Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his immigration proposal after being pressed repeatedly for details on how exactly he would deport millions of illegal immigrants, saying it was doable and "cheap."
“You're going to have a deportation force, and you're going to do it humanely,” Trump told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in an exclusive interview, arguing that he would deport people with a policy similar to the one former President Dwight Eisenhower used to deport 1.5 million by the busload, dropping the immigrants off at remote parts of the border. "Look, we have to do what we have to do, and Ike did it and other people have done it."
He declined to get into specifics on how he’d ensure the humanity of it -- many died during Eisenhower's "Operation Wetback" -- or pay to deport the nation's estimated 11-12 million immigrants, but said it would be "cheap."
He added that the wall he wants to build along the southern border would be great -- and also more affordable than others expect.
"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.
Trump's tough-on-immigration stance has been central to his campaign since his June presidential announcement, when he said that some illegal immigrants are "rapists" and criminals.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pushed hard against Trump's proposals in Tuesday's fourth Republican presidential debate, saying, "12 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." Ohio Gov. John Kasich also jumped on Trump's immigration plan, saying, "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."
Trump argued on Wednesday that it is totally doable.
“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.”
Trump argued he'd make the legal immigration system easier as part of the reform.
"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."
Trump also argued that controlling the borders was part of the solution to the addiction issues the country faces, like the heroin epidemic that’s gripped parts of New Hampshire and Vermont in recent years.
“One of the things about the border, it’s coming over the border,” he said when asked about the addiction crisis. “It’s pouring over the border and you have so many people who are already hooked and it’s a strong hook.”
Trump voiced support for investing in rehabilitation clinics and facilities to help treat addiction, but shied from speaking about drug sentencing reform other than to say that “we need to be looking at” marijuana more seriously.