By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
An untold number of Orange County residents were deported in the 1950s, whether because of Operation Wetback or for violating the McCarran-Walter Act. In addition to the Santa Ana Four, the Los Angeles Committee for Protection of the Foreign Born (LACPFB) assisted in the cases of three other men.
Pablo Pallares was a 69-year-old resident of Santa Ana when immigration authorities arrested him on March 1, 1953, for "political opinions and progressive activities." His case file with the LACPFB consists of just two pages—a case record sheet and a plea for funds to raise $1,000 for bail—but does note that Pallares' case was eventually dismissed. The former orange picker died in Orange County in 1975.
The more prominent case involved La Habra residents Bernardo Diaz and Jose Bedolla. The two men visited Tijuana on Jan. 22, 1955, but were refused reentry into the United States by the Border Patrol. Both were legal residents—in fact, Diaz was an American citizen by birth. But immigration officials classified Diaz as a threat to national security because the Army had court-martialed him for desertion and punished Diaz with 18 months of hard labor in federal prison. Bedolla, meanwhile, had once overstayed his bracero visa but eventually legalized his status.
The LACPFB launched an education campaign on Bedolla and Diaz two months after their exile, similar to those of Justo Cruz and Elias Espinoza. They secured Bedolla's reentry into the United States on Nov. 17, but Diaz was still excluded. A pamphlet told readers how Diaz's wife was reduced to picking strawberries for 90 cents per hour but refused to apply for state aid because "this requires a declaration that her husband has intentionally failed to support her and their six children." Finally, William Samuels—the same lawyer who secured the release of Justo Cruz—appealed and won Diaz's case before the Bureau of Immigration Appeals in Washington, D.C. Diaz died in 1996 in Midway City.