confirms those poll findings. He sounds as though he speaking of animals not human beings. And it would cruel to do that to animals.
Under questioning from Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Wednesday’s “Morning Joe,” Trump explained that he would have to create a “deportation force” to round up all these people, and has said before that it would have to include a number of American citizens, the children of these undocumented workers, because we can’t be expected to take care of them. Also, it would be cruel to separate families. Just like Ike, he is so gosh darned nice.
When Trump made his comments during the debate Chuck Todd tweeted this:

We don’t know if Todd included himself in that group but it’s a sad comment on journalism if any reporters didn’t know about Operation Wetback and even sadder that they didn’t know that Donald Trump has been saying this throughout his campaign. It is part of his standard stump speech, nothing new about it at all. I mentioned it hereThe Washington Post reported on it back in September:
In Mexicali, Mexico, temperatures can reach 125 degrees as heat envelops an arid desert. Without a body of water nearby to moderate the climate, the heavy sun is relentless — and deadly.
During the summer of 1955, this is where hundreds of thousands of Mexicans were “dumped” after being discovered as migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Unloaded from buses and trucks carrying several times their capacity, the deportees stumbled into the Mexicali streets with few possessions and no way of getting home.
This was strategic: the more obscure the destination within the Mexican interior, the less opportunities they would have to return to America. But the tactic also proved to be dangerous, as the migrants were left without resources to survive.
After one such round-up and transfer in July, 88 people died from heat stroke.
At another drop-off point in Nuevo Laredo, the migrants were “brought like cows” into the desert.
Among the over 25 percent who were transported by boat from Port Isabel, Texas, to the Mexican Gulf Coast, many shared cramped quarters in vessels resembling an “eighteenth century slave ship” and “penal hell ship.”
These deportation procedures, detailed by historian Mae M. Ngai, were not anomalies. They were the essential framework of Operation Wetback — a concerted immigration law enforcement effort implemented by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954 — and the deportation model that Donald Trump says he intends to follow.
This was not the first deportation program in America, of course. During the Red Scare of the early part of the 20th century the government deported numbers of those they determined were “subversives.” But we started deporting Mexicans in large numbers starting in the 1920s, and it didn’t stop for decades.
They didn’t call it deportation, though. They called it “repatriation,” and it happened under programs first enacted by Herbert Hoover, FDR and under various state and local officials during the 1920s and 30s. It was driven by the varying needs of the agriculture business and the political necessity for scapegoating at times of economic distress. One of their methods in these instances was to make frightening announcements of pending raids and arrests in order that the immigrant labor would “self-deport.”  But the raids actually took place with harassment, beatings, family separation commonly used as methods to create terror among the population.
In 2005, California became the first state to offer an official apology for this inhumane policy. The federal government has never bothered.

There's more ugly history at the link, some of it quite shocking.

I noticed this morning that Luke Russert and Tamron Hall both refused to use the word "Wetback" when describing Eisenhower's program. This is a big mistake. People need to know exactly what they called Donald Trump's "nice, humane, 'I like Ike'" program. It brings the reality of what he's talking about right home. His voters won't care. They probably like it. But normal people will recognize it for what it is.

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