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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 9 years ago

Why did Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer launch a series of raids against suspected communists?

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    Working with Bureau of Immigration officials, Palmer decided to launch a massive round-up of aliens (non-U.S. citizens) suspected of having revolutionary views. The purpose of these "Red Raids" was to arrest and deport so-called dangerous foreigners before they could bring about a violent revolution in America. However, during and after the raids, government agents violated virtually every element of "due process of law" mentioned in the Constitution.

    The Palmer "Red Raids"

    Building on earlier immigration laws, Congress passed the Deportation Act of 1918 with three purposes in mind. This law authorized the deportation of any alien who: [1] opposed all organized government (anarchism); [2] advocated the overthrow of the government "by force or violence"; or [3] belonged to any organization teaching these views. For example, the Secretary of Labor eventually ruled that the Communist Party advocated violent revolution. Therefore, any alien who was a member of that organization could be deported. The Bureau of Immigration (then part of the Department of Labor) often decided who would be deported under this law.

    Even though deportation matters were not normally the concern of the Department of Justice, Attorney General Palmer soon created an alliance with officials in the Bureau of Immigration to find and deport alien "reds." J. Edgar Hoover, Palmer's chief investigating officer, ordered Justice Department agents to go undercover and join suspected radical organizations.

    By December 1919, Palmer, Hoover, and their allies in the Bureau of Immigration had decided to arrest alien members of the Communist Party and other foreign radicals. Hoover issued the instructions to Department of Justice agents which called for the arrests to take place during a series of raids planned for the evening of January 2, 1920.

    The Palmer "Red Raids" took place on schedule in more than 30 cities, located mainly in eastern states. Between six and ten thousand people were arrested. In many cases, arrest warrants had not been issued until after individuals found themselves in custody. Moreover, Department of Justice agents rarely carried search warrants during the raids. Nevertheless, the raiders seized political literature, membership cards and lists, organization records, and other papers. Very little evidence of revolutionary or criminal activity actually turned up. Days after the raids, thousands of aliens were still being held without formal charge, without bail, without the assistance of a lawyer and in many cases, without family or friends knowing where they were. ,< i hope i helped

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