From: Joseph Morabito [Email him]
I came across the following New York Times piece that I think you will find of interest.
'WETBACK' AIRLIFT TURNS BACK 28,000; Immigration Service Lists Cost at More Than $500,000 in Trial of Two Months, By GLADWIN HILL, New York Times, August 7, 1951
'BORDER JUMPING' CURBED
Daily Flights Are Called an Impetus to Recruitment of Labor Under New Law
Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 6, 1951
About 28,000 Mexican illegal entrants into the Southwestern part of this country have been flown back to their native land in the first two months of the new "airlift" deportation system of the United States immigration and naturalization service.
While this has cost upwards of $500,000 and has disposed of less than one-third of the total of illegal entrants apprehended during the period, the system apparently is putting a considerable crimp in the annual tide of border-jumping, Service officers said today.
This illicit traffic has been reliably estimated at upwards of 1,000,000 persons a year, all attracted by the prospect of employment- albeit at sub-financial wages-on Southwestern fruit, vegetable and cotton ranches and in urban occupations.
A Tide That's Not Swept Back
For a decade, the Immigration Service, with fewer than 1,000 patrol officers for the 1,600 miles of International Border between Brownsville, Tex., and San Diego, has been futilely attacking this human tide with a figurative broom, trundling illegals across the boundary by bus, only to have them often beat the bus back into the United States.
As a more decisive deterrent, the Immigration Service in June invoked chartered transport planes to carry the "wetbacks" -so called because of their traffic across the Rio Grande River—so deep into Mexico they would have trouble getting back.
inaugurated from El Centro, on California's southern border, and Brownsville to Guadalajara, 500 miles southwest of Brownsville, San Luis Potosi, 3,50 miles southwest of Brownsville and to Durango, 500 miles south of EI Paso, Tex.
Sent Back to Mexican Homes
The illegal entrants were routed back to the centers nearest their known homes. To date, more than 19,000 have been flown out of Brownsville, at a rate of as many as six flights a day, and some 8,400 from El Centro.
That the system is proving of value is seen by immigration officers in the fact that whereas the old forms of deportation had little apparent effect on the rate of influx, it has now dropped sharply.
[More, NYT Pay Archive.]
James Fulford writes: Joseph Morabito keeps sending us these wonderful things from the past—see A Connecticut Reader Is Nostalgic For The 1912 GOP, A Connecticut Reader Forwards A Telling Quote From A Deceased Massachusetts Politician and A Connecticut Reader Notes Past Deportations.
In this case, we see a Democratic administration (Truman's) and a Democratic paper (The NYT)behaving in a normally patriotic and law-abiding way—more than sixty years ago, so that everyone involved is now probably dead.
We also see that “wetback” was not considered an unprintable racist term by the NYT, in reference to illegal aliens who had entered the US by fording the unfortunately shallow, notoriously damp, Rio Grande.