Bachmann wants Operation Wetback part Dos

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Michele Bachmann and Joe Arpaio: best friends forever?
Michele Bachmann went to Arizona this week for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's endorsement. She didn't get it, and likely won't.

But Bachmann did confess that America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff" gave her a pair of the pink boxers he forces inmates in his jail to wear.

She also elaborated on what immigration policy would look like in a Bachmann administration.

Bachmann's been outspoken about immigration in the past, saying that America "needs to go back to the 1950s" when immigrants had to "promise to learn English." Immigration policy in the 1950s is known for, among other things, restrictive quotas and Operation Wetback, a mass deportation of Mexicans orchestrated by President Eisenhower in 1954. What Bachmann told a local interviewer sounds remarkably like Wetback for the modern day.

Bachmann referenced 1950s-era immigration policy in last week's Republican debate, the one where everyone ignored her. She elaborated in an interview with Fox News Radio's Mike Broomhead.

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Bachmann was ignored at the debate, and yet she said something dumb.
First, Bachmann said we must build a fence on the border -- anyone who crosses over it "we arrest." She said "enforce the law" in some form or other at least half a dozen times in about thirty seconds.

Bachmann also took shots at the Obama Administration, claiming that she'd "tell the border agents we have your back" if she were president, which she followed with a bizarre caveat: "If you as a border agent aren't breaking the law yourself, I will have your back."

The claim about Obama not supporting a tight border is bunk: Obama has deported more immigrants than anyone in recent history and Immigration Customs Enforcement agents have the administration's full support, which we wrote about a couple weeks ago.

What made Bachmann's points about "immigration policy" stand out, however, was her suggestion that she wouldn't be a passive president stopping people at the border. She'd hunt them down all across America.

"We need to do the same with ICE agents in the interior. This isn't just an Arizona-specific problem," Bachmann said. "This is a national problem dealing with people who are breaking the law."

That's what begins to sound like Operation Wetback, the 1954 operation beginning in California and Arizona involving over 1,000 Border Patrol agents who went door-to-door in Mexican-American neighborhoods checking citizenship. It's estimated that half a million Mexicans fled the country for fear of la migra.

Many thousands of immigrants were forcibly detained and bused back to Mexico, where government agents dropped them off hundreds of miles beyond the border in hopes of preventing them from returning to America.

What else is there to know about immigration policy in the 1950's? Consider an editorial that ran in yesterday's Washington Post:

Ms. Bachmann's nostalgia is touching but misplaced, unless she really pines for a return to laws that explicitly favored white immigrants from a handful of Northern European countries while excluding or disadvantaging Jews, Asians, Africans and practically everyone else.
The Post tried to ask Bachmann if that's really the 1950's immigration policy that she longed for. Her campaign didn't answer.


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