Thursday, September 16, 2010

Some truths can't be hidden by "facts" claims to be non-partisan, but in general it tends to be more critical of left than the right, in keeping with the right-wing slant of the Annenberg Foundation. I recently came across a “fact check” on the level of mass deportations of persons of Mexican heritage over the years; it wanted to debunk the claim that 13 million people were deported during the Eisenhower administration—which is a patently absurd claim on its face, and Factcheck only embarrassed itself by taking-up the question, as if the eventual "fact" that a mass deportation of 2.1 million was not disturbing in itself. Factcheck also wanted to investigate the claim that Hoover and Truman deported people of Mexican heritage in order to allow job openings for white Americans. Whether or not this was true (Factcheck claims it was not), what public officials say in public and do in private are generally two different things. Factcheck, however, did not attempt to refute the claim that during the 1930s between 400,000 and 1 million “Mexicans”—as much as 60 percent who were U.S. citizens—were deported during the height of the Great Depression in a frenzy of anti-Mexican sentiment by whites angry that “Mexicans” had “their” jobs. There are, of course, the “official” numbers documented by the INS, but given the tenor of the times, they almost certainly conceal much higher numbers.

Interestingly, it was noted that the 1924 immigration law did not apply to people from Latin American countries; it was felt that there was no point in establishing a “quota” or even stopping immigration from the South. It would seem that only beginning with the Great Depression, and since during times of economic dysfunction, that illegal immigration has hypocritically gone to the forefront of public discourse.

The article also confesses that “It is also true that federal immigration officials sometimes used legally dubious tactics in those days. A report to the 1931 Wickersham Commission, taking note of some "objectionable features" of the deportation system, described immigration officials "forcibly detaining groups of people many of whom are aliens lawfully in this country, or even United States citizens, without any warrant of arrest or search." The report added: "It is often customary for the immigrant inspectors to jail suspects, however apprehended, without a warrant of arrest or any other kind of a warrant." And it concluded, "The apprehension and examination of supposed aliens are often characterized by methods unconstitutional, tyrannic, and oppressive." Although Factcheck refused to blame this on official administration policy, states and local governments did in fact engage in their own illegal deportation activity, much as Arizona is trying to do today, using jobs for “real”—i.e. white—Americans sloganeering.

The reality that current deportation mania also has some “objectionable features” was revealed in a recent story concerning one Luis Alberto Delgado. Delgado, who is U.S. born but spent much of his youth in Mexico, where his mother returned after divorcing his father. Delgado and his brother were pulled over by a Texas deputy for a seatbelt violation. Both Delgado and his brother were carrying their “papers”—birth certificate, social security card and Texas ID—but this wasn’t enough. Delgado’s brother was let go because he also was carrying his selective service card, but because Delgado spoke broken English, the deputy took it upon himself to determine that his documents were fake. “They kept saying, ‘These are not your documents. You’re lying to us. You’re going to go prison for 20 years’,” his attorney, Isaias Torres said. “They basically wore him down. He’s a 19-year-old kid.” Delgado was pressured into signing a statement of “voluntary” return and waiving his right for a hearing before an immigration court.

It took three months for the “mix-up” to be corrected, and begs the question: Is this merely anecdotal, or is it a common occurrence? The only reason why we know about this case was because Delgado did not lie down and allow injustice to prevail, and which was so egregious that an attorney agreed to take the case pro bono. It also brings up the matter of what constitutes “proper documents”—especially even when a birth certificate and social security number whose authenticity can be quickly ascertained is not enough to “prove” legal residence? Who should be carrying such documents everywhere anyways? Is deporting someone who is not carrying the “proper papers” merely because they don’t speak King’s English, but looks “Mexican” an expression of contempt for a “Mexican’s” civil rights? Is this proper? Is this just a step in the direction of wholesale violations of the civil rights of anyone who looks “Mexican”—even if they are U.S. citizens? Even couldn’t completely hide this truth.

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