Donald Trump, who first surged to the front of the Republican field on the strength of his hyperbole on immigration, has finally put out specific proposals.
Unsurprisingly for him but unfortunately for the rest of us, Trump’s first policy paper of the campaign is at best impractical, at worst utter nonsense.
Issue papers from presidential candidates are often overoptimistic wish lists, but Trump’s plan is flawed in so many ways, it’s difficult to know where to start.
One big idea is that Mexico will pay for an impenetrable wall along the 2,000-mile border to avoid sanctions. No matter how great a deal-maker Trump may be, that’s ludicrous. And where would Trump get the money to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers?
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Another proposal is to do away with birthright citizenship – if you’re born in the United States, you’re automatically a citizen – for the children of undocumented immigrants. Trump glosses over the fact that it’s in the U.S. Constitution, and that the odds of taking it out are slim and none.
Cutting off the money that undocumented workers send home to Mexico and Central America and increasing fees for legal border crossings would backfire and damage the economies on both sides, according to actual experts. Mexico is the second-largest trading partner of the United States and is California’s biggest export market by far.
Trump gets applause by accusing Mexico of exporting “rapists.” But there are thousands of highly skilled and educated Mexicans who are working here, as Tim Johnson of McClatchy Newspapers reports. These are the bright and ambitious immigrants who have always strengthened America.
Trump’s plan plays on fear, and carrying it out would inevitably mean mass deportations. Anyone who’s not a diehard supporter has to admit this is not a serious solution to fix our broken immigration system.
Responsible Republicans support comprehensive reform that would strengthen the border, but that also recognizes the reality of the millions of undocumented immigrants who have established lives here. California is leading the way for humane policies.
Despite his shallow campaign – basically calling others names and bragging about himself – Trump keeps rising in the polls. At some point soon, voters have to treat him as a serious candidate. That means demanding more than just tough talk.