Ever since he began his presidential campaign Donald Trump has made xenophobia a cornerstone of his platform. He famously promised to build a wall along the entire US/Mexican border and send them the bill.
More recently he’s spoken about mass deportations of undocumented workers and families. Nobody knows how many there are, but most think it’s somewhere around 11 million men, women, and children. He justifies this by claiming it’s been done before, and done successfully.
As with many things Trump, he gets many of the details wrong and is vague on how he will accomplish it.
There was a program in 1954 called “Operation Wetback” that intended to deport large numbers of Mexicans in this country. Many of them came to the United States in the 1940s as part of the bracero program to fill agricultural jobs left vacant by U.S. forces fighting World War II. After the war ended the GI’s came back home and had to compete for jobs with the braceros.
It’s not hard to see where this went. The Mexicans, who were once needed, were now expendable and they were deported.
In an NPR interview, Alfonso Aguilar of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership provided some facts. He said this: “The Eisenhower mass deportation policy was tragic. Human rights were violated. People were removed 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 that’s a success story, it’s ridiculous. It shows that Mr. Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Even given this, he gives few details on how he will deport 11 million people. In a CNN article he explains that he will build a “deportation force” and they will do it humanely in 18 to 24 months. But NBC claims it will cost us between $100 and $200 billion dollars.
OK so assuming that he’s right, what’s the result? He and most of his fellow Republicans complain about the size of government and the national debt and yet he favors this expenditure. Interestingly enough we currently spend $76 billion on food stamps to ensure that nobody starves.
He also claims that deporting these 11 million will free up jobs for Americans. And so I ask you: how many of us are willing to pick crops, wash dishes, and mow lawns for minimum wage? I know I won’t.
I’ve spoken on this topic before but I’ll say it again: we all benefit because our ancestors did the jobs nobody else wanted. The people Donald wants to deport are the parents and grandparents of Americans who will lead our country in the last half of the 21st Century and the first half of the 22nd. They will make us proud.