Trump’s Model For His Deportation Plan Was Called “Operation Wetback”

Last night’s Republican debate was boring as hell. I am already sick to death of all of these people and listening to them try to discuss serious subjects like the economy and foreign policy was actually less riveting than the Muzak version of Mr. Big’s “To Be With You” that I heard at the grocery store while getting a bottle of wine beforehand.

Most of it was just the usual bullshit. Ben Carson wrongly claiming that employment always goes down when the minimum wage is raised, Carly Fiorina going on about her three-page tax code, and a lot of rich people insisting that if we lower taxes for rich people, they will totally give more jobs to poor people.

Not to mention Marco Rubio’s weird swipe at people wanting a college education by going on about how we need more welders than philosophy majors, noting that welders make more money than philosophy majors.

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Which isn’t actually true! Not that there’s anything wrong with being a welder–be a welder if you want! But if you want a college education you should be able to have that as well.

However, the big moment of the evening, for me at least, was when Donald Trump endorsed a 1950s program called, I shit you not, Operation Wetback.

Now, you may have missed this, because he didn’t actually use the term. He just said the following, referring to it as President Eisenhower’s deportation program:

People liked him. I liked Ike. [That’s the] expression. ‘I Like Ike.’ Moved a million and a half illegal immigrants out of this country, moved them just beyond the border: They came back. Moved them again, beyond the border: They came back. Then moved them way south. They never came back.

First of all, that wasn’t a expression, it was a campaign slogan. But anyway, Eisenhower’s deportation program is really, really not something you want to refer to as having been a great success. It was not! It was a human rights disaster. Which should not be surprising because things just don’t really usually go well when you’re “rounding people up.”

People died, they were treated inhumanely, their civil rights were violated. There were reports of immigration officers “collecting fares” from the people they deported. Most of the people who were deported were just sent to random places where they didn’t know anyone and had no way of getting back to, or in touch with, their families — often with no way of getting their property back from the U.S. Sometimes they just left them in the desert to die. They were treated cruelly by border patrol officers who thought it was a good policy to shoot a few of them so that they others would think twice about coming back. It was a horrible, horrible program, which is largely considered to be quite the blemish on our human rights record. This, in addition to the absurdly racist name, is why you probably haven’t heard a lot about it.

Now, not only did they violate the human rights of undocumented immigrants, but a pretty good amount of the 3.7 million people that were reported were actually U.S. citizens of Mexican descent, or bracero workers here legally. We don’t have the exact numbers on that because out of that 3.7 million, “only 63,500 were removed through formal deportation proceedings.” You see, in their excitement to to quickly deport millions of people, a lot of things got really screwed up.

If this doesn’t bother you for some reason, here’s another thing to consider — Mexico actually supported that program. They needed those laborers to grow their own economy. As much as The Donald might want to pretend that “Mexico’s gonna pay for this wall” and whatnot, we don’t have a situation right now where this benefits Mexico the way conservatives believe it benefits us.

It’s also going to cost us way more money than it’s worth. The cost of deporting every undocumented immigrant living in this country right now would be $400-600 billion over the course of 20 years. It’s really not a feasible or responsible plan, and it’s not going to get Americans the jobs they need. Quite frankly, most of the jobs available to undocumented immigrants are not jobs that pay particularly well.

You wanna bring jobs back to America? Impose a huge ass tax on companies that are outsourcing. Make it illegal for any American company to use child labor. Outsourcing is a far bigger problem for our economy and our jobs situation than undocumented immigrants are. You’re not going to “bring back” manufacturing jobs to the United States unless you make it really unappealing to use sweatshops and child labor in other countries.

Donald Trump is telling a lot of people what they want to hear. He’s relying on their ignorance and their desire to see someone be punished for the fact that their life hasn’t turned out the way they thought it would. At the end of the day, though, he can’t actually give them what he’s promising, and even if he could, they wouldn’t turn out the way these people are hoping.