Trump Endorses ‘Operation Wetback’ At Republican Debate

During the Republican Debate Tuesday, candidate Donald Trump endorsed an Eisenhower era immigration policy which was responsible for forcibly deporting over 1 million undocumented workers. The policy was officially known as “Operation Wetback,” reports the Rolling Stone.

“Operation Wetback, a national reaction against illegal immigration, began in Texas in mid-July 1954. Headed by the commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service, Gen. Joseph May Swing, the United States Border Patrol, aided by municipal, county, state and federal authorities, as well as the military, began a quasi-military operation of search and seizure of all unauthorized immigrants,” reads a summary by the Texas State Historical Association.

Trump celebrated the success of the policy, after Gov. John Kasich criticized Trump’s plan to deport millions of migrant workers.

The operation itself was horrific, most of the migrants were detained and dragged from their homes, shipped back to Mexico aboard cargo boats. During a congressional investigation, it was discovered that the conditions aboard these cargo boats were similar to “18th century slave ships.” Others were simply dumped over the border and left in the desert without food or provisions. One such group saw 88 migrants die of sunstroke, many more would have perished if the Red Cross hadn’t intervened, reports the Rolling Stone.

“Some 88 [detainees] died of sun stroke as a result of a round-up that had taken place in 112-degree heat, and [an American Labor official argued that more would have died had the Red Cross not intervened. At the other end of the border, in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican labor leader reported that ‘wetbacks’ were ‘brought into Mexico like cows’ on trucks and unloaded fifteen miles down the highway from the border, in the desert,” NPR reports, citing a historical text about the policy titled Impossible Subjects.

Donald Trump Endorses Operation Wetback During Debate

“[Eisenhower] moved them way south; they never came back. Dwight Eisenhower. You don’t get nicer, you don’t get friendlier,” Trump said.

The mass deportations under Operation Wetback are considered by many historians to be a black mark on US history, on par with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“The Eisenhower mass deportation policy was tragic,” says Alfonso Aguilar of the American Principles Project, “Human rights were violated. People were moved to distant locations without food and water. There were many deaths, unnecessary deaths. Sometimes even U.S. citizens of Hispanic origin, of Mexican origin were removed. It was a travesty. It was terrible. Immigrants were humiliated. So to say it was a success story is ridiculous. It shows that Mr. Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

This morning commentators on both sides of the political spectrum came out against the policy Donald Trump formally supported during the Republican Debate.

Fox News’ own Geraldo Rivera sharply criticized Trump’s support after the debate.

“For any candidate to suggest that it will be a good thing to throw out not only law abiding hard working adults, millions of whom have been here for a decade or more, but also to throw out their citizen born children is reminiscent of ‘Operation Wetback,'” he wrote on Fox News today, “It would be an intolerable return to the bad, old days.”

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