Friday, September 02, 2016

"The Model for Trump's Immigration 'Solution' Was a Humanitarian Catastrophe"

"The Bracero Program was meant to be an alternative to undocumented immigration, but ended up providing a cover for it. Though there were between 200,000 and 450,000 braceros per year in the 1950s, farmers wanted more laborers—and the existence of a large number of braceros created communities where undocumented workers could also find work. And as large farms employed braceros, smaller farmers often turned to the undocumented to stay competitive. If braceros were shadow workers with nebulous rights, the hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers who came in the wake of the program existed as shadows of shadows. "Operation Wetback, initiated in 1954 and overseen by President Eisenhower's military pal, retired Major General Joseph M. Swing, had an ostensibly humanitarian rationale; social groups like churches and labor unions had been raising alarms about the exploitation of immigrant labor. But the most influential push came from farming interests who had created the problem. For them, it was a way to shut down proposed laws that would penalize them for hiring undocumented workers."

Jeet Heer at The New Republic warns against a revival of an infamous Eisenhower-era immigration policy.

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