By Herman Baca
If the so-called U.S. immigration issue is a historical labor issue as Chicano/Mexicanos activists, historians, scholars & academicians claim, what then has been the historical role of the U.S. Border Patrol (BP)? To answer that question one has to study the U.S.’s historical addiction to free and cheap labor. That started when white supremacists created the Afro-American slave labor system in Jamestown, West Virginia in 1619. A town named after King James I of England who organized the slave trade in America, and translated the King James Bible?
Today, those white supremacists are represented by Republican party presidential candidate, Donald Trump, and his Know-Nothing let’s make America great again supporters. The Know-Nothing political party in the 1850’s campaigned on a strong anti-immigrant and anti-Roman Catholic political platform. Much like today’s xenophobic Republican Party.
The question is how did white supremacists keep Afro-American slaves laborers in a right-less status? Simple, the slave labor system organized “slave patrols” of white men, the forerunners of today’s U.S. police and the BP. Their job (as today) was policing, monitoring, enforcing discipline to prevent runaways & stop slaves’ resistances/uprisings. However, their main job was to maintain the white supremacist social, economic, and political system in the antebellum southern states. Following Afro-American slave laborers were: Chinese, Irish, Filipinos, Okies, Central Americans and after the end of the 1848 U.S.-Mexico War (to the present) millions of “legal” & so-called “illegal” Mexican undocumented workers. For the conquered persons of Mexican ancestry the “slave patrol” became the Texas Rangers; the private army of Texas cattle barons and agri-business interests.
The history of the Texas Rangers’ was to insure that persons of Mexican ancestry whether U.S. citizens, documented, or undocumented didn’t get “uppity,” and start to demand the same rights, wages or working conditions as whites. However the ranger’s real job, like the Afro-Americans “slave patrols,” was to insure the white supremacist social, economic and political system was never threatened. In 1924 the U.S. Congress created the BP. The only national police force (over 20,000 agents) that the U.S. created basically for Mexicans.
Like the Rangers, the BP’s primary job has been to serve as a private army for the secondary labor sector of the U.S. economy: agri-business, hotel/motels, restaurants, construction, tourist, home care, etc. With the changing demographics (making whites a minority) the white supremacist system has disgracefully hired (starting salary up to $49,000) “Malinches” persons of Mexican ancestry (majority BP agents) to do their dirty work against their own people.
The BP’s historical record includes: the chief violators of human, civil and constitutional rights, the largest smugglers of Mexican workers, labor union strike breakers and the most racist white supremacist agency in the U.S. government. Proof, BP paid government union members endorsed Republican Donald Trump, along with Nazizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio & KKK David Duke?
So what is the historical political position of the Chicano Movement concerning the BP? To Chicanos leaders such as Bert Corona, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez, Cesar Chavez, Abe Tapia, etc. the BP is: “The Gestapo of the Mexican people.” The agency’s documented sordid history against all persons of Mexican ancestry is: terrorizing, breaking up families, deportations, indiscriminate raids, incarcerating children, breaking into churches, beatings, shootings, killings, rapes, etc. What the KKK represents to Afro-Americans, the Gestapo to Jewish people and Custer to Native Americans, the BP represents to all persons of Mexican ancestry.
Chicanos–after 100’s of billions of taxpayers’ dollars squandered–understand, unlike naïve white Americans, that the job of the BP’s is not to control or secure the U.S.-Mexico border. Consider; 1) In its 90 years history the BP has never stopped one Mexican from ever crossing the US-Mexico border to find work unless they maimed, shot or killed that person! 2) In 1986 the U.S. Government estimated 3 million undocumented persons were in the U.S., in 2016 13 million? To Chicanos the political reasons for creating the BP was to control Mexican labor, and keep Chicanos/Latinos in a second class citizen status. Finally, the movement’s historical position remains; until the BP is abolished, the U.S.-Mexico War will never be over, and 55 million Chicanos/Latinos in the U.S will never be free!
Herman Baca is a resident and business owner in National City and the longtime President of the Committee on Chicano Rights. This is part five of a six part series:
Part 2 — Amnesty: A Path To Citizenship?
Part 3 — Securing the U.S.-Mexico Border?
Part 4 — Guest Workers Or Bracero Slaves?