Donald Trump Just Endorsed 'Operation Wetback' at the GOP Debate

The Republican candidate praised an unabashedly racist Eisenhower-era policy

Trump discussed immigration at the GOP debate Tuesday. Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In the Fox Business debate Tuesday, Donald Trump revived his execrable anti-immigrant politics: linking undocumented workers to inner-city drug abuse, promising to build his border wall, and insisting again that millions of immigrants without papers must be expelled from the country.

Trump countered Ohio Gov. John Kasich's assertion that mass deportation was not an "adult argument" by praising the deportations of Mexican workers that took place in the 1950s under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Trump praised "Ike" as a likable guy. Who couldn't like his policies?  

For the record: The Eisenhower-era policy that Trump praised in the debate was called "Operation Wetback." It removed nearly a million people from the United States, creating an indelible stain on our history. The language is so offensive that it's scarcely believable; don't take my word for it, read this synopsis from the Texas State Historical Association:

"Operation Wetback, a national reaction against illegal immigration, began in Texas in mid-July 1954. Headed by the commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service, Gen. Joseph May Swing, the United States Border Patrol, aided by municipal, county, state, and federal authorities, as well as the military, began a quasi-military operation of search and seizure of all unauthorized immigrants."

Swing sounded very much like Trump in his day, describing an "alarming, ever increasing, flood tide" of "disease ridden" immigrants whose presence in America constituted an "actual invasion of the United States." The operation began in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, but ultimately reached into the Hispanic populations of St. Louis, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco — even Spokane, Washington.

The treatment of those rounded up in "Operation Wetback" was ghastly. Many of those apprehended were shipped back to Mexico on cargo boats. A congressional investigation of one vessel, the Mercurio, where a mutiny erupted after seven deportees drowned, likened it to an "18th century slave ship," or a "penal hell ship,"  according to a history published by Columbia University professor Mae M. Ngai.

In one roundup, hundreds of undocumented "braceros" were abandoned without provision in the blazing desert south of Mexicali. Eighty-eight people died of heat stroke — a toll that would have been much worse if the Red Cross had not intervened.

So there you have it: Donald Trump's model for deporting undocumented immigrants "warmly and humanely" is an unabashedly racist program in which nearly a million human beings were terrorized by our government and treated with less dignity than farm animals.

This isn't funny. It's verging on fascist. Get woke, America: Donald Trump is dangerous.