Operation Wetback was an immigration law enforcement initiative created by Director of the Immigration and Naturalization ServiceJoseph Swing. The program was implemented in May of 1954 by the U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell, and utilized special tactics to combat the problem of illegal border crossing and residence in the United States by Mexican nationals. Ultimately, the program came as a result of pressure from the Mexican government to stop illegal entry of Mexican Laborers in the United States based largely on the Bracero Program. After implementation, Operation Wetback was met with allegations of abuse and suspension of certain civil rights of Mexicans that were captured and deported by U.S. Border Patrol.
Migration and labor demands before WWII Mexico began discouraging emigration to the U.S. in early 1900s, beginning with President Porfirio Díaz. Diaz, like many others within the Mexican government, realized the laborers leaving for the United States would be needed to industrialize Mexico and grow the economy. While Mexico did not have extensive capital, its biggest asset was abundant, cheap labor, the primary source needed to modernize the country and utilize industrialized agri-business The large and continuously growing agricultural industry in the United States created a demand for Mexican labor. From the 1920s onward, with the exception of the depression era, Mexicans served as the primary labor source for much of the agricultural industry in the United States, especially in the Southwest. 62,000 workers entered the United States legally, while over 100,000 entered illegally per year during the 1920s. Pressure from Mexican agribusiness owners to return laborers from the United States to Mexico prompted increased action by the Mexican government. The labor problems grew so bad that crops would rot in Mexican fields because so many laborers had crossed the border into the U.S. Meanwhile, American farms were also transitioning to large scale farms and agribusinesses and continued to recruit illegal Mexican laborers to fulfill the increasing labor demands.
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