Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump outlined his immigration policies yesterday during a wide-ranging television interview.
The policies – outlined in an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press” and in a position paper posted on his campaign website – include denying citizenship rights to babies of illegal immigrants born in the US, forcing Mexico to pay to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, tripling the number of border security officials, the mandatory deportation of all “criminal aliens,” and rescinding President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“They’re illegal,” Mr. Trump said, describing US-born children of people living illegally in the country. “You either have a country or not.”
Children born on US soil have been automatically considered American citizens since the adoption of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution in 1868. Republicans in Congress have since 2011 repeatedly tried and failed to pass bills aimed at ending “birthright citizenship,” and the odds of repealing that clause in the amendment would be steep – requiring support from two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-fourths of the country’s state legislatures.
Rescinding Obama’s executive actions on immigration – which, if enacted, could protect as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation – would be much easier. The November 2014 actions were halted by temporary injunctions from several federal courts in rulings challenging Obama’s executive powers to alter immigration policies without congressional approval. The cases could eventually reach the Supreme Court.
“We have to make a whole new set of standards,” Trump said. “And when people come in, they have to come legally.”
In his position paper, Trump said he would pay for the tripling of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers by eliminating tax credit payments to illegal immigrants. And he said that if Mexico did not agree to pay for the wall he would increase fees on temporary visas for Mexican chief executives, diplomats, and North American Free Trade Agreement workers.
“The Mexican government has taken the United States to the cleaners,” he said on his website. “They are responsible for this problem, and they must help pay to clean it up.”
Trump would also impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages and increase fees at ports of entry from Mexico, according to the paper. He would also increase penalties for people who overstay their visas, and he would raise the bar for the admission of refugees and asylum-seekers.
Immigration policy has been the epicenter of Trump’s political establishment-shaking campaign. In a speech launching his presidential bid he claimed that Mexico was sending criminals and rapists to the US.
But as evidenced by his continued success in the polls, Trump’s alarmist rhetoric has found many sympathetic ears from the grassroots to the US Congress. In particular, he has been gaining plaudits for policies he says will improve job prospects for domestic workers of all kinds.
His plan has been endorsed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama, chair of a Senate subcommittee on immigration.
“This is exactly the plan America needs,” Sessions said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “Crucially, this plan includes an emphasis on lifting struggling minority communities, including our immigrant communities, out of poverty, by preventing corporations from bringing in new workers from overseas to replace them and drive down wages.”
Trump has said he would also pause the issuing of green cards to foreign workers so employers would have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed workers. He said his policies would not only be a boon for immigrant communities, but for the women’s workforce as well.
“This will help reverse women’s plummeting workplace participation rate, grow rages, and allow record immigration levels to subside to more moderate historical averages,” he said in the online policy paper.
Writing last week, The Monitor’s Husna Haq said that Trump – a billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star – has maintained his success on the campaign trail by leveraging American fears and anxieties.
“When Trump makes inflammatory remarks about illegal immigration, for example, he is appealing to working class nervousness about job stability. His success in business and real estate make him an aspirational candidate of sorts, who points to his own success as proof that he can bring Americans success.”
His more detailed immigration policies have not been entirely dismissed by the rest of the crowded GOP presidential field either. Most other candidates support completing the border wall and bolstering border security, but differ over how to treat immigrant families already living in the US.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in his own immigration plan that he would reinforce the border with forward bases and drones. Ohio Gov. John Kasich – arguably the most centrist of the Republican candidates – said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” yesterday that he would “finish the wall” but would also work to legalize 11 million immigrants estimated to be living in the country illegally.