Mar 7, 2024 - News

Mass deportations would meet resistance

Three children gather by a tree in a black-and-white photo.

Unaccompanied migrant Mexican American children found by the Farm Security Administration in 1935. Photo: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The mass deportations that former President Trump has promised will take place if he's re-elected could cause shock waves in the economy and disrupt communities — but, unlike similar efforts in the past, they'd be met with resistance from Latino civil rights groups and elected officials.

Why it matters: Two previous mass deportations of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in U.S. history caused trauma for generations of people, Axios Latino's Russell Contreras writes.

Catch up fast: At rallies, Trump has said he would launch "the largest deportation operation in American history" and end birthright citizenship as outlined in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The latest: Trump won big in the primaries on Super Tuesday, including in the states with the most delegates — Texas and California.

Flashback: The "repatriation" during the Great Depression involved pressure from state and local governments on Mexicans and Mexican Americans to "return" to Mexico amid high unemployment in the U.S. and violent anti-Mexican sentiment. About a million people, most of whom were coerced, left.

  • The Eisenhower-era "Operation Wetback" used military-style tactics to round up 1.3 million Mexicans and Mexican Americans across the country in the 1950s for the then-largest deportation operation in U.S. history. "Wetback" is a racial slur for Mexicans.

Between the lines: Those previous mass deportations came when U.S. Latinos had few civil rights organizations and little political power, with almost no elected officials at any level.

What they're saying: "We would push back in every way that we can, through the courts, through organizing ... every single way that we could to protect the communities that we represent," U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tells Axios.


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