Right Hooks

It Was Called 'Operation Wetback'

The Wall Street Journal forgets some history.

Mark Alexander · Aug. 19, 2015
Mexican officers guarding deportees

Clearly, not everyone is a fan of Donald Trump’s immigration plan. The Wall Street Journal, for example, is always eager to hammer the “nativists” and “restrictionists” who don’t buy into the Chamber of Commerce line on immigration. Of Trump’s plan, the Journal’s editorial board opined, “Trump’s [plan] may finally smoke out a real immigration debate within the GOP. Many restrictionists have claimed only to oppose immigrants who break the law in coming to the U.S. Now we’ll see how many join Mr. Trump in calling for mass deportation and walling off America to all newcomers. The last time Republicans tried this, in the 1920s, they alienated immigrant groups like the Irish and Italians for decades until Ronald Reagan won them back. If they want to lose in 2016, they’ll follow Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant siren.” Actually, the last time Republicans proposed and executed a mass deportation strategy was not the 1920s, but in 1954 under Dwight Eisenhower. And it worked. In the first year of “Operation Wetback,” there were 1,078,168 apprehensions and deportations. In the following years there were 250,000 and smaller numbers over each of the next 10 years. Clearly, nothing using the word “wetback” would be palatable in our politically correct era, and there are certainly legitimate arguments to be made for otherwise handling illegals who’ve been here for a long time. But somebody needs to do their research.

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