During Tuesday night’s fourth GOP debate, many candidates relished the opportunity to bash Donald Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. “We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them … back across the border,” Ohio governor John Kasich said. “It’s a silly argument. It is not an adult argument. It makes no sense.”
“And it’s not embracing American values,” Jeb Bush added. “And it would tear communities apart. And it would send a signal that we’re not the kind of country that I know America is.”
On Morning Joe the following day, Donald Trump explained why he was right, as always, and his opponents were wrong. His plan is oh so realistic, Trump said, because he would employ a massive number of people to make it happen. “You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely,” he said, again referencing President Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback.” Dozens of immigrants died during the infamous deportation effort. ”Look, we have to do what we have to do,” he added, “and Ike did it and other people have done it.”
Later in the day, a reporter asked Trump about the fact that many people died when America last tried this in the 1950s. He didn’t really answer the question, according to the Boston Herald. “No, no, Eisenhower did it … and Eisenhower was a very popular president and a nice man. We either have a country, or we don’t.”
Not only will his immigration plan definitely work because a nice man did it once; it will also be “cheap,” although Trump did not explain how. He also did not offer any details on how he would assemble a deportation force — Trump has said he wants to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on the border — especially a very cheap one.
Trump’s deportation plan definitely isn’t a new one — he has been alluding to his affinity for Eisenhower’s methods for a while. In September, he told 60 Minutes that he would “round them all up in a very humane way, in a very nice way, and they’re gonna be happy, because they want to be legalized.”
The complaints of some of his opponents aren’t new either — back in August, Bush responded to Trump’s plan basically the same way as he did Tuesday night: “He wants everyone deported, which would tear family lives asunder … It’s not conservative and it’s not realistic and it does not embrace American values.” Hillary Clinton joined the party today, calling Trump’s “deportation force” idea “absurd.”
However, the criticism obviously hasn’t deterred Trump, who would probably love to throw the latest Economist/YouGov poll at his opponents. According to the survey, conducted last week, 49 percent of Republican voters think Trump is best qualified to handle the issue of immigration. The candidate in second place on this issue is “not sure.”
After Trump was asked about deportation forces Wednesday morning, he successfully managed to turn the conversation back to his favorite part about explaining his immigration policy: describing just how beautiful his border wall will be. “It’s going to be a Trump wall. It’s going to be a real wall. And it’s going to stop people and it’s going to be good … There’s going to be a big beautiful nice door,” Trump said on MSNBC. “People are going to come in and they’re going to come in legally. But we have no choice. Otherwise, we don’t have a country.”
According to Forbes, Trump mentions the “big, beautiful wall” 31 times in his new book, Crippled America.
His opponents might be able to say his plan to deport millions of people is not realistic, or they may say that his idea to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it won’t work — on Morning Joe, Trump made sure to point out that his border plan became a reality on SNL last week — but it is a bit difficult to debate whether a hypothetical wall will or will not be the most beautiful wall of all time. As he said in August, “I want it to be so beautiful because maybe someday they’re going to call it the Trump wall.”