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How President Dwight Eisenhower Dealt With Illegal Immigration

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This is not the first time the US has dealt with an illegal immigration problem. Only last time it was dealt with in a decidedly swifter and sterner manner.

In 1955, thousands of disoriented illegals roamed the city’s streets as the sun bore down on them. They had just been deported there by American immigration officials.

These Mexican immigrants had been caught in the snare of Operation Wetback, the biggest mass deportation of undocumented workers in United States history. As many as 1.3 million people may have been swept up in the Eisenhower-era campaign, which was designed to root out undocumented Mexicans from American society.

There was not much in the way of sympathy for those who had crossed into the country illegally.

The operation used military-style tactics to remove Mexican immigrants.

In June of 1954, Eisenhower appointed retired General Joseph “Jumpin’ Joe” Swing to head “Operation Wetback,” which sent local and federal officials on sweeps of Mexican neighborhoods looking for illegals.

Within one month 50,000 illegals had been captured and deported, while nearly half a million more fled the country to avoid arrest. By September 80,000 more illegals had been removed from the state of Texas alone, and between 500,000-700,000 more had fled the country.

These illegals weren’t just dropped at the border; Swing arranged for buses and trains to take immigrants deep into Mexico before releasing them. Tens of thousands more were shipped by boat from Texas to Vera Cruz, Mexico.

With the help of the Mexican government, which sought the return of Mexican nationals to alleviate a labor shortage, Border Patrol agents and local officials used military techniques and engaged in a coordinated, tactical operation to remove the immigrants.

In 1953, Carter tried to get the National Guard involved in a forerunner of Operation Wetback,, but since the U.S. military is not supposed to be used to enforce domestic laws, he couldn’t gain authorization to do so. Instead, in 1954, the government introduced Operation Wetback, which used Border Patrol resources instead.

‘Ike’ took quick and decisive action. He used 1,075 Border Patrol Agents to seal the border. In doing so, he achieved a task our government today deems impossible with a force that is 10% larger. Once the border was sealed, Eisenhower went about the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens.


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