Operation Wetback

Operation Wetback was a mass deportation initiative launched by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the summer and fall of 1954 during the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The INS commissioner General Joseph Swing oversaw Operation Wetback, which represented a collaboration among the U.S. Border Patrol and local, county, state, and federal law enforcement agents to identify, apprehend, and remove undocumented immigrants (also referred to as illegal aliens) from American society. Although the term wetback is today often considered a derogatory and offensive slur against persons of Mexican heritage, the label was commonly used during previous generations as a slang term for undocumented migrants from Mexico (denoting a person with a drenched back, as in the case of individuals who swam across the ...

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