Immigration is one of the most commonly disputed political subjects in America. Most are either against allowing foreigners into the country or support helping other nations. Very rarely does one find a person who straddles the fence on this topic. This sample politics essay will explore President Donald Trump’s immigration reform plans and his proposal to build the Great Wall separating Mexico and the U.S.
The U.S. presidential candidates
There is an unprecedented amount of candidates in the race for the United States presidency in 2016; among them many republicans and many democrats (Masters). As of this writing, there were fourteen Republicans running (not including the suspended campaigns for Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry) and three Democrats (not including the suspended campaign of Lincoln Chafee) (Masters). The
The Republicans are:
- Jeb Bush
- Ben Carson
- Chris Christie
- Ted Cruz
- Carly Fiorina
- Jim Gilmore
- Lindsey Graham
- Mike Huckbee
- John Kasich
- George Pataki
- Rand Paul
- Marco Rubio
- Rick Santorum
- Donald Trump
The Democrats are:
- Hillary Clinton
- Martin O’Malley
- Bernie Sanders
The main issues in the 2016 presidential race
The main issues facing United States presidential candidates this year and in the upcoming 2016 elections are:
- National security
- Conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa
- Women’s equality in American
- Race relations in America
Healy noted that even the issues are still up for debate in this presidential race. Republican candidates seem focused on national security, abortion, taxes, regulations, social welfare programs, enforcing immigration laws, and preserving gun rights. The Democratic candidates are focused on these same issues but support more gun laws, immigration reform, counteracting climate change, protecting African-Americans from injustice and inequality, and providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants (Healy).
As Christopher Durang (a playwright with political and social satire leanings) observed, the proven false abortion video claims of Carly Fiorina and the Democratic belief that the economy is great for everyone in the United States leaves people to “wonder what country all these candidates live in.”
Donald Trump’s proposals
Donald Trump is a real-estate developer and “fired” reality-TV star whom Graham notes is most likely not worth as much as he purports to be. Trump is sixty-nine years old, and was born in Queens, New York, as one of five children (Bio). According to Collinson of CNN, Donald Trump’s domination of the Republican party “has been brewing…for decades.”
Collinson believes Trump’s lead in the presidential race is due to a basic anger in the Republican party and a revolt against establishment party leaders that was also demonstrated in the fiascos surrounding John Boehner and Eric Cantor’s resignations.
Collinson also admits that Trump’s “charismatic appeal” (some might not call it that) is also a strong part of his current lead in the presidential Republican race, citing his ability to manipulate social media and television to his strongly to his advantage. Among the claims against Trump are that he helped the rumor that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and fueled popular negative opinions against illegal immigrants in the United States (Collinson).
Trump’s Hispanic rhetoric
As Estevez noted in her September 3rd Forbes article on Donald Trump, the candidate “sparked outrage among Mexicans and Latinos” when he stated something to the effect that Mexico sends it’s unwanted to the United States, specifically calling them rapists and criminals and stating that the United States should erect a “human-proof wall on the U.S.-Mexico border” to prevent immigrants from coming to the country he is running for election in.
One of Trump’s controversial immigration plans calls for the deportation of 6 million undocumented Mexican workers along with all other undocumented workers in the United States (a group which totals 11.3 million) and prevent babies born to undocumented workers from obtaining citizenship rights or papers (Estevez). Estevez’ article noted the incorrect assumptions made by Trump and the truth about each of his statements. First, Estevez stated:
“data shows that…immigration is associated with lower crime rates and immigrants are less likely than the native-born to be serious criminals.”
Second, falling rates of serious crimes like assault, robbery, murder, and rape have occurred since 1990, although unauthorized immigration has increased nearly three-fold (Estevez). Third, Estevez noted that Trump’s “impenetrable” border wall will not keep people out – the 650 miles of fence already erected has not achieved this goal, and neither will Trump’s; and his constant reiteration that Mexico’s government would agree to help pay for his wall is unfounded and unconfirmed.
Fourth, Trump has indicated that immigration from Mexico is “completely out of control” even as the Pew Research Center’s data indicates that unauthorized Mexican immigration has declined by 1 million and that more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than entering it (Estevez). Finally, Trump claims that Mexico is “killing [the U.S.] economically” when in fact the United States’ GDP is 13 times that of Mexico, and its per capita income is four times that of Mexico (Estevez).
The Hispanic view on Trump and his deportation plans
It is clear from Estevez’ article that not everyone agrees with Donald Trump, and rhetoric is just that, rhetoric. CNN’s article by Rosa Flores noted that Trump’s assertions that those with birthright citizenship in the United States might have that right rescinded is troubling for successful businesses in Chicago, run by children of Mexican immigrants.
Trump’s campaign constantly used phrases like the “Country is going to hell” due to laws allowing citizen birthrights to immigrants, and seems particularly focused on Mexican immigrants, although they are not the only people immigrating to the United States (Flores). Trump indicated that he does not think their American citizenships would hold up in court, and said he would like to “test it out” in the court system, and deport all undocumented immigrants, only allowing the “good ones” to return through another “expedited” legal process (Flores).
He has not said what this process would be as of yet. There are many aspects of the process which Trump has not addressed, such as how families would be allowed to stay together if this mass deportation takes place; both Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, running against Trump in the Republican party, oppose repealing the 14th amendment which grants birthright citizenship in the United States (Flores).
In the wake of his many negative and threatening comments, The Washington Post reported:
“immigrant rights activists have vowed to sign up 1 million immigrants…for citizenship and then quickly register them to vote” in order to “punish” Donald Trump for his intense rhetoric against them.
Since Hispanics are now the second-largest racial or ethnic group in the United States after whites, Hispanic leaders believe they can accomplish this feat (The Washington Post).
