Hey, guys, can’t we please get back to talking about implementing some reasonable, common-sense gun confiscation, grabbing 350 million-plus guns out of the hands of people grimly, absolutely determined to hang onto them? I mean, at least that’s feasible, right? Not like this pie-in-the-sky, unworkable, utterly unpossible securing-the-borders nonsense.
To the establishments of both parties and the media, Trump is beyond the pale. Yet he keeps, confidently, moving beyonder. And, as he does so, he’s moving the pale.
At this point in the evening, the candidates were arguing not whether it was disgraceful but whether it was do-able. Trump’s response is that not only is it do-able but it’s already been done – by a two-term Republican president. Eisenhower, by the way, was the last non-politician to be drafted as presidential nominee (and “I Like Ike” came from Irving Berlin’s Call Me Madam). His sudden reappearance in the GOP pantheon is a fine example of the difference Trump’s made to this primary season: without his presence in the race, no-one would be talking about the practicalities of mass deportation of illegal aliens.
Whether that’s a good thing is a matter of opinion. But, considering that the erasing of America’s borders is the signature issue that propelled Trump to the top of the polls and has kept him there for six months, there’s been a curious reluctance on the part of all four debate-hosting networks to get into the subject. Wouldn’t it be appropriate, in the present atmosphere, to question Marco Rubio on the Gang of Eight business and get a bit of a ding-dong going between him and Trump? Apparently not.
So two minutes of Wetback Revisited is apparently the closest we’ll get. It arose in the context of John Kasich and Jeb Bush’s objections to Trump’s views on the armies of the undocumented. Kasich actually said, “Think about the families. Think about the children.” Then he scoffed, “Come on, folks. We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them back across the border. It’s a silly argument. It is not an adult argument.”
Bush, on the other hand, thought that even talking about this stuff was a mistake that would work only to Hillary’s benefit: “They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now when they hear this.”
How pitiful a candidate is Jeb? This pitiful: He’s not even competitive in the bleeding-heart compassionate establishment squish sub-section of the primary. Kasich offered sentimentalist pabulum – “Think about the children” – and elite condescension: Trump’s position isn’t “adult”. But Jeb basically previewed his general-election fetal position: We can’t talk about this because we have to play this game on the Democrats’ terms.
Fifty-three years ago, when newly elected Dwight Eisenhower moved into the White House, America’s southern frontier was as porous as a spaghetti sieve. As many as 3 million illegal migrants had walked and waded northward over a period of several years for jobs in California, Arizona, Texas, and points beyond.
President Eisenhower cut off this illegal traffic. He did it quickly and decisively with only 1,075 United States Border Patrol agents – less than one-tenth of today’s force. The operation is still highly praised among veterans of the Border Patrol.
In 1954, Ike appointed retired Gen. Joseph “Jumpin’ Joe” Swing, a former West Point classmate and veteran of the 101st Airborne, as the new INS commissioner.
Influential politicians, including Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (D) of Texas and Sen. Pat McCarran (D) of Nevada, favored open borders, and were dead set against strong border enforcement, Brownell said. But General Swing’s close connections to the president shielded him – and the Border Patrol – from meddling by powerful political and corporate interests.
One of Swing’s first decisive acts was to transfer certain entrenched immigration officials out of the border area to other regions of the country where their political connections with people such as Senator Johnson would have no effect.
Then on June 17, 1954, what was called “Operation Wetback” began. Because political resistance was lower in California and Arizona, the roundup of aliens began there. Some 750 agents swept northward through agricultural areas with a goal of 1,000 apprehensions a day. By the end of July, over 50,000 aliens were caught in the two states. Another 488,000, fearing arrest, had fled the country.
By mid-July, the crackdown extended northward into Utah, Nevada, and Idaho, and eastward to Texas.
By September, 80,000 had been taken into custody in Texas, and an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 illegals had left the Lone Star State voluntarily.
Unlike today, Mexicans caught in the roundup were not simply released at the border, where they could easily reenter the US. To discourage their return, Swing arranged for buses and trains to take many aliens deep within Mexico before being set free.
Tens of thousands more were put aboard two hired ships, the Emancipation and the Mercurio. The ships ferried the aliens from Port Isabel, Texas, to Vera Cruz, Mexico, more than 500 miles south.
The sea voyage was “a rough trip, and they did not like it,” says Don Coppock, who worked his way up from Border Patrolman in 1941 to eventually head the Border Patrol from 1960 to 1973.
Mr. Coppock says he “cannot understand why [President] Bush let [today’s] problem get away from him as it has. I guess it was his compassionate conservatism, and trying to please [Mexican President] Vincente Fox.”
And so, y’know, here we are. Just another thing to thank good ol’ Dubya for. The result of this “unworkable, unreasonable, inhumane” program? Oh, not much, really. Just this:
General Swing’s fast-moving campaign soon secured America’s borders – an accomplishment no other president has since equaled. Illegal migration had dropped 95 percent by the late 1950s.
Several retired Border Patrol agents who took part in the 1950s effort, including Mr. Edwards, say much of what Swing did could be repeated today.
“Some say we cannot send 12 million illegals now in the United States back where they came from. Of course we can!” Edwards says.
Donald Coppock, who headed the Patrol from 1960 to 1973, says that if Swing and Ike were still running immigration enforcement, “they’d be on top of this in a minute.”
William Chambers, another ’50s veteran, agrees. “They could do a pretty good job” sealing the border.
Edwards says: “When we start enforcing the law, these various businesses are, on their own, going to replace their [illegal] workforce with a legal workforce.”
While Congress debates building a fence on the border, these veterans say other actions should have higher priority.
1. End the current practice of taking captured Mexican aliens to the border and releasing them. Instead, deport them deep into Mexico, where return to the US would be more costly.
2. Crack down hard on employers who hire illegals. Without jobs, the aliens won’t come.
3. End “catch and release” for non-Mexican aliens. It is common for illegal migrants not from Mexico to be set free after their arrest if they promise to appear later before a judge. Few show up.
As for the idiot Kasich’s “inhumane” bit, we’ll go back to Steyn for the answer to that:
It is striking that, even in a conservative debate, mass, remorseless, illegal immigration is discussed almost entirely from the illegals’ point of view: as Kasich advises, think of the families, think of the children. Their families, their children. The families of those they’ve supplanted are of less consequence. The argument made by Bush and Kasich against enforcing the immigration laws is an appeal to moral preening: this is “not who we are”. But using mass immigration to destroy the lives of your own citizens? That’s exactly who we are.
Maybe Kasich’s just confused over who it is he’s supposed to be representing. If so, he’s hardly alone in that failing. And I’ll repeat: if Trump’s only achievement this campaign cycle is to say the things ordinary Americans want said, and in so doing force these issues to be mulled over and discussed, then he’s already done the nation a far greater service than most of the other self-aggrandizing pygmies sharing the debate stages with him ever have, or ever will. To echo Steyn: by “moving beyonder,” he’s helping to pull the nation in a very different direction (i.e.,not Left) than the Vichy Republicans have been for lo, these many years. More power to him–yes, literally.