I have been inundated recently by angry, upset and supportive forces of SB 1070. They have sent me forwarded emails about ‘three Presidents with guts’. Even friends of mine from high school are chipping away at me showing their support for SB 1070. Each and everyone of them has a right to express their opinion, thank God and thank our Constitution for that. But this is also the irony, because I support the Constitution as well, in fact it is one of my primary reasons for pointing out the weaknesses and inequities of SB 1070 so openly.
The tough talk and tough actions attributed to Presidents Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower regarding deporting illegal immigrants to ‘increase job availability’ made me curious. The pesky facts are:
Hoover- Mexican Repatriation – 1929 -1939
The Hoover Administration faced the horrors of the Great Depression by looking at any and all methods to cope with funding shortfalls and increasing employment. With large Mexican communities in states such as California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois and Michigan the campaign to ‘repatriate’ Mexicans began without Due Process, does this sound familiar?
Various sources claim anywhere from 1 to 2 million Mexicans were returned to their homeland during the 10 years this program was in effect. But the term “Repatriation” was actually inaccurate, as some statistics indicate approximately 60% of those sent back to Mexico were actually American citizens. But what the heck, the publicity was great and support was easily drawn to the notion we should ‘kick those scoundrels out’ and make jobs available for our good people. Hmm, this also has a ring of familiarity to it…
Truman –1951 – Stop Mexican farm workers
In response to a special commission (the President’s Commission on Migratory Labor) incepted by Truman, the President determined illegal farm workers were causing job shortages. In a letter to Congress 59 years ago (on July 13, 1951) Truman outlined his strategy to prevent Mexican farm workers from working in America. This effort is attributed to have deported some 3.4 million Mexicans.
Eisenhower – Operation Wetb_k – 1954
Seeking ways to find jobs for both WWII and Korean veterans Dwight Eisenhower instituted Operation Wetb__k. The derogatory expression, wetback, comes from the concept that Mexicans ‘swim the river’ to gain access to America. Apparently geography and facts were as irrelevant then as they are today.
In Operation Wetb__k Eisenhower is credited with deporting 2.1 million illegals.
But one of the primary issues regarding illegal workers was ignored by all three Presidents, the fact employers eagerly attracted and hired these workers, underpaid them and exploited them for profit.
Is deportation a viable alternative? It is certainly a legal alternative, but the issues are not as simple.
Now fast forward to Arizona, July 2010. State Senator Russell Pearce and State Representative John Kavanagh think they have found a better way of dealing with the influx of illegal immigrants: abolish “anchor babies” .
What are anchor babies? The term can be traced back to the children of Vietnamese immigrants who fled to America. Although the parents were not citizens, under the 14th Amendment, their offspring born on American soil were entitled to U.S. citizenship. Sen. Pearce and Rep. Kavanagh will propose to the Arizona Legislature a law that will challenge the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause.
In an interview with Tucson ABC affiliate KGUN TV, Governor Brewer stated: “It is illegal to trespass into our country. It has always been illegal, and people have determined that they want to take that chance. They can take their children back with them.”
Those in power learned long ago the importance of “winning” in the eyes of the public. Leaders have often preyed on the weak, the poor and now they have set their sights on children. It is a time-proven tactic, to use inflammatory and derogatory rhetoric. But does it serve our great State or this country we love so much to use terms like ‘wetb__k’ or ‘anchor baby’? Personally, I think not.