Judging by the rate at which our ancestors threw entire demographics behind barbed wire, there were only two surefire ways to strike it rich during the 20th century: invent a cure for polio, or learn how to whittle a guard tower and/or machine gun nest. But that's all in the distant past, right?
Actually, if it hadn't been for an anonymous whistleblower within the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the 1980s, we'd also be learning about that time we imprisoned a bunch of immigrants in a backwoods prison camp because of some vague terrorism-shaped reasoning.
Immigration and Naturalization ServiceWe know this seems unthinkable to you in the year 2016, but please try to imagine it.
By 1985, the United States had suffered a series of devastating terrorist attacks on its embassies, military bases, and other facilities across the Middle East, leaving dozens of citizens and soldiers dead. The country wanted payback, ideally of the Rambo variety. The INS, therefore, commissioned a plan targeting immigrants from eight specific countries -- Libya, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, and Morocco -- with a view to removing them from our soil before the hivemind activated. The military strength of this dangerous "sleeper cell"? Oh, only 80,000+ people. That figure pales in comparison to the number of Japanese-Americans that we locked up in the '40s, sure, but we get the feeling that this line of positive thinking doesn't fly when you're talking about extrajudicial detention.
Los Angeles Museum of Holocaust"It can't happen here." -People at any point in history, even as it happened there.
The destination for these people was a 100-acre camp within the backwoods of Louisiana, a prospect that would have made reading Winnie The Pooh a problematic exercise in awkwardness today. The plan also made it clear how badly they -- and by "they," we mean "the entire government" -- were going to fuck with the system to make this happen: secret trials, en masse withdrawal of immigration documentation, holding inmates without bond, and even bringing the CIA and FBI in to hunt down anyone who proved less than cooperative. Real "baddies in dystopic action movie" stuff.
As luck would have it, a copy of the plan was anonymously passed to a lawyer representing the "LA Eight" -- a group of eight foreign activists who were being held by the police without charge, in what is now considered to have been a covert dummy run for this plan. And then, as if by magic, the whole thing was quietly abandoned, and America never considered treating masses of foreigners like shit ever again. Yep.
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