A Critical Critique of Trump’s Immigration Plan

Photo by idobi on Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump released an immigration reform policy paper in August 2015. His proposals are unrealistic, and strikingly bare of any facts, figures, or concrete implementation plans. 

The wall

Trump makes the construction of a wall between the USA and Mexico the centerpiece of his immigration plan (along with mass deportation, but that’s discussed below). However, he provides no reason to believe that he can deliver on such a promise.

A border wall would cost tens of billions of dollars, and is an idea that experts have labeled ‘ludicrous,’ for multiple reasons.

Trump claims that he will make Mexico pay for the border wall, but doesn’t substantiate this claim with specifics about exactly how Mexico will acquiesce to American demands for billions of dollars. In fact, Mexico’s government has already unequivocally refused to finance Trump’s wall.

When grilled about his plan by Bill O’Reilly on Fox News, Trump’s response fundamentally boils down to “Mexico will pay for the wall because I say so.”

Birthright citizenship

In his plan, Trump promises to end birthright citizenship, but ignores the fact that doing so would be unconstitutional under both standing Supreme Court case law and the plain meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

It is highly doubtful whether ending birthright citizenship would be good policy. Most Americans disagree.

In any case, good ideas are useless unless they can be implemented. Trump gives no assurance that he will be able to convince the Supreme Court to reverse more than a hundred years of precedent. Likewise, he also provides no reason to believe that he can consolidate enough support to pass a constitutional amendment on the subject.

The deportation

In his plan, Trump refers to illegal immigrants 17 times. He doesn’t explicitly state his intention to deport them in so many words in his policy paper.

He has, however, since promised to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants in the US in multiple interviews and speeches. He has made doing so a central part of his immigration plan.

In spite of this, Trump fails to tell us how he plans to finance his deportation scheme. Estimates for the cost of deporting every single illegal immigrant in America can reach $935 billion, depending on the method of calculation.

To put that into perspective, that’s enough to buy five brand new iPad Airs for every single American, including every child, every grandmother,every politician, every student, every illegal immigrant, everyone.

Instead of iPads, you could use 935 billion dollars to give every resident of the United States $3000 in cash. If you don’t like iPads or cash, you could use 935 billion dollars to finance every single welfare program (minus Social Security and Medicare) for the next year.

Trump doesn’t deign, however, to give us even a clue as to where that 935 billion dollars is coming from. Mexico is obviously not going to pay it. Mexico’s total federal budget (as in everything) in 2014 was barely $350 billion, a fraction of the $935 billion required. Funding’s obviously also not coming from Donald Trump, whose total net worth is a paltry $4 billion.

If the American federal government foots the bill, that’s another nearly one trillion dollars tacked onto our growing national debt.

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