Last Thursday, during the Republican Presidential Debate, Donald Trump used his vast majority of speaking time to do what he does best: talk about immigration. Specifically, he attributed the discussion regarding ‘immigration reform’ to his own outspokenness. Donald Trump is wrong about a lot of things, but he is semi-correct when he contends he reignited the immigration debate. So, out of recognition of Mr. Trump’s ability to shine light on things of utter importance, I find it fitting to write a blog post about exactly that: immigration.
Although Donald has an exquisite plan of building a wall and kicking out literally every single illegal immigrant in America, there are a few fatal flaws in the frontrunner’s proposal.
A primary reason for Mr. Trump’s success in the polls is his belief that America is in an apocalyptic state. As he so eloquently describes his lack of nationalism in an interview with Fox News:
This country is a hellhole. We are going down fast. We can’t do anything right. We’re a laughing stock all over the world. The American dream is dead.
Well, at least our front-runner tasked with representing the United States has an optimistic view of his country.
But regardless of Donald Trump’s dedication to “Make America Great Again!”, evidence implies the country is not in fact spiraling downwards, but is rather improving.
With this being said, the first primary reason Donald Trump’s immigration “plan” is preposterous is because he fundamentally misunderstands the immigration “crisis” he intends to fix.
Trump’s proposition for immigration reform is similar to that of a high-school debater who watches too much Fox News: “Kick them all out!” Likewise is his reasoning for proposing such a plan: “Immigrants are bad.”
Contrary to his belief that immigrants are the reason for all evil and the cause for all recent worsening problems in the United States, an analysis from the Pew Research Center finds that illegal immigration has remained stagnant for the past 5 years.
Donald Trump loves to talk about his past: his successful business ventures, deal-making abilities, his ever-so-famous book, etc.. Donald Trump’s obsession with his past could provide an explanation as to why his policies specifically tailor to problems that peaked a long time ago. For example:
I guess Mexican citizens agree with Donald Trump that “this country is a hellhole,” as their immigration to our country has decreased consistently for the past 15 years.
It only gets worse for the business tycoon. An analysis from the Washington Post finds illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades.
But to Mr. Trump, illegal immigration is such a pressing issue is deserves to be one of the two positions he actually finds worthy of being discussed on his website.
Donald Trump says he will be exceptional at foreign policy because he has been trained in the art of making deals (he even wrote a book about it!). He must have skipped the lecture in “Making Business Deals/Foreign Policy 101” regarding how to handle leaders from places such as Mexico. The second flaw in Trump’s immigration proposal is its execution; specifically, in its stipulation that Mexico pays for the massive border between our two countries.
Somehow, Potential President Trump defines sound foreign policy as requiring our third largest trade partner to pay for a wall restricting their people to leave their own country. Not only is it immoral to disallow immigrants to seek a better life, it would be economically irrational. Imposing wall-induced tariffs on a country who imports ~$300 billion to the United States annually may sound perfect at first, until you realize how international trade/economics/foreign policy/common sense works.
But even if Mr. Trump was elected, how feasible would his disastrous plan be? The answer is quite simple: not feasible at all. When asked if Mexico would pay for the wall, spokesman for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said:
Of course it’s false. It reflects an enormous ignorance for what Mexico represents, and also the irresponsibility of the candidate who’s saying it.
Even if/when Trump becomes the leader of the free world, will his fellow leaders work with him to pass his bold immigration plan? The answer, at least from Mexico’s perspective, is a resounding no.
Similar to their leader, Trumpists views immigrants in a not-so-positive way. In August, two Trump supporters made America great again by urinating on and beating a 58-year old Mexican immigrant sleeping outside an airport. “Donald Trump was right,” one of them said, “these illegals need to be deported.” When asked about the incident, Trump asserted,
…people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.
Trump’s lack of sympathy and condoning of poor treatment towards immigrants represents the third reason Trump’s immigration plan belongs in the trash with his poorly designed hats, he misunderstands immigrants’ effect on the United States.
Mr. Trump’s reasoning for deporting all illegal immigrants and building a massive wall between us and Mexico is essentially hinged on two major contingencies: that immigrants take jobs, and that they contribute to an excessive amount of crime.
First, the economic impacts of immigration.
