Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Houston Police Zero In On Donuts; Flirt With History

Houston Chronicle, 5 am today

Arresting twenty workers in a Shipley's Donuts processing plant this morning, HPD officers are reaching for the same panic button that Texas used twice in the 20th century. Fear.

Immigration raids are rare in Houston, the recent crackdown in Arizona has even prompted illegal immigrants to move to Texas to find work. When Texas does crackdown, it is never the swift hand of justice that does the talking, it is the fear of destabilization of communities that leads to a slow bleed back south of the border.

U.S. soldiers on U.S. soil rounding up workers for U.S. companies

In 1951 Border Patrol and Federal agents raided Mexican immigrant communities and arrested 80,000 people to be rounded up for mass deportations. In typical fashion, Operation Wetback followed the Bracero Program, which brought between 4 and 5 million Mexicans to America during World War II to bolster the economy. Families were separated and legals left the state in fear of racially motivated discrimination. In all they managed to intimidate 1 million people to leave the country.

Labor was also drafted from Caribbean nations for the Bracero Program, with the federal government setting up labor camps in the South for temporary workers from Jamaica, Barbados and the Virgin Islands. Many workers agitated for better conditions or fled the subsistence conditions of the camps. These shanty towns were still in use by private companies thirty years later, having been bought from the government for $1 each during the 1950s.

Repatriation Train leaving Chihuahua, 1932

In the years leading up to 1935, American xenophobia in the face of the Great Depression prompted immigration officials to deport about 500,000 Mexican-Americans, leading to an exodus of 2 million people- 60% of which were American-born children.

128,000 Old World immigrants were deported as well- as part of the Immigration Act of 1917 the country reacted against Eastern Europeans, Middle Easterners and Jewish immigrants.

The state of California passed the Apology Act for the 1930s Mexican Repatriation Program in 2005, officially recognizing the "unconstitutional removal and coerced emigration of United States citizens and legal residents of Mexican descent" and apologizing to residents of California "for the fundamental violations of their basic civil liberties and constitutional rights committed during the period of illegal deportation and coerced emigration".

You'll never get the same statement out of Texas, but hopefully with more developed Spanish-language media and social support perhaps we can avoid the "voluntary repatriation" that did more damage to Texan culture than any action taken by the government.

Take it from three white guys who like to play black music and dress like hispanic pimps
Put the J back in Texas


Anonymous said...

Say NO to the NAU!

Anonymous said...

Sehr geniale Sache!