By Jose Angel Gutierrez
Originally published en espanol in La Estrella newspaper of Fort Worth, reprinted by permission of author.
I read several newspapers recently and pieced together a growing pattern across the country: deportation raids against Mexicans are with us again. The Border Patrol is not raiding plants and employers looking for illegal Asians or Africans or Canadians. The Border Patrol is only hunting for Mexicans. It is the hot topic.
This is nothing new but it is alarming as always. The human cost is terrible on the person deported, family, relatives, and especially children. The US has recruited Mexicans with one hand dating back to the beginning of 1910s. The US welcomed Mexican labor coming across fleeing the Revolution of 1910. The Border Patrol was not even in existence then. It came about in 1925.
In the 1920’s Mexicans were deported because they were forming labor unions in the US. Labor organizing in the US means communism to the business people and their hired politicians. US Attorney General Palmer deported many Mexicans in what he called the Palmer Raids.
During the Depression of the 1930s Mexicans were once again deported because we were taking jobs from “Americans” and asking for welfare. Everyone was looking for a job and welfare then but we were the scapegoats. When World War II broke out, the US needed labor and the Bracero Program began in 1942. We were welcomed then provided we worked like slaves for cheap wages and no benefits. The program lasted until 1964.
In the middle of the Bracero Program, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the deportation of Mexicans once again in the 1950s. The program was a military excercise called Operation Wetback. In the 1960s President Kennedy created the Alliance for Progress for Latin America and recognized all of us as Americans. In the US, white people believe they are the only Americans. But the Cuban Revolution broke out and again Mexicans were pushed out in favor of Cubans coming to the US.
In the 1970s President Reagan sent troops in to Central America and many refugees came to the US. In 1986 the US Congress attempted to legalize some immigrants and deport those that were not eligible. Since then, the Border Patrol has been on constant raid posture.
I am alarmed not at the deportations but at the new contract to build detention centers given to Halliburton Corporation, the company Vice President Cheney worked for before this position. The Halliburton subsidiary, KBR has received $385 million dollars to build more detention centers.
The press release from http://www.Halliburton.com reads: “the contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment exisiting ICE Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S. or to support the rapid deployment of new programs.”
In the middle of World War II, the US government ordered the arrest and detention of thousands Americans of Japanese ancestry because they might be disloyal to the US. The US government did not arrest Italians, Spaniards, or Germans and they were at war also. I wonder if the “rapid deployment of new programs” is an election plan before November to conduct massive raids and roundup thousands of Mexicans in a get-tough display of power?