Two new polls out this week show Donald Trump maintaining a double digit lead over his nearest competitor. Fox News Poll; Latest CNN Republican Poll Has Donald Trump at 24%.
On Monday, “The Donald” released his immigration plan, which is detailed on his website. He calls for construction of a wall along the Mexican border, vowing to “make Mexico pay” for it; an end to birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants (“anchor babies”); the defunding of sanctuary cities; the strengthening of immigration enforcement; a moratorium on new on H-1B visas issued to workers abroad, and a hire Americans first policy: and a whole lot more. Of course, he has no clue how he is going to accomplish this or to pay for it.
It is essentially a collection of every xenophobic, anti-immigrant, nativist and racist idea from the far-right fringe over the past decade or so, that are now being “mainstreamed” in the GOP. Several of Trumps rivals are also adopting Trump’s far-right anti-immigrant positions. As the Washington Post reports, Trump is driving migrant debate among GOP field:
The ideas once languished at the edge of Republican politics, confined to think tanks and no-hope bills on Capitol Hill. To solve the problem of illegal immigration, truly drastic measures were necessary: Deport the undocumented en masse. Seize the money they try to send home. Deny citizenship to their U.S.-born children.
Now, all of those ideas have been embraced by Donald Trump, the front-runner in the Republican presidential race, who has followed up weeks of doomsaying about illegal immigrants with a call for an unprecedented crackdown.
On Monday, Trump’s hard turn was already influencing the rest of the GOP field. In Iowa, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also began to call for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, echoing a longtime Trump demand. Walker said the separation barrier between Israel and the Palestinian territories is proof that the concept could work here.
Walker also seemed to echo Trump by questioning “birthright citizenship,” the constitutional provision that grants citizenship to anyone born in this country. After a reporter asked if birthright citizenship should be ended, Walker said: “I think that’s something we should — yeah, absolutely, going forward.”
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A debate over harsh immigration measures could mean an even bigger headache for Republican leaders, who are desperate to attract more Latino voters. “If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence,” the party concluded in its “autopsy” of the 2012 presidential election loss.
Now, however, Trump has committed to a plan that is detailed and ambitious, with none of that trust-me ambiguity. For now it is the only formal plank in his campaign platform; on his Web site, it is the only position listed under the category “Positions.”
“What you have to give to Trump is, whatever way he’s done it, he has pushed this front and center,” said Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, which wants to lower overall U.S. immigration, legal and illegal. The elites of the Republican Party, Beck said, “absolutely did not want this discussed in this debate. And instead it’s front and center. It’s strange, but it is the triumph of the working class of the Republican Party.”
Still, on Monday, even some who supported the ideals of Trump’s plan said they weren’t sure it would actually work. It would require a massive extension of federal authority into maternity wards and Western Union offices, tracing the parentage of children and money to deny illegal immigrants a comfortable spot in U.S. society.
“If we could get 12 million people to leave, why don’t we just do that now? This idea that we’re going to get ’em all to leave, and we’re going to get the good ones back, it’s a fairy tale,” said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which seeks to reduce illegal immigration. “It’s just not the way that government could function. It’s dopey. It’s a gimmick.”
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The most ambitious idea in Trump’s immigration policy would be to overturn birthright citizenship. That right is rooted in the 14th Amendment and another law passed after the Civil War. Both intended to guarantee citizenship for freed slaves, but it was clear that they would also give immigrants’ children a place in America.
“Will [it] not have the effect of naturalizing the children of Chinese and Gypsies born in this country?” then-Sen. Edgar Cowan (R-Pa.), who opposed the bill, asked in the Senate.
“Undoubtedly,” said Sen. Lyman Trumbull (D-Ill.), who supported it, according to the Congressional Research Service. An 1898 Supreme Court decision, United States vs. Wong Kim Ark, involving the child of Chinese immigrants, confirmed that birth in the United States was enough.
Trump, however, says the policy cannot continue. “This remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration,” says a policy paper on his Web site.
Beyond Walker, two other Republicans in the 2016 race — former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — have expressed support for ending the provision this year. Two others, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), have supported it in the past.
But Trump is the front-runner, making his backing especially invigorating for the idea’s long-thwarted proponents on Capitol Hill.
“Trump is strong enough that he can do that,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who proposed the Birthright Citizenship Acts of 2011, 2013 and 2015, none of which got out of their subcommittees in the GOP-run House. “He has injected this into the presidential debate, and now the rest of them will have to run to catch up with him on the immigration issue.”
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Another controversial Trump idea is the mass deportation of illegal immigrants. His campaign has embraced concepts similar to Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” plan from the 2012 race: Under tougher enforcement, some immigrants will leave on their own.
If they don’t, Trump has said, he’s willing to round them up and send them home. This part of his plan, for now, is short on details.
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It also would not be easy — or cheap.
The American Action Forum, a conservative research organization, estimated that deporting all of the country’s undocumented immigrants would take 20 years and cost between $420 billion and $619 billion. It also found that the move would hurt the economy as workers vanished and would put a vast new strain on the U.S. legal system.
“You need prosecuting attorneys, and you need enough judges and magistrates,” said Thad Bingel, who served as the chief of staff of Customs and Border Protection in the George W. Bush administration.
Trump’s crackdown would also try to stop illegal immigrants from sending money out of the United States, by “impound[ing] all remittance payments derived from illegal wages.” That task could require new checks on those wiring money — which, in turn, could spawn new strategies by immigrants to avoid those checks.
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Other strategies laid out by Trump seek to lower legal, as well as illegal, immigration.
For one thing, Trump would make it more expensive for U.S. companies to bring in skilled workers on H-1B visas. And he would place a moratorium on new green cards issued to workers abroad, to allow overall immigration levels to “subside to more moderate historical averages,” in the words of Trump’s policy paper.
Those ideas are at odds with many mainstream Republicans, who have sought to increase the number of highly skilled immigrants coming to this country legally. They also clash with a statement Trump himself had been using on the campaign trail — that his “great, great wall” would have a door.
“I don’t mind having a big, beautiful door in that wall so that people can come into this country legally,” Trump said as recently as this month’s Republican debate.
Birthright citizenship, the principle that infants born on U.S. soil automatically become citizens regardless of ancestry, was written into the Constitution as an explicit repudiation of Dred Scott. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” the Fourteenth Amendment begins, “are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
(The phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” excludes only a limited class of individuals who are not subject to U.S. law, such as the children of ambassadors. Children of undocumented immigrants remain bound by our laws so long as they reside in the United States, and thus are citizens if they are born here.)
Although the primary purpose of this citizenship provision in the Fourteenth Amendment was to overrule Dred Scott and grant full citizenship to former slaves and their descendants, early opponents of birthright citizenship also rooted many of their objections in nativist concerns.
Prior to the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which contained many of the same protections later enshrined in the amendment — including a birthright citizenship provision. As Elizabeth Wydra explains, some members of Congress expressed concerns that this provision would extend citizenship to immigrant populations they viewed as undesirable, including “the Chinese population in California and the West, and the Gypsy or Roma communities in eastern states such as Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania Sen. Edgar Cowan, for example, expressed concern that the Civil Rights Act would “have the effect of naturalizing the children of the Chinese and Gypsies born in this country.” Meanwhile, the law’s supporters explicitly rejected these nativist concerns. As Sen. Lyman Trumbull explained, “the child of an Asiatic is just as much a citizen as the child of a European.”
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The view that citizenship by birth is a hereditary prize that can only be passed down by parents who enjoy privileged status, in other words, long predates Donald Trump. Nor, for that matter, is Trump’s specific claim that birthright citizenship acts as a “magnet” for immigrants he views as undesirable anything new. During the debate over the Fourteenth Amendment, Sen. Cowan renewed his nativist objection, warning that birthright citizenship would encourage more Chinese immigration to California and more Roma immigration to Pennsylvania.
But Cowan (and Trump’s) views did not carry the day in the immediate wake of the Civil War. The overwhelming majority of Congress and the state legislatures rejected the idea of tainted blood that drove the Dred Scott decision, and they wrote the principle of birthright citizenship into the Constitution itself.
But ending birthright citizenship has suddenly become a litmus test among the candidates in the GOP primary. Every Republican Is Racing To Change The Constitution. This Is Why That’s A Bad Idea:
A very strange idea is gaining currency among Republican presidential contenders: We should put a stop to the idea that people born in America are automatically U.S. citizens.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump suggested it in his immigration policy plan, then Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) said Trump pretty much stole his idea and we should “absolutely” consider ending this practice. The idea has also gained traction with less popular presidential candidates like Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA). Even “establishment” candidate Jeb Bush didn’t exactly go out of his way to denounce the idea. And Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) was actually one of the original members of Congress who suggested Republicans try this in 2010.
But aside from the fact that revoking birthright citizenship would require difficult changes to the Constitution (or at the very least, a dramatic reinterpretation of it from the Supreme Court), it’s also terrible from a policy perspective, and would likely make America’s immigration problems dramatically worse.
This is far-right fringe extremism, pure and simple. It is Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce, Steve King and SB 1070 all rolled up into one big ball-o’-hatred. And it is rapidly becoming the 2016 party platform of the GOP.
Donald Trump has exposed the ugly face of the GOP: it is a xenophobic, anti-immigrant, nativist and racist Know Nothing Party — the Mass Deportation Party.
“Pitchfork Pat” Buchanan’s “culture war” keynote address to the 1992 Republican National Convention, in which he described “a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America,” will pale by comparison to the level of vitriol and hatred we can look forward to hearing in speeches at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
UPDATE: You just knew this was going to happen: Birthers Question Eligibility Of Four Republican Candidates: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA).