Wed Oct 4, 2006 19:05

10/04/06 - The Charles Goyette Show"


The Border | 1953 Operation Wetback
What resulted was Operation Wetback, devised in 1954 under the supervision of new commissioner of the Immigration and Nationalization Service, Gen. ...

Operation Wetback
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Burgeoning numbers of illegal immigrants prompted President Dwight D. Eisenhower to appoint his longtime friend General Joseph Swing as INS Commissioner. According to Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr., Eisenhower had a sense of urgency about illegal immigration immediately when he took office. In a letter to Sen. William Fulbright, Eisenhower quoted a report in The New York Times that said: "The rise in illegal border-crossing by Mexican 'wetbacks' to a current rate of more than 1,000,000 cases a year has been accompanied by a curious relaxation in ethical standards extending all the way from the farmer-exploiters of this contraband labor to the highest levels of the Federal Government."

Eisenhower became increasingly concerned that profits from illegal labor led to corruption. An on-and-off guest-worker program for Mexicans was operating at the time, farmers and ranchers in the Southwest were becoming dependent on an additional low-cost labor. The operation was modeled after the deportation program which invited American citizens of Mexican ancestry to go back to Mexico during the Great Depression because of the bad economy north of the border.

The Operation

The operation began in California and Arizona and coordinated 1,075 Border Patrol agents along with state and local police agencies to mount an aggressive crackdown, going as far as police sweeps of Mexican-American neighborhoods and random stops and ID checks of "Mexican-looking" people in a region with many Native Americans and native Hispanics. Some 750 agents targeted agricultural areas with a goal of 1,000 apprehensions a day. By the end of July, over 50,000 aliens were caught in the two states. 488,000 people fled the country for fear of being apprehended. By September, 80,000 had been taken into custody in Texas, INS estimates that 500,000 to 700,000 illegals had left Texas voluntarily were not based on any evidence and were publicized as a scare tactic. To discourage reentry, buses and trains took many illegals deep within Mexico before being set free. Tens of thousands more were put aboard two hired ships, the Emancipation and the Mercurio. The ships ferried the aliens from Port Isabel, Texas, to Veracruz, Mexico, more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) south.


Operation Wetback deported approximately 80,000 Mexican nationals in the space of almost a year. Perceived heavy-handed methods led to accusation of police-state tactics. Some argue that this public reaction helped force the operation to end. The alternate theory is that as the economy to the north expanded the demand to deport decreased.



"The President and the Press" (April 27, 1961)
AUDIO: (mp3)

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