Apr 15, 2024 - News

Citizens fear Trump mass deportation threats

A row of people stand with their hands outstretched on a wall while they are searched.

Salvadoran immigrants at Willacy Detention facility in Raymondville, Texas, were searched in 2008 before being deported. Photo: Jose Cabezas/AFP via Getty Images

More than half of U.S. Latino adults worry any new mass deportations would target all Latinos regardless of legal status.

Why it matters: Former President Trump has promised mass deportations if he wins a second term, and past efforts have swept up U.S. citizens, creating generations of trauma.

By the numbers: 54% of Mexicans and Mexican Americans — the targets of mass deportations in the 20th Century — said they worried that any new mass deportation plan would target all Latinos, including U.S. citizens and lawful residents.

  • Overall, 52% of Latinos surveyed said they worry that all Latinos will be targets of the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Catch up quick: Trump's plan to crack down on immigrants includes using a range of tools to deport millions of people, including obscure laws and military funds.

  • Trump wants to mobilize ICE agents — along with the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, federal prosecutors, the National Guard, and even state and local law enforcement officers — to carry out deportations, Axios previously reported.

Flashback: State and local governments during the Great Depression "repatriation" pressured 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.
  • Both mass deportations snatched up American citizens, including a future World War II hero and Holocaust survivor who had been racially profiled.
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