There are many emotions on both sides of the immigration debate as a massive ICE raid is on the horizon. The raid had previously been postponed but is back on schedule over the weekend to be executed on Sunday, July 12th. The ICE raid will target ten U.S cities nationwide and is projected to result in thousands of arrests, detentions, and potentially deportations. Contrary to what Trump and the media seem to want us to believe, however, this is not the first time the government has executed a massive crackdown on immigration either through mass deportation or militarized border operations. From the Mexican Repatriation of the 1930s to Operation Wetback in 1954, all the way through Bill Clinton’s Operation Gatekeeper, the government has always been involved in massive crackdowns and raids but they haven’t always gone well.
1. American Citizens will Be Caught-Up
Around the 1930s the United States began to see an economic downturn that would see the crash of the stock market and record losses in jobs. The Great Depression would take a great toll on many Americans, and their newest immigrant group would be no exception. America already seemed to have been developing a shifting of Mexicans, having made border crossings a criminal act for the first time in 1929. Then Americans decided they didn’t want Mexicans to share in their New Deal programs and began to blame them for the disappearing of jobs. There was a call to return these new arrivals to their old “home”.
On a federal front, the Mexican Repatriation of the 1930s was focused on deporting Mexican nationals, especially with no proper papers or legal verifications of their approved status in being here. Local agencies who were involved in the actual execution, however, made their focus on Mexicans in general. Of the over 1 million Mexican nationals and individuals of Mexican descent, this historian estimates that about 60% of them were United States Citizens. That’s 600,000 citizens forced out of the country that didn’t deserve to be.
While no official numbers to seem to be available it is also said that many of those deported in Operation Wetback were U.S citizens.
With President Trump having advocated an approach tossing away due process “for illegals” and “criminal aliens” (those who allegedly came here illegally) don’t ever doubt for a minute that these massive ICE raids will be no exception.
2. Unintended Consequences: The Blowback of Immigration Policy
The CIA once coined the term “blowback” as a way to describe the unintended consequences of foreign policy. One of my favorite examples was when the United States in co-operation with Great Britain installed the Shah of Iran, a brutal but somewhat pro-western military dictator whose rise and subsequential overthrow would lead to the rise of the Ayatollah.
Of course, these mass migrations and the violence at the border are also related directly to foreign policy, but there is a glimmer of blowback even how our government handles its immigration matter. Between the years 1998 and 2005, the U.S government undertook a massive deportation operation that sought only to deport those with a criminal background. Between those years we sent away 46,000 criminals many of them violent and dangerous. Three little countries including El Salvadore, Honduras, and Guatemala, received about 90% of them.
Keep in mind these are criminals that have adapted to and essentially been trained by a modernized police force and prison system, and thousands of them in just a couple of short years have been dumped into three small countries that have neither. We essentially unleashed the Arkham Asylum onto three small central American countries. This caused criminal organizations and gangs to overrun the authorities there, who received not even the decency of fair notice from the U.S.
Many of them set up drug smuggling and human trafficking syndicates, and many acted as coyotes ironically bringing more drugs, more criminal activity, and more human trafficking into the United States. Not only that but these three countries also now boast some of the highest murder rates in the world. Add to this thousand of asylum seekers and undocumented workers that have lived in the United States for years, including dreamers who are likely to return as human trafficking victims, and we’ve essentially made it Christmas for criminals. Even in our immigration policies it seems, there are unintended consequences. Will these ICE raids be any exception?
3. It Hurts American Industry
The nationalist’s argument on the economy front is always the same, “They steal our jobs and hurt the economy” and the argument is always wrong. I discuss this in my book and have cited plenty of research that disproves it. Wharton School of Business, The National Academy of Sciences and Engineering, The CATO Institute, and the Hamilton Project run by Princeton Universities are just a few of the sources that agree with me the immigration is good for the economy (whether lawfully approved or not) Not only that but massive ICE raids that result in deportations actually hurt the economy. Wharton School of Business released a “policy simulator” in 2016 showing that, but we have also seen it play out in real life.
In 2011 an immigration crackdown in the state of Georgia cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars due to lost crops that resulted from a lack of labor for the harvest. The governor attempted to replace the migrant workers with prisoners but the plan backfired when prisoners walked off the job because they couldn’t take the heat.
It had also been reported that the hotel and restaurant industry in the state had been affected as well. While it could be argued this particular ICE raid may not affect the farms since they’ll take place in major cities we can see through many examples and endless research that the loss of migrant labor and consumer immigrants will most certainly be felt.
Bonus reason Number 4.
Some of our detention centers are already overcrowded.