Today is the day to remember D-Day – the day that more than 160,000 Allied troops landed on Normandy to retake Europe back from Nazi Germany. D-Day was a collaboration of many nations, one of which was México. It is poignant that Donald Trump is remarking on D-Day from the American-centric point of view which is made worse by Trump’s very limited knowledge of history while at the same time criticizing México and immigrants. It is poignant because D-Day was only possible because of the close collaboration between nations and the immigrants who worked to support and the feed the military; and the many immigrants that filled the ranks of the military forces who fought at Normandy.
Donald Trump wants the world to believe in America First on the day that immigrants and the close collaboration between México and the U.S. made D-Day possible.
About 6,500 Mexican nationals enlisted in the U.S. military the day after the U.S. Congress enacted the Selective Training and Service Act (November 1940) and January 1943, when the U.S.-México signed the World War II reciprocal agreement for the defense of both nations. A steady stream of Mexican nationals continued to register to serve in the U.S. forces through 1945. In addition, almost 500,000 Hispanics served during World War II. [Rivas-Rodriguez, Maggie et al; “Beyond the Latino World Warr ii Hero: The Social and Political Legacy of a Generation; 2009”]
It is important to note that under U.S. law all U.S. citizens were required to be available to the armed forces while foreigners from Allied countries living in the U.S. were also required to be made available as well. México remained a neutral country in the conflict, thus its citizens were not subject to registering with U.S. authorities until México declared war in May 1942.
In addition, many Mexicans held dual nationality and thus were required to register for war.
Because of this, quantifying the number of Mexican nationals serving in the U.S. Armed Forces is difficult. However, the numerous decorations conferred upon Hispanics, including Mexican citizens, both documented and undocumented attests to the contributions made by Mexicans in World War II.
In addition to direct combat in U.S. uniform, México also fielded Squadron 201 to fight in the Pacific Theater against Japanese forces.
But the military participation was only part of the commitment made by México during World War II.
The Bracero Program – which brought in Mexican labor to work the fields and in the manufacturing plants – not only increased America’s productivity, but it also allowed for the bolstering of the armed forces by having Mexicans fill spots left open by those fighting in the war effort.
Without the Bracero Program, America would not have had the resources to mount an operation for D-Day.
It was Mexican labor that help provide the food and the materials needed to fight the Axis Powers, especially during D-Day operations.
But Mexico’s contributions were not only in manpower.
The United States could focus on building up for deployment in Europe and in the Pacific Theater because México helped the United States protect its homeland. The Mexican Navy helped patrol the two coasts. Air defense was bolstered through shared radar installations. México made available training areas for military training. And, México provided many of the war materials that were essential for making war.
Although many readers may not equate México with World War II or with D-Day, it was México friendship, coloration and the many Mexican nationals who fought that helped to defeat Hitler during World War II.
Unfortunately, today, the only thing you will hear from Donald Trump is that México is not doing enough to help America deal with its immigration problem.