The Curious Case of Donald Trump: Immigration
As the United States prepares to welcome President-Elect Donald Trump into the White House, the rest of the world holds its breath. Unanswered questions lie in limbo: Will a wall be built? Will trade relations with China be constrained? What will the relationship between Russia and the United States look like? What about the Iran deal? Only the next four to eight years will give a glimpse into what that will look like. Donald Trump has proposed an extensive slate of various foreign policies, but many wonder whether or not he will hold true to his word.
Every Campaign Has a Theme
In August of 2015, Donald Trump released his immigration plan on his campaign website. The plan honed in on three main focal points:
- “Prioritize the jobs, wages, and security of the American people.”
- “Establish new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first.”
- “Protect the economic well-being of the lawful immigrants already living here by curbing uncontrolled foreign worker admissions.”
He also includes a ten-point plan to “Put America First”, which requires Mexico to pay for the wall, ends sanctuary cities, and revokes President Obama’s executive amnesties.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Trump’s claim to fame during the primary season was that he brought the topic of illegal immigration to the debate forefront. This would eventually capture the endorsement of Jeff Sessions, who is acclaimed in the Senate for his hard stance on illegal immigration. The endorsement was the first by a sitting senator and it was announced two days before Super Tuesday, in which thirteen states, most of which are in the south, voted in the primary.
It’s Going to be Huge! Or is it?
Each election cycle, candidates promise what they will accomplish if they are elected. However, candidates rarely get most, if any, of their major goals passed or implemented when they are in office. Because of our government’s structure, it is very difficult for any one person to get something done. Even with a Republican majority in the House and the Senate, Donald Trump will find it very challenging to take on such a massive project. If a bill makes it through both bodies, a debt creeping toward the $20 trillion mark will leave many legislators hesitant to fund it. Some might think that Trump’s promise to have Mexico pay for the wall will actualize, but the chances of this happening are slim to none.
Although Trump has a record of not seeming to care what people say, he will soon be in a position of power that requires him to care about what everyone says. For most politicians, reelection is a top priority, and if Trump has any desire to run again in 2020, he will need to be receptive to what the American people are saying. According to a Gallup poll conducted in July 2016, 66% of respondents oppose building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The poll also reports that 84% of respondents are in favor of some sort of amnesty program, which will permit legal citizenship to illegal immigrants if they meet specific standards. Therefore, even if Trump is able to get legislation through both the House and Senate, and get it funded, he will still have a very hard time simultaneously building a wall along the border and satisfying those who elected him.
The Reality of Deportation
According to the most recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimate, conducted in 2012, there are more than 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. Another study from Pew Research reports that the number of illegal immigrants has stabilized since 2009, peaking in 2007 at 12.2 million. It also reports that the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico has been decreasing. The report explains,
“Populations went up for most unauthorized immigrants from Asia and Central America, but the number also ticked up for those from sub-Saharan Africa. Increases in the number of unauthorized immigrants from other countries mostly offset the decline in the number from Mexico.”
Another promise that Donald Trump made during his campaign was that he would deport all illegal immigrants currently residing in the U.S. Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, the reality in implementing this would be more difficult than building a border wall. The Gallup poll referenced earlier shows that only 32% of respondents favor deporting all immigrants back to their home country. Even if it were logistically feasible, the idea of task forces rounding people up to force them out of the country is not a popular one.