Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday praised the latest major legal setback to President Obama’s sweeping executive actions on immigration.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday sided with a lawsuit brought by Texas and 25 other states challenging the president’s executive actions, which would provide temporary status and a shield from deportation to as many as 4 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.
Speaking at the GOP presidential debate hosted by Fox Business Network on Tuesday, Trump said he hoped to see more from the courts in blocking the president’s broad executive measures.
“That was an unbelievable decision and we don’t have enough of those decisions,” Trump said. “That was a great day and frankly we have to stop illegal immigration.”
Trump has maintained that the entire population of undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., estimated to be just over 11 million people, should be promptly removed from the country. He went on to hail a controversial program under President Dwight Eisenhower, a mass deportation program with the derogatory moniker “Operation Wetback.”
“They moved a million and a half people out. We have no choice. We have no choice,” Trump said.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich jumped in to push back on Trump’s remarks, arguing that it is impractical to uproot millions of people from their homes and families.
“For the 11 million people – come on folks, we know we an’t pick them up and ship them across, back across the border. It’s a silly argument. It’s not an adult argument. Makes no sense,” Kasich said.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush noted the dire electoral prospects Republicans would face at the ballot box without the Latino vote. The GOP debate on immigration has largely been defined by it’s divisive rhetoric – a trend that Bush said would have blowback on the Republican Party.
“Even having this conversation sends a powerful signal, they’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now when they hear this. That’s the problem with this. We have to win the presidency. The way you win the presidency is have practical plans,” Bush said.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz jumped in later: “What was said was right: The Democrats are laughing because if Republicans join Democrats as the part of amnesty, we will lose.”
Cruz went on to go after debunked theories that allowing undocumented immigrants into the workforce would depress wages, taking a one-two punch against so-called mainstream media.
“I will say the politics of it would be very, very different if a bunch of lawyers or bankers were crossing the Rio Grande. Or if a bunch of people with journalism degrees were coming over and driving down the wages in the press,” Cruz said.
He continued: “For those of us who believe people ought to come to this country legally and we should enforce the law, we’re tired of being told ‘it is anti-immigrant.’ It’s offensive.”