Argument: No past administration deported close to 13 million illegals

Issue Report: Deporting illegal immigrants in the US


“Hoover, Truman, and Ike.” July 9th, 2010: “Q: Did Eisenhower deport 13 million illegal immigrants? Did Hoover and Truman use mass deportations to open jobs for U.S. citizens? A: No. Nothing close to 13 million persons were deported during any administration. All three of these presidents wrestled with a rising tide of illegal immigration, but a long-running chain e-mail makes bogus claims about them.

[…] This distortion of history has been going around for some time, but has picked up momentum as the immigration debate has heated up again. So we contacted researchers at the Hoover, Truman and Eisenhower libraries to ask if the historical record backs up the claims that these presidents ordered mass deportations. It doesn’t. We also consulted the Office of the Historian of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and a leading academic historian as well. We got the same answer. This e-mail message is bogus.

The true history of presidential policy toward illegal immigration, and of deportations, is neither as simple nor as successful as claimed.

Hoover did not use immigration policy to “create jobs” and never “ordered the deportation of all illegal aliens.” During his four-year presidency, roughly 121,000 persons were officially deported or induced to leave through threat of deportation, according to our analysis of official statistics. (We explain our sources and analytical methods fully in the “Where We Got The Numbers” section below.)

Truman did not try to “create jobs for returning veterans” by ordering deportations. In fact, he signed legislation protecting the rights of Mexican migrant laborers recruited legally to help harvest U.S. crops, and was unable to win congressional approval of measures to crack down on employers of illegal immigrants. During his nearly eight years in office, about 3.4 million were deported or left “voluntarily” under threat of deportation.

Eisenhower did not deport 13 million Mexicans. Only one-tenth that number was ever claimed by the federal officials in charge of “Operation Wetback,” and even that figure is criticized as inflated by guesswork. Officially, just over 2.1 million were recorded as having been deported or having departed under threat of deportation.”