Analysis by Reporting San Diego
Sep 6, 2017 (San Diego) “Make America Great Again,” is code, has been code, for make the country white again. This is exactly what Donald J Trump ran on. He, and many on the far right, want a country that is gone, and has been gone for decades. They blame immigrants for the loss of jobs, and for flat wages. They blame multiculturalism for the ills of society, and a crime wage that is not existent.
In short, this decision is part of the white supremacy that permeates official policy in the White House. It is not just ending the Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but also the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
However this is not the first time that the United States does this to immigrant communities, and every time it has been driven by deep racism that exists just under the surface. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was driven by a need to exclude people who were brought to the United States to build the western railways.
There is a Chinese-Mexican community that lives in the Baja region, that hails from this era. People were taken to the border and driven across the border to Mexico. If you ever wondered where the Chinese cuisine in Tijuana came from, that is your answer. For the record, some of the best Chinese restaurants are in Tijuana.
During the Great Depression era upwards of 2 million Mexican Americans were expelled from the United States. About half of them were American citizens, born in the United States. So we are not even talking of just foreign nationals here.
Then in the 1950s, after the Holocaust was over in Europe, and international law did forbid mass deportations under the Geneva Convention of 1949, which the U.S is a signatory. The United States did this again, with Operation Wetback. This came from deep fears that workers coming to pick lettuce, fruits and other agricultural fears were a fifth column.
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.
Cold war paranoia also fueled Operation Wetback. In 1954, Teamster Magazine complained that “more than 100 Communists a day are coming across the sparsely patrolled border.” Eisenhower’s attorney general, Herbert Brownell Jr., tried to shoot those rumors down, noting that while it was theoretically possible there might have been subversives crossing the border, there was absolutely “no evidence” of it. A similar lack of evidence has not, of course, stopped Trump from articulating the twenty-first-century equivalent of that conspiracy theory, peddling rumors of terrorists crossing the Southern border. “Tens of thousands,” he wildly claimed in December, bearing “cell phones with isis flags on them.”
The border was militarized, just like it is being militarized now. It was also the southern border, because those people across the border were brown and catholic. People were taken by force in shipping conditions that congress later compared to slave ships, to Veracruz. Others, like now, were dumped at the border. Many, we have no idea exactly how many, were, once again, American citizens, born and raised.
To many in his base, Mexican Americans, born and raised in the United States, are not American citizens. Let’s be clear on this point. Immigrants who go through the process legally, are not American citizens. It is that simple. It is a question of skin pigmentation and accent. They are the other, and not unlike other periods of American history, this base is ready to purify the country from the ills of other cultures and other faiths. This is a nativist policy, driven by xenophobia, racism and white supremacy. It is an attempt to slow down a process where whites will be part of a true melting pot by 2044. This is driven by fears like those of a bad French novel called “Ship of there Saints.” The book presupposes the end of the West under the mass influx of black and brown people to Europe.
This is not just a legal problem, nor one for Congress. This is also a crisis of morality. These young men and women, many of them highly educated, will be a gift on a silver platter to countries they have not known and they do not have the language to function in.
For the record, illegal immigration to the United States went down well before Trump took over the presidency. It hit its lowest numbers in 2015 according to Pew. So when Trump says that it dropped after he took over, it is not a fact.
As to the wall, a signature item for Trump, driven again by xenophobia and fear of the other, it is also a signal that the party that the president leads, this is a party for whites. This is also a country that he wants to cleanse from the other. Nor is this just a signal to Mexican Americans, but also to every other minority in the country.
In the meantime Mexico is sending more help to the United States after the passage of Harvey. These are tools to use in shelter operations and will help Americans, regardless of skin color. Need is the only driver. This is the materiel that is coming in 25 trailers.
Rice, beans, coffee, chocolate, 300 beds, 9 generators, water treatment-radio & satellite equip and 3 mobile kitchens.