“Wetback” is a derogatory term used in the United States to refer to Mexicans. The word mostly targets immigrants who don’t have the proper visa or permit to stay in the country. Generally used as an ethnic slur, the term was originally coined and applied only to Mexicans who entered the United States from Mexico by crossing the Rio Grande, which forms the border between Texas and Mexico, presumably by swimming or wading across the river and getting wet in the process. In 1954 the US government launched Operation Wetback, a deportation drive that sent Mexicans back to Mexico. Because of this, the word shifted to have a negative connotation. Because of its racist history and use a slur, there is no acceptable usage of the word wetback.
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