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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

 
"Very nice and humane" deportation

by digby


Chuck Todd has not been paying attention to what Donald Trump actually says which I think may be one of the problems with political journalism in general. Last night he tweeted this:


I knew about Operation wetback oh ... for decades, so when Trump said this on the trail I wrote about it:

While Ronald Reagan also used the slogan “Make America Great Again” when he ran for president, his vision was much more upbeat and optimistic than Trump’s, which harkens back to paleoconservative candidates like Pat Buchanan and his “Pitchfork Brigade”. Indeed, it centers around “getting rid of bad people” which is not what most people think of as morning in America. Last week he even explicitly went back to the 1950s and evoked the Eisenhower era program “Operation Wetback,” which he characterized on “60 Minutes” as “very nice and very humane.” (It wasn’t.) He said “Did you like Eisenhower? Did you like Dwight Eisenhower as a president at all? He did this. He did this in the 1950s with over a million people, and a lot of people don’t know that…and it worked.”

He elaborated at his rallies later in the week:

“You know, Dwight Eisenhower was a wonderful general, and a respected President – and he moved a million people out of the country, nobody said anything about it. When Trump does it, it’s like ‘whoa.’ When Eisenhower does it, ‘well that was Eisenhower, he’s allowed to do it, we can’t do it.’

That was also in the ’50s, remember that. Different time, remember that.

That’s when we had a country. That’s when we had borders; you know, without borders you don’t have a country, essentially. We don’t have a country. Without borders, you just don’t have it.

But Dwight Eisenhower, this big report, they used to take them out and put them on the other side of the border and say, ‘you have to stay here.’ And they’d come right back, and they’d do it again and again, so they said ‘Wait a minute, this doesn’t work.’ And they took them out and moved them all the way South; all the way. And they never came back again; it’s too far. Amazing.

And I’m not saying this in a joking way — I’m saying this happened. It wasn’t working, they were coming back, and then they literally – literally – moved them all the way. A lot of the politicians – they never came back, it was too far. They’d put them on boats and move them all the way down South, and that was it.”

Needless to say reporters didn't have to read Eisenhower's biography to know any of this. The Washington Post had this just a month ago:

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.

It's a small thing, but it's disheartening that the GOP front-runner is running on this policy in 2015 and reporters wouldn't be aware of what he's saying.


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