Between 1929 and 1939, the United States deported between half a million and two million Mexicans. Among them were hundreds of thousands of American citizens, born here, which was both then and now completely illegal. They were hunted in the streets of Los Angeles and other cities. They were taken to concentration camps. The trains left full to the border and returned empty.
The deportation of the 1930s was the fruit of hatred and racism.
In 1954, under President Dwight Eisenhower, the United States deported 1.3 million Mexicans. Among them, also, thousands of Mexican Americans, American citizens. They were also taken to concentration camps, from where they were expelled on buses, ships and airplanes.
Some died along the way or as soon as they reached Mexican places they did not know, due to heatstroke, illness or violence. This inglorious operation was called Operation Wetback, the derogatory epithet used to designate undocumented Mexicans (the term was born in Texas and referred to those who crossed the Rio Grande to reach the United States).
The deportation of 1954 was a result of hatred and racism
That same year, the Ellis Island immigrant processing center, through which more than a million immigrants from Europe passed since 1892, was closed in New York.
According to professor and historian Francisco Balderrama, from whom I studied at Cal State Los Angeles, 60% of them were Mexican Americans. The rest, the vast majority, had arrived as part of the Bracero program. That is, they were legal workers.
Between February 1942 and the end of World War II, the United States imprisoned 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans – again, many American citizens illegally aprehended- under unfounded but repeated suspicions that they were spies for the enemy. Only Japanese: nothing happened to German or Italian immigrants (of French, or other nationalities that collaborated with Nazism). The concentration camps housed the families until shortly before the end of the war. When they returned to their homes, they found them looted, destroyed or directly in the hands of strangers. It took years until in 1988 a Republican president, Ronald Reagan, recognized the barbarity of the act and asked for forgiveness. The Supreme Court of Justice, initially resisting, and then, too late, had done the same.
The concentration of Japanese in detention camps was the fruit of hatred and racism.
Donald Trump is currently the candidate most likely to win next November’s presidential election. For the purposes of this article, we will bet that it is November 6 and that Joe Biden concedes Trump’s victory.
For his second presidency, he will arrive much better prepared than in his chaotic first. He and his minions, also based on hatred and racism against non-whites, have developed a similar plan. Whether undocumented or legal, the plan, methodical and cruel, targets Central Americans and Mexicans who come to live here. As in previous times, there is no reaction nor protest. Not even from the Democratic party, much less within the Republican party, which is at the feet of the would-be dictator.
The magnate’s speech is calibrated to awaken howls of support from the massive audience brought upon images of strength and ferocity. They, in turn, excite him, instill in him the joy at being adored, venerated, and then he repeats what he was perhaps reading until now, and gesticulating, adorns and increases it, inventing data that does not exist and scattering insults to anyone. side.
On “Day One”, as soon as he assumes presidential power, Trump tells them, he will begin the largest deportation in the country’s history. Only on that day, he said in an interview, he will “misuse his powers”.
There is a plan, and it’s underway and it’s detailed and calibrated and budgeted and debated among Trump’s advisers.
On the path to expulsion from the country, the plan establishes gigantic concentration camps near the Texas-Mexico border, from which detainees will be transferred to nearby airports for expulsion flights or taken to the other side directly in military trucks.
Among them will be the almost million young people until now protected by the DACA program established by President Obama: they are those who arrived in their childhood, with the help of their parents who were undocumented; those who grew up here and believe that they are Americans in everything but on paper. Upon taking office, President Trump will be assured that this time, the Supreme Court will uphold his decision.
I stop here to comment that if anyone thinks that those camps will be} only for immigrants who are here illegally, please think again. There will be legal immigrants and other groups of the population that he does not like: Muslims, for example. Women who had abortions, for example. And it is just the beginning. History does repeat itself, if we allow it.
Trump has already announced that he will renew his ban on entry into the country for people from Muslim-majority nations. That he will use the right conferred by the passage of the law called Title 42 to reject asylum applications by stating that migrants carry tuberculosis or other infectious diseases.
While he will significantly expand the staff of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), he will fill its ranks with federal agents reassigned from other agencies.
But the implementation of the plan will not be possible without the cooperation – without the active help – of the governors of red states, who will “donate” soldiers from their National Guard for this operation, and of mayors and county supervisors, who will send police and sheriff’s deputies.
No Congress, no problem
Another thought: No, they will say, Congress is not going to accept such atrocity. Even if it were in the hands of the Republicans and especially if any of the Houses were controlled by the Democrats. They will simply say, they will not approve funds for this.
Well, it is not necessary for them to approve anything. The gray eminences behind these plans will use presidential authority to use military funds, coming from the Pentagon budget. They already did it once, in 2018. No Congress, no problem.
And yes, it may be that Congress rejects anti-immigrant law proposals. But this plan, its author Stephen Miller has said, does not need them, because it is based entirely on existing legislation.
The New York Times adds these details: “In a second Trump presidency, the visas of foreign students who participated in anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian protests would be canceled. U.S. consular officials abroad will be ordered to expand ideological screening of visa applicants to block people the Trump administration considers to have undesirable attitudes. “People who were granted temporary protected status because they are from certain countries deemed unsafe, allowing them to live and work legally in the United States, would have that status revoked.”
For those whose stay in the country had been allowed while their asylum applications are processed, their applications will be rejected and they will be expelled immediately. This includes, says the morning newspaper, tens of thousands of Afghans who arrived in the country when the US occupation collapsed and who had collaborated with the previous government, opposed to the Taliban that governs today.
And what else? The Trump administration will issue a new interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which grants U.S. citizenship to everyone born here. Starting in 2025, the children of undocumented immigrants will also be considered undocumented, illegal. They will not be able to receive Social Security cards as they have until now. Outside.
Once again, they will say that it is impossible for the judges, from local to federal to the Supreme Court, to agree with the henchmen of the next government, which will impose adherence to the Constitution, to the laws that govern our lives. . They forget that Trump has managed to install an ultra-conservative supermajority on the highest court, and that he has appointed, in the four years of his government, 235 judges, including 54 who serve on the appeals courts. All were approved by the Senate.
He thinks he has them all up his sleeve and that’s probably true.
The next government’s plans are already operational
They are written as executive statements; The personnel to direct this process without precedent in the history of the country is being chosen, interviewed, nominated, hired.
Will we see immigration raids on the streets of our cities in a year? The answer is positive: it is an integral and important part of the project, due to its ability to terrorize the immigrant population. Only this time raids will be the norm, more frequent than in the past and even carried out with the collaboration of armed white supremacist groups.
Yes, the plan may spark an outcry from millions of opponents who will understand that by protecting immigrants they will protect themselves. Perhaps it is even possible for the Supreme Court to wake up before the nature of the state changes. But to ensure this doesn’t happen, Donald Trump cannot be president of the United States.
This article is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.
Founder and co-editor of Latino Los Angeles. Editor Emeritus of La Opinion, former Editor-in-Chief. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a journalist, columnist, blogger, poet, novelist, and short story writer. Was the editorial director of Huffington Post Voces. Editor-in-chief of the weekly Tiempo in Israel. Is the father of three grown children and lives with Celia and with Rosie, Almendra and Yinyit in Los Angeles.