While Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s immigration plan leaves significant questions about funding and logistics, the former reality television star doesn’t mince words when discussing his vision. A quick visit to his campaign website details a 10-point plan for immigration, which seeks to “put America first.”
Topping Trump’s immigration plan is the claim, that if elected president, he will build a wall along America’s southern border with Mexico — a wall that he insists Mexico will pay for. Additionally, Trump’s immigration plan calls for joint law enforcement efforts to immediately deport criminal aliens, as well as suspend the issuance of visas to any place where adequate screening cannot occur. Also included would be biometric tracking systems at U.S. ports of entry, a tripling of the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Though he offers scant detail about how to accomplish these goals, his plans for immigration haven’t failed to whip up his base of support.
Trump’s 10 Point Immigration Plan
Because Trump has spent his life primarily working as a businessman and reality television star, and hasn’t held a single political office in his life, it’s difficult to speculate about what he might be capable of accomplishing once in office.
However, when it comes to the first item on his 10-point immigration plan — building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — many argue the idea is totally unfeasible. In addition to requiring an act of Congress, such a project would cost billions of dollars, and be mired in the red tape of multiple federal and state agencies. Stretching more than 2,000 miles, the wall would also run through areas that are privately owned potentially, leading to civil suits.
In addition, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has stated unequivocally Mexico will not pay for the wall. Following a meeting with President Nieto in Mexico City, Trump told journalists they hadn’t discussed who would pay for the wall. Nieto added however, that he made it clear during the discussion Mexico wouldn’t be footing the bill.
When it comes to the issue of deportations, and the roundups that would occur, the total figure Trump has offered has fluctuated since he first began his run for president. At rallies around the country, he has discussed rounding up every immigrant in the country illegally, a number as high as 11 million. Currently, his website refers to an immediate deportation of the criminal element of those here illegally. According to a recent Washington Post article, this number could be as high as 6.5 million people.
Feasibility of Trump’s Plan
In a 2015 National Public Radio (NPR) piece exploring the feasibility of Trump’s immigration plan; various experts were interviewed about the issue of deportation. Immigration attorney Kerry Talbot, one of the negotiators involved in a 2013 federal immigration bill, dismissed the idea of mass deportation outright.
“That’s just not a solution that is workable,” Talbot said. “It’s not possible to deport 11 million people.”
Talbot added the diversity of the immigrants in the country illegally is something Trump fails to consider.
“You need to look at people’s connections to the U.S., what kind of contributions they’re making. And Trump doesn’t look at any of that. He just wants to deport everyone.”
In addition to covering the cost of conducting mass deportations, Trump’s Immigration plan would also include technological upgrades at U.S. ports of entry capable of acquiring and storing biometric data. All told, Trump’s Immigration Plan would be expensive and thus far, it’s also been scant on substantive details.
Whoever is elected president in November will have their work cut out for them when it comes to immigration reform. For years now, the question of what to do with illegal immigrants, whether summarily deport them, or offer a pathway to citizenship, has been a deeply divisive issue, both in terms of public opinion as well as legislative action.
But if Trump’s immigration plan is allowed to proceed, one thing is very likely: U.S. policy towards immigration will go from a challenging ordeal for countless families, to openly hostile, or worse.