Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to assemble a “deportation force” to relocate the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country unlawfully back to their home countries.
The business mogul discussed the initiative during the Nov. 10 Republican presidential debate.
After being pressed by the moderators and competing candidates about how he planned on relocating all of the immigrants in the U.S. illegally, Trump said that he would closely model an operation carried out by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose administration deported more than 1 million immigrants.
“They never came back,” Trump argued during the debate, according to ABC News. “Dwight Eisenhower. You don't get nicer, you don't get friendlier. They moved a million and a half people out. We have no choice. We have no choice."
Rival presidential candidates Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took turns criticizing Trump’s proposal, calling the plan impractical and inhumane.
“It’s a silly argument, it’s not an adult argument,” says Kasich. Bush concurred that mass deportations would be “not embracing American values and it would tear communities apart,” MSNBC reports.
On Nov. 11, Trump sat down on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” telling the hosts that his deportation force would be humane and effective.
“Look, we have to do what we have to do, and Ike did it and other people have done it,” says Trump, referring to Eisenhower once again, MSNBC reports.
The Eisenhower administration’s mass deportation during the 1950s was largely the removal of temporary or seasonal workers. It was unfortunately called “Operation Wetback,” ABC News reports.
“It was a military-style operation,” Columbia University professor Mae Ngai told ABC News. “They swept through Texas and California and also northern states and cities. Rounded people up, put them on planes, trains and ships … It was like a military operation and inhumane.”
Ngai adds that several of those transported out of the country during “Operation Wetback” died due to poor travel conditions and from sunstroke after being dumped in the Mexico heat without any resources.
"He’s [Trump] associating with Eisenhower, who was a nice guy, that this was a humane program and that’s false and completely dishonest,” Ngai said.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has also slammed Trump’s “deportation force.” On Nov. 11, she tweeted that “the idea of tracking down and deporting 11 million people is absurd, inhumane and un-American,” according to CNN.