November 24, 2014

Round ‘Em Up and Send ‘Em Back

It is argued that the “round ‘em up and send 'em back” solution to illegal immigration is not an option. Indeed, that would be very difficult given the fact that millions of illegal immigrants have been in the U.S. more than a decade, and most are very socio-economically integrated. But there was a successful round-up a half century ago. Mark Alexander first wrote about Dwight Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback” in his 2007 column insisting that border security must preclude any discussion about “immigration reform.” In 1954, illegal immigration across the Mexican border swelled the illegal population to almost three million. Ike cut off this traffic with a decisive policy and only about 1,000 Border Patrol agents – fewer than a tenth of the force now on our border – in an operation praised by veteran agents to this day. According to a 1954 New York Times article on illegal immigration, “The rise in illegal border-crossing by Mexican 'wetbacks’ 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.” Sound familiar? In June of 1954, Ike launched “Operation Wetback,” and in three months, agents arrested almost 150,000 illegals and sent them back deep into Mexico. Consequently, another 1.5 million illegals left the U.S. “voluntarily,” which is to say that, when enforcement got serious, illegals got the message. Veteran Border Patrol agent Walt Edwards notes, “Some say we cannot send 12 million illegals now in the United States back where they came from. Of course we can! … When we start enforcing the law, these various businesses are, on their own, going to replace their [illegal] workforce with a legal workforce.”

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