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News Flash: The Real Inventor of "Self-Deportation"

Jan 31, 2012

On last week's show, we took up the subject of "self-deportation," the new, supposedly gentler anti-illegal immigration movement that’s been embraced by various Republican presidential hopefuls, including Mitt Romney. In our report we credited Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach with inventing “self-deportation.”

But we were reminded by a twitter feed that he was not the first person to come up with this idea.

In fact, the concept can be traced to the mid-1990's. That’s when a group called “Hispanics Against Liberal Takeover” (HALTO) started running tongue-in-cheek political ads in California, calling for the self-deportation of all illegal immigrants in the United States.

At the time, the founder of HALTO, a Mexican-American called Daniel D. Portado, came onto our very own radio show in November 1996 to promote this idea.

Daniel D. Portado: We feel that the immigrants are taking too many jobs, are bringing down the quality of life. They're not allowing our young American teenagers the character-building experiences of picking fruit and cleaning hotel beds.

Later Ira asks him:

Ira Glass: Daniel D. Portado, if you actually believe in deportation, what are you, yourself, still doing in California?

Daniel D. Portado: Well, I am here to help everyone get out. I hope to look forward to the day where I will stand at the border and say, will the last Mexican out of California please turn out the lights? That will be me.

Mr. Portado has been trying to set the record straight lately, in interviews like this, but to little avail.

Mr. Portado told Ira he got the idea for his self-deportation movement when he read about Mexican-Americans who were in favor of Propostion 187, a ballot initiative in California that prohibited illegal immigrants from using public health care, public education, and other social services in the state.

Coincidentally, Mr. Kobach told us that Proposition 187 is also what got him interested in immigration reform, which ultimately led to his idea of “attrition through enforcement,” aka self-deportation.

Luckily for Mr. Portado, his ads claim to have trademarked the term.

HALTO and Daniel D. Portado are reportedly the creations of political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz.