Illegal immigration has been a central issue on the Republican side of the 2016 presidential campaign. Each of the candidates has offered their own, differing opinions on the issue. The fact that immigration is being discussed so openly and often this early in the race, however, is largely due to leading candidate Donald Trump’s outspokenness. Trump’s calls to build a wall on the Southern border of the United States, end birthright citizenship and deport thousands of immigrants currently residing here has drastically transformed the immigration debate. Months ago it would have been feasible for President Obama to take executive action on his own immigration plan, now it seems inevitable that the debate will carry through to the next election.
According to a recent poll, Trump’s rhetoric is having an effect on citizens. The poll found that nearly half of all Iowa Republican caucus-goers — 47 percent — believe the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be deported. The number is even higher among Trump supporters, of which 73 percent believe the deportations should take place.
As The Des Moines Register reports, many Iowa voters have adopted Trump’s nationalistic, xenophobic attitude towards non-Americans living in this country. One voter, 58-year-old Walter Allsup, spoke to the publication with a Trump-like frankness about race and immigration. “That’s what they do when they find Americans that are illegal in their country — they either send them back or throw them in jail. We’re crazy to let people come in and do anything they want like that,” Allsup said. “Race has nothing to do with it. I’m totally blind. I can’t tell what color they are anyway. … I don’t care if they’re from Liechtenstein.”
Trump’s immigration plan, the one definitive policy-related document his campaign has released thus far, has been criticized for the reactionary measures the real estate mogul would take against non-Americans if elected to the nation's highest executive office. The plan, which does call for the deportation of 11 million individuals currently living in the U.S., has also been dismissed as wildly unrealistic by candidates on both ends of the political spectrum. As Trump’s entire candidacy has shown, “realistic” is a relative term in the 2015 political climate. Trump’s sustained lead over his GOP rivals might not last until next November, but it’s obvious that his anti-immigrant rhetoric has already made an impact. The fact that such a large majority of Trump supporters in Iowa, as well as a near majority of Republican voters, are in favor of mass deportation hints at an uncertain future for the country. It's especially harrowing for the millions of undocumented people living here.
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