Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"A Campaign of Fear against Immigrants"

"What the newsreels didn't show were those same detainees, now with shaved heads, crammed onto trains or trucks bound for the middle of the desert, where they were left 15 miles across the Texas border on the highway. A leader with the largest Mexican labor organization (Confederación de Trabajadores de México) described the transportation of these deportees as being like 'truckloads of cows.' In one instance, near Mexicali, across the California border, 88 deportees died of exposure in the 112-degree heat. Others—about a quarter of those deported—were shipped to Mexico by boats from Port Isabel, Texas. Congressional investigators, historian Mae Ngai has written, likened the boats 'to an "eighteenth century slave ship."' The press coverage also failed to capture the many instances in which immigrants were roughed up, detained, and summarily deported without due process, often with no chance to notify their families that they had been swept up in raids on factories, fields, boarding houses, and even the same movie theaters that showed the newsreels. Mexican Americans had to prove that they belonged. INS agents dismissed the legitimacy of draft cards or Social Security cards, insisting on birth certificates, which few people carried around on their person. Mexican Americans who couldn't produce birth certificates quickly enough were deported."

Louis Hyman and Natasha Iskander in Slate revisit the mass deportations carried out by the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s.

Add Slate republishes Dahlia Lithwick and Laurel Reiman Henneman's 2015 article on Japanese-American internment during World War II.

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