President Obama blasted Donald Trump’s suggestion to bring back President Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback” plan and use “Deportation Forces” to kick some 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the country.
Obama didn’t hold back while speaking to ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an to exclusive interview., “Well, I think the name of the operation tells you something about the dangers of looking backwards.”
Watch here via ABC News (note, this part of the video only plays sometimes, so you need to refresh it if you don’t see it, it’s at the beginning of the clip):
The President continued, “The notion that we’re gonna deport 11, 12 million people from this country — first of all, I have no idea where Mr. Trump thinks the money’s gonna come from. It would cost us hundreds of billions of dollars to execute that.”
Trump has never said how he would fund his massive deportation plan.
But when one is dealing with Donald Trump, one finds oneself having to slowly explain the obvious, so President Obama continued, “Imagine the images on the screen flashed around the world as we were dragging parents away from their children, and putting them in what, detention centers, and then systematically sending them out.”
In other words, if compassion isn’t enough, maybe the whole idea of freedom and being the land of opportunity gets a little tarred if one is dragging children away from their parents. Not a good look.
“Nobody thinks that that is realistic,” the President said. “But more importantly, that’s not who we are as Americans.”
Operation Wetback was, as the Washington Post’s editorial board called it, a “grotesquely inhumane” 1950’s immigration plan that sent few hundred thousand people, and some were U.S. citizens, to Mexico. An unknown number of them died. The Post also pointed out that the horrific treatment of the people has been compared to slave ships.
The President said that while there has always been an anti-immigrant strain among some people, “It’s the job of leaders not to play into that sentiment.”
Clearly he is not a fan of Trump as president, “We don’t want, I think, a president or any person in a position of leadership to play on those kinds of fears.”
During the Fox Business GOP debate, both Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) and former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FLA) seemed appalled, outraged even, by Trump’s suggestion. Kasich was on fire on the issue, and seemed disgusted with Trump’s suggestion. But both Kasich and Bush are polling very poorly, as being seen as compassionate toward undocumented immigrants is a non-starter with Republican primary voters this election.
While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is also running for president and is behind Trump’s “Operation Wetback” redux, even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) doesn’t think it’s feasible. It’s worth pointing out that even Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly thinks it was inhumane.
Speaking to Scott Pelley on CBS’ “60 Minutes”, Ryan said he doesn’t think Trump’s plan would ever pass the House of Representatives.
So it seems much of Washington, including some Republicans and even at least one pundit at Fox News, find Donald Trump’s immigration plan troubling. Trump’s immigration ideas are frankly dangerous and irresponsible, and deserve the derision President Obama gave them. The name “Operation Wetback” does indeed say it all. We do not need to be going backward.
More of the President’s interview will be released tomorrow morning, with the full interview playing on Sunday.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.