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Dwight Eisenhower on Immigration

 


Operation Wetback: Use military to deport 1.3M Mexicans

In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower launched Operation Wetback, a shameful initiative to remove (often violently) thousands of undocumented workers--mostly Mexican nationals. In what has been described as a "quasi-military operation", border patrol agents, along with state and local law enforcement methodically targeted Mexican-Americans. The result was widespread fear and abuse.

It is estimated that 4,800 people were apprehended on the first day of the military operation. In the end, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) claimed as many as 1,300,000 were deported--many on their own out of fear. There were reports of beatings. Hundreds of families were torn apart. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Source: Fox News latino.foxnews.com OpEd , Mar 29, 2013

FactCheck: Operation Wetback deported 2.1M Mexicans, not 13M

A heavily-circulated email states:

"What did Hoover, Truman, and Eisenhower have in common? Hoover ordered the deportation of ALL illegal aliens in order to make jobs available to American citizens; Truman deported over two million Illegals after WWII to create jobs for returning veterans; then Eisenhower deported 13 million Mexican Nationals!"

Is it true? This distortion of history but has picked up momentum as the immigration debate has heated up again. This e-mail's message is bogus for all three presidents. Details:

Eisenhower did not deport 13 million Mexicans. Only 1/10 that number was ever claimed by the federal officials in charge of "Operation Wetback," and even that figure is criticized as inflated by guesswork. Officially, just over 2.1 million were recorded as having been deported or having departed under threat of deportation. None of these presidents presided over any general deportation campaign.

Source: FactCheck 2010: "Hoover, Truman & Ike: Mass Deporters?" , Jul 9, 2010

1955: Mexican border "secured" after Operation Wetback

Truman's successor pushed harder than Truman did, presiding over what was officially called "Operation Wetback," a vigorous, federally led effort to remove illegal Mexican immigrants from the Southwest. (The term "wetback" is a disparaging term applied to Mexicans who swam or waded across the Rio Grande River--and today is considered an ethnic slur.)

"Operation Wetback" lasted only a few months, deporting about 2.1 million Mexicans. It was announced June 9, 1954. It encompassed "mopping up" activities in northern cities as well, which removed 20,174 illegal Mexican aliens from industrial jobs.

The INS reported by 1955: "The so-called 'wetback' problem no longer exists. This is no longer, as in the past, a problem in border control. The border has been secured." More than half a century later, history has shown that official claim to be a fantasy.

Source: FactCheck 2010: "Hoover, Truman & Ike: Mass Deporters?" , Jul 9, 2010

Change immigration quotas to be less discriminatory

There is one sphere in which civil rights are inevitably involved in Federal legislation. This is the sphere of immigration.

It is a manifest right of our Government to limit the number of immigrants our Nation can absorb. It is also a manifest right of our Government to set reasonable requirements on the character and the numbers of the people who come to share our land and our freedom. It is well for us, however, to remind ourselves occasionally of an equally manifest fact: we are--one and all-- immigrants or sons and daughters of immigrants.

Existing legislation contains injustices. It does, in fact, discriminate. I am informed that it was realized, at the time of its enactment, that future study of the basis of determining quotas would be necessary.

I am therefore requesting the Congress to review this legislation and to enact a statute that will at one and the same time guard our legitimate national interests and be faithful to our basic ideas of freedom and fairness to all.

Source: Pres. Eisenhower's 1953 State of the Union message , Feb 2, 1953

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Immigration.
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Other past presidents on Immigration: Dwight Eisenhower on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

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Page last updated: Jan 06, 2014