Donald Trump's surge to the top of the Republican polls has been fueled largely by generalized rhetoric rather than specific policy. A growing, enthusiastic group of supporters have been attracted to Trump's inflammatory statements on immigration, but the real estate mogul only recently outlined a detailed plan regarding the steps he would take to accomplish imigration reform. Capitalizing on populist energy is useful for winning early polls, but establishing realistic policy is what it will take for Trump to win the presidency.
Trump's immigration plan is titled, unsurprisingly, "Immigration Reform That Will Make America Great Again." It emphasizes the point Trump's been making across the campaign trail thus far: that the U.S. needs to build a wall on its Southern border. It also explains how the U.S. could force Mexico into paying for the construction of that wall. Trump's plan includes increasing fees on temporary visas and border crossing cards, as well as impounding "all remittance payments derived from illegal wages." The plan is essentially a form of extortion, penalizing Mexicans for even visiting the United States until their government agrees to fund a wall along the border.
The plan also calls for the implementation of an e-verify system nationwide in order to ensure all workers are eligible for employment in the United States. It aims to defund sanctuary cities, impose harsher penalties for visa overstays, and end birthright citizenship. Trump claims the U.S. needs to triple the amount of ICE officers. Trump's plan would treat immigration like criminal activity.
Although all of the Republican candidates support stronger borders and stricter immigration laws, Trump is the most outspokenly nationalistic. His immigration document claims that a nation that lacks borders or laws and does not serve its own citizens is "not a nation." His plan to "make America great again" involves sealing off the borders, reducing the amount of foreign workers, and demonizing the U.S.'s southern neighbor.
The U.S. has always thrived as a nation of immigrants, welcoming to those around the world seeking a better life and opportunity. Trump's plan would alter that fundamental value of American society, yet it also addresses the realities of the modern American economy. While ending birthright citizenship, defunding sanctuary cities and emphasizing detention over catch-and-release could be disastrous for innocent and hardworking immigrants and their families, Trump understands that our current policies do not foster a welcoming environment for working Americans. Like Bernie Sanders, the candidate inspiring a similar populist movement on the left, Trump talks about restoring America's crumbling middle class. He bluntly addresses the country's true unemployment rates — nearly 40 percent for black teenagers, nearly 30 percent for Hispanic teenagers. His immigration plan is strict and unforgiving, yet it's rooted in good intention for the struggling American middle class.
Whereas Sanders wants to bring undocumented Americans out of the shadows, Trump wants to criminalize them. Other GOP candidates have different ideas. Trump's document also takes shots at Sen. Marco Rubio, claiming "the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill was nothing more than a giveaway to the corporate patrons who run both parties." He also calls Rubio "Mark Zuckerberg's personal Senator," alluding to the fact that Facebook has lobbied for more H-1B visas that allow tech companies to pay foreign workers lower wages for jobs that could theoretically be filled by skilled American workers. As with many of Trump's statements, his immigration document is filled with several bombastically nationalistic opinions as well as some harsh truths about the uncertain future of the American economy. At least in this case the candidate is establishing specific policy, no matter how unrealistic or detrimental some of those plans may be.
Image Source: Business Insider