Differences between Trump and Obama’s immigration and deportation plans
Obama’s immigration proposals are part of the backlash in the Republican party over immigration in 2015, as he allowed 700,000 illegal immigrants to remain in the United States with no danger of deportation, work permits, and Social Security number and driver’s license access (The Washington Post). His November 2014 attempt to grant the same status to up to 3.7 million parents of children born in the United States was halted by the courts as an “illegal use of executive power” (The Washington Post).
Luis V. Gutierrez noted:
“the undocumented are in the same families as the legal permanent residents and the U.S. citizens…those families are going to mobilize” (The Washington Post).
In opposition to Gutierrez and other Hispanic leaders, Alfonzo Aguilar sees the attempt to get the Hispanics to vote against Trump and the Republican party as “crass pandering to Latinos to get their vote” and believes that the idea is insulting (The Washington Post). Aguilar ran the citizenship office under the Bush administration and doubts that the effort to get more Hispanics to vote will work (The Washington Post).
Feasibility of Trump’s deportation plan
Leopold claims Trump’s plans aren’t possible because of the current challenges facing immigration. He noted that Trump’s description of undocumented immigrants as part of the “dumping ground for the rest of the world” and the enthusiastic reaction of the “nearly all-white crowd” was shocking. Trump, according to Leopold, believes that this will happen in 18 months to two years with “good management.” According to Leopold, such a plan would involve locating, arresting, and forcibly removing men, women, and children roughly equal in number to the entire state of Ohio’s population.
All of this would come after the repeal of the 14th Amendment, which granted all birthright qualifiers citizenship in the first place (Leopold). Leopold suggests that agricultural towns and fields would be crawling with Department of Homeland Security enforcement agents if such a plan were to come to fruition, and brings to mind the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) antics of 2008 in a meat packing facility in Postville, Iowa.
Almost 400 undocumented immigrants were arrested and loaded aboard helicopters and prison buses only to be transported to the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo to await trial and deportation (Leopold). The likelihood of this occurring in two years is highly doubtful, even putting aside the massive court battle that would ensue if Trump attempted to eradicate the 14th Amendment.
Immigrants herded into makeshift prisons
Leopold pointed out that, in order to find undocumented immigrants, the U.S. would have to employ similar tactics to those used in the Holocaust-era Hitler campaigns; knocking on doors, questioning legal U.S. citizens, and trying to locate people who might be in hiding during the campaign. Leopold asks the following questions of Trump’s massive immigration prevention plan:
- Would U.S. citizens become informants on their own friends and families?
- Would some inform on their neighbors out of retribution or vengeance?
- Would the undocumented become the targets of monetary, goods, or services exploitation in return for refusing to tell homeland security agents about their illegal status?
These are all pertinent questions, and questions that Trump and those on his campaign have not seriously considered. In light of Leopold’s article, the comparison to Hitler may not be too far off. In addition to these possibilities, the plan might end up costing the United States $100-$200 billion over the life of the campaign, money which might be spent elsewhere to the great benefit of the legal citizenry of the United States (Leopold).
Leopold’s analysis of Trump’s deportation plan further notes that it ignores the Constitution of the United States and the provisions therein, the separation of powers in the U.S. government, and the checks and balances which would prevent the plan from becoming law at the moment he was elected President — not to mention the millions of United States citizens who are staunchly opposed to his plan.
American response to Trump’s deportation plans
According to Kehaulani Goo of the Pew Research Center:
“there is little support for an effort to deport all those in the U.S. illegally” but past surveys have found support for the U.S.-Mexico border wall and eradicating the 14th Amendment.
Consistently, the majority of Republicans have favored immigration policies that allow a path to legal status for illegal immigrants in the United States, although many also worry that this might lead to a tacit agreement for the illegal behavior of immigrants (Kehaulani Goo). According to Pew, 72 percent of Americans believe undocumented immigrants who live in the United States should be allowed to stay if they meet certain requirements, and only 17 percent of the polled public believed in a:
“national law enforcement effort to deport” illegal immigrants already in the country (Kehaulani Goo).
In addition, a 2013 survey noted that 76 percent of Republicans believe a plan to deport all illegal immigrants in the U.S. to be “unrealistic” (Kehaulani Goo).
Bio. “Donald Trump.” Bio. Bio, 2015. Web. 14 December 2015.
Collinson, Stephen. “How Donald Trump Took the Republican Party by Storm.” CNN. Cable News Network, 2015. Web. 14 December 2015.
Estevez, Dolia. “Debunking Donald Trump’s Five Extreme Statements About Immigrants and Mexico.” Forbes. Forbes, 2015. Web. 14 December 2015.
Flores, Rosa. “Birthright Citizenship Issue Hits Home for Chicago Business Couple.” CNN. Cable News Network, 2015. Web. 14 December 2015.
Graham, David A. “The 2016 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group, 2015. Web. 14 December 2015.
Healy, Patrick. “Even the Issues are in Debate in 2016 Race.” New York Times. The New York Times Company, 2015. Web. 14 December 2015.
Kehaulani Goo, Sara. “What Americans Want to Do About Illegal Immigration.” Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, 2015. Web. 14 December 2015.
Leopold, David. “The Shocking Reality of Donald Trump’s Plan to Deport Millions.” MSNBC. NBC Universal, 2015. Web. 14 December 2015.
Masters, Jonathan. “The Presidential Candidates; In Their Own Words.” Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, 2015. Web. 14 December 2015.
The Washington Post. “Hispanic Activists Vow to Flood Voter Rolls with 1 Million Immigrants, Punish Trump, GOP at Polls.” The Washington Post. The Washington Times, LLC, 2015. Web. 14 December 2015.