So now we know how Mexico is going to pay for that impenetrable wall Donald Trump is going to build along the southern border. And in his campaign’s first detailed policy “white paper,” we learn a few more things. Unfortunately for Trump and his chest-thumping supporters there is one thing in the way- the United States Constitution.
There is so much nonsense in his immigration position, but I will concentrate on only two issues- payment for the wall and birthright citizenship. Before that, however, let me just state that it is a policy so juvenile that it totally ignores the complexity of the situation which he addresses with all the sophistication of a bull in a china shop. To those jumping on his immigration bandwagon, let’s get back to reality- most of it is not going to happen UNLESS Trump, as President, becomes the equivalent of a dictator. Some of his “ideas” do overlap with the more sane and doable aspects of plans from the non-delusional candidates: visa reform, E-Verify, ending sanctuary cities, etc.
But, let’s start with that plan to pay for the mythical wall. Leaving aside the fact that a would-be illegal immigrant could buy a shovel or ladder to get under or over the wall, the terrain in many areas make it impossible. There would be grazing and water rights considerations also, unless the Donald intends to use eminent domain, something he’s not averse to using in the past to get his way for something being built.
He outlines the methods by which Mexico will be “forced” to pay for the wall: impound all remittance payments going to Mexico, increase fees on all temporary visas for Mexican CEOs and diplomats, increase fees on border crossing cards, increase fees on NAFTA worker visas, and increase fees at ports of entry of shipments from Mexico. Regarding these fee increases (except the shipment one), isn’t it ironic that Trump suggests we increase fees on the legal immigrants? After all, those with business or diplomatic visas, those with NAFTA worker visas and those with border crossing cards are in the United States legally. In short, we make the law-abiding pay for preventing the law breakers by virtue of their Mexican nationality.
As for the increase in fees at ports of entry, this is nothing short of a trade tariff. Unless Trump intends to tear up existing free trade agreements- something he cannot do unilaterally- then he is, as they say…S.O.L. As a successful businessman and graduate of Wharton Business School surely he must know that such a move will simply lead to retaliation on US goods exported to Mexico. Is this good for American businesses and American jobs? Consider our major exports to Mexico: vehicles, machinery, electrical machinery, mining material and medical equipment. These are all major products produced by the manufacturing sector of the US economy. Conversely, our major imports from Mexico are agricultural products which, incidentally, lower costs to American consumers of things we all need- food! Assuming there is this likely Mexican retaliation, is he willing to risk losing over $200 billion of manufacturing exports to Mexico? And how does that help the American economy. Yes- we run a trade deficit with Mexico (which has been shrinking), but on balance American manufacturing and high-tech is a winner and the American food consumer is a winner. If I get this right, Trump thinks that by retaliating against our third largest trade partner in the world, the American economy will improve. Something is wrong at Wharton….
How he intends to intercept remittances from Mexican nationals in the United States and impound those funds is left unsaid. Perhaps the best way is just to stop every mail delivery to Mexico, open it and confiscate the cash or check. We can worry about their legal status later. As for those wire transfers, we are supposed to again assume that the source of any transfer is from an illegal immigrant and, again, we can worry about their legal status later. I suppose we can pass a law that any bank or wire service would have to first inquire as to the legal status of the sender. But, if an illegal immigrant is to get into this country, find employment and hide in plain sight, does Trump think they will be stupid enough not to find a legal citizen to wire that money? Like most things Trump says, it sounds good but it is clearly unworkable.
As to birthright citizenship, he simply says “end it.” Again, a simple solution but for the United States Constitution. By birthright citizenship, Trump is referring to the problem of so-called anchor babies- parents who come to the United States to have children thus increasing their chances of citizenship. According to most immigration groups- pro and con- ending birthright citizenship would solve exactly 3% of the illegal immigrant problem. Folks: they come here for jobs, not to give birth. As an article in The Federalist points out, then [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] has no right calling himself an American citizen, nor does Bobby Jindal, or astronaut Jose Hernandez, or Trump’s own sister. Hell- even his three kids were born to a foreign national, not an American citizen at the time. Perhaps Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump should hop on that airplane also.
Besides amending the Constitution or rewriting the 14th Amendment (or re-interpreting it), it simply is not going to happen. There have been efforts in the past and Trump is correct in noting that One Eye Reid has even proposed legislation in the past. And yes, Americans disagree with the notion of birthright citizenship by a 2:1 margin. However, I can guarantee that 90% of that 67% of Americans have never read the 14th Amendment. If 67% of Americans polled said that there should be strict gun control laws, does that negate the Second Amendment? If 67% of Americans think that there should be strict campaign finance laws, does that negate the First Amendment? We do not run a country based on public opinion polls.
His statement of rescinding the DACA policy, however, is not without merit, but Trump takes it too far. Under the rubric of prosecutorial discretion, DACA is a policy as the result of an executive order. A future president can simply issue another executive order rescinding Obama’s order. In such cases, things would simply revert back to the way they were pre-DACA. But, Trump asserts that the beneficiaries of the Obama order and their families would then be deported, or as he states, “They have to go.” Estimates before DACA, currently on hold due to a court order, were that a potential 1.7 million people would be eligible. Now assume we have a President Trump: that is 1.7 million people PLUS their families he wishes to deport. In this way he keeps the family together. Again, this is an unworkable solution that sounds simple and good. Perhaps Trump Air (that’s right…that “success” went out of business) could provide the transportation out of the country. Also consider the fact that not every one of those DACA beneficiaries are Mexican or Latin American; they are from India or Vietnam or Bangladesh or Nigeria. The illegal immigration problem is not exclusive to Mexico. In fact, 42% of illegal immigrants entered this country legally, but overstayed their visas. Mexico is simply the visible flash point of the problem, another indication that Trump reduces things to the visceral and asserts that Mexico and Mexico alone is responsible and that Mexico alone should be the object of retaliation.
Like most things Trump says, it sounds good. It appeals to a baser instinct of simplicity. But, it is an ignorant expression of stupidity in certain areas. There are things that could and should be done in Trump’s position paper: increase border patrol and ICE agents, end “catch-and-release,” cease funding sanctuary cities, etc. At one time (the 1950s to 1960s), we had a workable immigration system with our southern neighbor. Although there were flaws, there was cyclical and orderly immigration to meet low skill labor demands in the United States. The illegal immigrant problem did not become a problem until we abandoned a system that worked, but needed tweaking. Ironically, the tweaking involved American businesses, not the immigrant.
This- his first real specific policy paper- is loaded with nonsense. Its not even worth being toilet paper. There is a better solution for Trump- just declare war on Mexico. And anyone who falls for this nonsense (which is not even original) needs to get in the clown car with Trump and ride off into the sunset. If nothing else, his first serious policy position paper illustrates what a rube Donald Trump really is. Its a sad day when he leads in the polls.