MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — GOP frontrunner billionaire Donald Trump channeled former President Dwight Eisenhower during Tuesday evening’s Fox Business Channel.
“Let me just tell you that Dwight Eisenhower—a good president, great president,” Trump said after a back-and-forth with Ohio Gov. John Kasich where Kasich argued for mass amnesty for all the illegal aliens in America.
People liked him. I liked Ike. [That’s the] expression. ‘I Like Ike.’ Moved a million and a half illegal immigrants out of this country, moved them just beyond the border: They came back. Moved them again, beyond the border: They came back. Then moved them way south. They never came back.
Trump was touting Eisenhower’s deportation program, which was called “Operation Wetback.”
Back in 2006, the Christian Science Monitor detailed what Eisenhower did during Operation Wetback:
Fifty-three years ago, when newly elected Dwight Eisenhower moved into the White House, America’s southern frontier was as porous as a spaghetti sieve. As many as 3 million illegal migrants had walked and waded northward over a period of several years for jobs in California, Arizona, Texas, and points beyond,” the Christian Science Monitor wrote in 2006. “President Eisenhower cut off this illegal traffic. He did it quickly and decisively with only 1,075 United States Border Patrol agents – less than one-tenth of today’s force. The operation is still highly praised among veterans of the Border Patrol.
The newspaper continued describing the process Eisenhower went through by noting that on June 17, 1954, “Operation Wetback” began.
“Because political resistance was lower in California and Arizona, the roundup of aliens began there,” the CSM wrote.
Some 750 agents swept northward through agricultural areas with a goal of 1,000 apprehensions a day. By the end of July, over 50,000 aliens were caught in the two states. Another 488,000, fearing arrest, had fled the country. By mid-July, the crackdown extended northward into Utah, Nevada, and Idaho, and eastward to Texas. By September, 80,000 had been taken into custody in Texas, and an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 illegals had left the Lone Star State voluntarily.
Later in the piece, the CSM noted that the illegal aliens were deported much further south than the border.
“Unlike today, Mexicans caught in the roundup were not simply released at the border, where they could easily reenter the US. To discourage their return, Swing arranged for buses and trains to take many aliens deep within Mexico before being set free,” the CSM wrote. “Tens of thousands more were put aboard two hired ships, the Emancipation and the Mercurio. The ships ferried the aliens from Port Isabel, Texas, to Vera Cruz, Mexico, more than 500 miles south.”
The debate comments from Trump came after an exchange with Kasich that started when Trump was asked for his reaction to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a federal judge in Texas declaring President Obama’s executive amnesty unconstitutional.
“I was so happy yesterday when I saw that decision come down,” Trump said of the Fifth Circuit ruling.
That was an unbelievable decision and we don’t have enough of those decisions coming down. He did the executive order because nobody wants to listen to him even the Democrats so he just goes around signing executive orders. That was a great day. And frankly, we have to stop illegal immigration. It’s hurting us economically. It’s hurting us from every standpoint. It’s causing tremendous difficulty with respect to drugs and what that does to many inner cities in particular. It really was such an unbelievable moment because the courts have not been ruling in our favor. It was a 2-1 decision and it was a terrific thing that happened. I’ll tell you, we are a country of laws. We need borders. We will have a wall. A wall will be built. The wall will be successful and if you think walls don’t work all you have to do is ask Israel. The wall works, believe me.
Trump noted that illegal aliens need to be reunited with their families at “home” in their countries of origin.
“We have to bring people home,” Trump said. “We have to send people back. We’re a country of laws. We either have a country or we don’t have a country. We are a country of laws. They have to go out—they can come back, but they have to go out and hopefully they get back. We have no choice if we’re going to run our country properly and if we’re going to be a country.”
Later, after Kasich pushed to give amnesty to all the illegals and Trump made his comments about Eisenhower, Trump noted that America has “no choice” but to remove the illegal aliens from America.
“They [the Eisenhower administration] moved a million and a half people out,” Trump said. “We have no choice. We have no choice.”
After Kasich pushed for amnesty again—and Trump joked to the moderators that “you should let Jeb [Bush] speak”—Trump then laid out how Kasich’s, Bush’s and Sen. Marco Rubio’s amnesty plans are unfair to legal immigrants.
“We have millions of people in line right now wanting to come into this country,” Trump said. “That [a Kasich-Bush-Rubio amnesty] is very, very unfair to the people who want to come to our country legally—go through the process—they’re all in line and waiting. It’s very unfair to them. That I can tell you.”
Polling shows that a majority of Americans by and large support Trump’s deportation plan and oppose the Kasich-Bush-Rubio amnesty plan.
An Investors Business Daily poll earlier this cycle found that 59 percent of Americans back mass deportation of all the illegal aliens in America.
It’s worth noting that Eisenhower–a general before his election to the presidency–was, much like Trump, a political outsider.