LOS ANGELES -- Immigrants are determined to keep President-elect Donald Trump from following through on his campaign threat to deport millions, like Yamilex Rustriam.
“If I get deported the day after tomorrow, I have nowhere to go. Obviously I have family but I would feel lost,” Rustriam said.
She’s afraid her family will be ripped apart as so many were the last two times the U.S. government forced out immigrants en masse.
“It’s a tough feeling not to know the person that was your father,” said Esteban Torres, a former U.S. congressman.
Torres’s father was one of an estimated two million immigrants who were shipped out of the country as part of a government campaign called the Mexican Repatriation, meant to save American jobs during the Great Depression.
“Rounded them all up and shipped them back to their home country,” Torres said.
At three years old, he was allowed to stay in the U.S. with his mother because he was born in the country. But roughly 60 percent of those sent across the border were American-born children.
“It was rough. I remember living in shacks, you know. My mother couldn’t afford anything better,” Torrres said.
It all happened again in the 1950s during Operation Wetback, when another quarter-million immigrants were sent back across the border.
“It’s a really dark part of U.S. history,” said UCLA professor Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda.
“These round-ups did capture and break up families that have consequences even today,” he said.
Torres never saw his father again.
“It left me with a taste of how cruel authorities can be,” he said.
He just hopes President Trump doesn’t repeat history.