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Operation Wetback

12 November 2015

Dara Lind, writing for Vox, has done a bang-up job of going into the background of “Operation Wetback” … the overly hyped (by the overly-hyper Donald Trump) “round-up” of Mexican migrants in the U.S…. the largest mass deportation in U.S. history:  maybe.

Inspection of Braceros - Braceros being inspected as they enter the United States, 1956

Inspection of Braceros – Braceros being inspected as they enter the United States, 1956

Rather than repeat what Lind says, I recommend reading her article, with the following additional bit of information that is often overlooked:

b2The Bracero Program was a war-time measure by Mexico to support the allies with manpower that would free up other men for military duty.  Because of the war, and Mexican support for the allies, the country was rapidly expanding industrial production, and… after the way… state policy favored industrial development and expanded commercial agriculture. During the War itself, as in the United States, women who had never been considered part of the work-force were hired in huge numbers.

Officially, Mexicans who were willing to fill jobs in the U.S. during the war were required to have a letter from their Presidente Municipal specifying that they were single men, for whom no work was available locally.  However, on the US side, employers (especially commercial farmers) were also facing a labor shortage, and would just “assume” any Mexican worker who showed up was a Bracero, and … of course… word got back that there was work in the US, so people otherwise not eligible for the official program went anyway.

b1Post-war, the popularity of working in the United States (generally as a temporary way to augment family income at home) continued (both for Mexican workers, and for U.S. employers), and — as in the U.S. — the women factory workers were let go… creating a perceived labor shortage for Mexican employers.  Coupled with this, the Mexican Foreign Secretariat considered the “official” Braceros worthy of their concern (and Mexican consuls were demanding U.S. employers and the U.S. government protect the labor rights of those workers), Mexican nationals who were not in the official program were considered “disloyal” to the Republic, and received no protection from their government.

Read it!

Operation Wetback, the 1950s immigration policy Donald Trump loves, explained

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 10 January 2017 7:08 pm

    Ebook (2017) about “Operation Wetback”:

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