When Donald Trump says that as president, he would deport all of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, the question invariably comes up: Just how would that be done?
In Tuesday’s GOP debate, the fourth one so far, both Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush balked when Trump repeated his intention to deport all undocumented immigrants. They said, among other things, that it was impossible.
On Wednesday, Trump addressed how he would track down and deport a population that exceeds that of some entire nations – he’d have “a deportation force,” he said.
“You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely,” Trump told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The force, he said, would deport people in a way similar to the way that former President Dwight Eisenhower did when he expelled some 1.5 million, taking them on buses to remote areas of the U.S.-Mexico border and just dropping them there.
“Look, we have to do what we have to do,” Trump said, “and Ike did it and other people have done it.”
MSNBC later noted on its website that many died in the midst of Eisenhower’s deportation effort, called “Operation Wetback,” and that Trump refused to offer details about he would ensure that a mass roundup and removal of immigrants would be humanely conducted.
MSNBC also said that Trump did not explain the cost of such a massive undertaking, other than to say it would be inexpensive.
“People will leave, people will leave, they’re going to go back where they came from. That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Trump said. “They can come back, but they have to come back legally.”
He also spoke of the wall he has vowed to build along the border.
“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,” he said.
“There’s going to be a big beautiful nice door,” Trump said. “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. We don’t even know how many people. We don’t know if it’s 8 million or if it’s 20 million.”
At the debate on Tuesday, Bush, who has long supported a moderate approach to immigration reform, said in response to Trump’s mass deportation promise: “Twelve million illegal immigrants — to send them back 500,000 a month is just not possible, and it’s not embracing American values and it would tear communities apart.”
Kasich admonished Trump, urging him to be more pragmatic and compassionate.
Kasich, looking at Trump, told him to think of the families that would suffer in a mass deportation.
“Think of the children,” he said.
“Come on, folks, we all know you can’t pick them up and ship them back across the border. It’s a silly argument, it’s not an adult argument.”