Government & Politics

Trump's Immigration Plan Is Exactly Why He's So Appealing

The Donald goes with his strong suit in appeal to frustrated voters.

Nate Jackson · Aug. 17, 2015

As news broke over the weekend of yet another illegal alien accused of a triple homicide in Florida, the overwhelming sense for conservatives is that something has to be done about illegal immigration. While most Republican presidential candidates appear equivocal on the issue, as do Republican congressional “leaders,” Donald Trump is clear on his objections, and that resonates with a lot of Americans.

Trump has been the go-to candidate on the issue since his June 16 announcement speech, when he opined, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best; they’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Trump has now released the details of his plan, and it’s a master stroke to answer voter frustration.

He begins with three solid principles, the first of which is a direct quote from Ronald Reagan.

  1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

  2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

  3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

That such principles are so controversial is a mark of how dire our predicament really is, and the weakness of other GOP candidates in espousing them has left an opening for Trump.

Those principles are followed by several planks. “Make Mexico pay for the wall” is the first. How would he accomplish that? Increase the fees for legal immigration, which seems counterintuitive.

“Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards — of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico [Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options].”

If that idea (and the generally unhelpful antagonism toward Mexico) isn’t quite satisfactory, his other points are appealing — tripling the number of ICE officers, nationwide e-verify, mandatory deportation of criminal aliens, detention instead of catch-and-release, cut off federal funds for sanctuary cities, penalizing visa overstays, and, perhaps most important, end birthright citizenship.

As we have noted before, any debate about immigration is useless unless it begins with a commitment to securing our borders first. Trump appears to be seriously, if imperfectly, addressing this need.

We have also argued that birthright citizenship is a gross misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment, and Trump is right to target it. Such a move will, of course, be litigated all the way to the Supreme Court, but it’s a worthy fight.

In June, Trump said, “Give [illegal immigrants] a path [to citizenship]. You have to make it possible for them to succeed.” His plan now calls for allowing “the good ones” to come back once they’ve been deported. “I would get people out,” he said, “and I would have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal.”

While Trump’s plan is solid on Rule of Law and heavy on enforcement, where he comes up short is emphasizing that Liberty is colorblind. It’s not a “white thing.” Minorities could be forgiven for thinking Trump’s plan translates more closely to, “We don’t want any Mexicans here.” That may resonate with some in the GOP base, but it’s not going to expand that base.

Because Liberty transcends all racial, ethnic, gender and class distinctions, it will appeal to all freedom-loving people when properly presented. That said, it’s going to be awfully hard for any other GOP candidate to trump The Donald’s plan in the eyes of primary voters. The question of why it’s taken the rest of them so long to even try to address the issue is a baffling one.

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