Although evidence is still unclear as to the economics of illegals, a large amount of evidence implies immigrants—legal and not—help the U.S. economy. For example, Professor Gordon H. Hanson of the University of California finds in his report for The Council on Foreign Relations:
…stemming illegal immigration would likely lead to a net drain on the U.S. economy—a finding that calls into question many of the proposals to increase funding for border protection.
Further, the Congressional Budget Office in 2007:
Over the past two decades, most efforts to estimate the fiscal impact of immigration in the United States have concluded that, in aggregate and over the long term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants—both legal and unauthorized—exceed the cost of the services they use.
The reason for this is simple: unauthorized immigrant workers not only add to the supply of labor (at lower than legal costs, thus contributing more money for their work), they also consume goods and services, thereby generating economic activity and creating jobs. In the same way we don’t worry when a new college graduate enters the labor force, we shouldn’t feel threatened by illegal immigrants and their prominence in the labor market. If anything, we should embrace these new workers because they introduce new competition in the U.S. economy, requiring potential employees to work harder to be hired. America should be promoting free market policies and competition for the sake of fairness and prosperity, not restricting the United States economy to those fortunate enough to be born into it.
Although the majority of evidence refutes Donald’s economic claims, he is even more incorrect in his assumptions regarding crime. Whereas Trump assumes that ‘some’ Mexicans are good, safe people, an overwhelming body of evidence shows no correlation between immigration and crime; in fact, it finds that illegal immigrants are less likely than U.S. citizens to commit crimes.
For example, in their report titled “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States,” professors Ewing, Martinez, and Rumbaut report the following:
Roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born. The disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial census. In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.
Further, hundreds of studies find absolutely no correlation that implies immigration increases crime. And similar to Ewing, Martinez, and Rumbaut’s, most find that immigrants possess a lower level of crime than U.S. natives.
So, if Trump’s argument for sending all immigrants to “make America is great again” is because of their contribution to crime, wouldn’t it be logically consistent to send 3.3% of native-born Americans to places other than the United States? If anything, the United States should focus on rehabilitating the lives of immigrants from other countries, not sending them back to commit their so-called “atrocities” in their home country. If the panacea to crime is simply to redirect crime to other countries then why does the United States need prisons? As soon as the U.S. prioritizes its own citizens over rehabilitating those who need rehabilitation most, the United States is no longer the ‘policeman of the free world’ but one that sets the precedent for poor treatment and the promotion of protectionism.
According to the Pew Research Center, a mere 17% of American citizens believe that there should be a national law enforcement effort to deport illegal immigrants in the United States. And although this number is lower than Donald Trump’s current percentage in the polls (which he knows a lot about), he still disagrees the general consensus among 83% of Americans: that immigrants can’t and shouldn’t be forced to leave the U.S. The fourth and final way Donald Trump’s immigration plan destroys his legitimacy as a candidate is that it unintelligently and immorally calls for the mass deportation of all illegal immigrants.
This deportation would specifically be devastating for three primary reasons: its economic consequences, the damages it would bring to communities and families, and its impracticality.
First, this proposal would be a misuse of the American peoples’ money.
– 19,250 new elementary schools.
– The costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan during 2009 two times over.
– Buying a brand new Apple laptop for almost every single American citizen.
– 15x NASA’s annual budget.
Or, we could legalize unauthorized immigrants, which would translate into at least a $1.5 trillion cumulative increase in GDP over 10 years.
According a report from the American Action Forum, a right-wing think tank that disagrees with Trump, the effects of deportation would be devastating:
Real GDP would drop by nearly $1.6 trillion and the policy would shave 5.7 percent off economic growth.
On the contrary, the authors write reform leading to legalization would “raise GDP per capita by over $1,500 and reduce the cumulative federal deficit by over $2.5 trillion.”
As said earlier, immigrants provide commodities that are necessary for economic growth: consumption and labor. We could remove the illegals, which would indeed reduce the number of “job-stealers,” but it would also reduce the jobs created by the economic activity they generate. Rather than restricting our economic growth for the sake of Americanism, we should reap the unclaimed benefits that could be seen through legalization to undocumented immigrants.
Next, deportation subsequently creates the tearing apart of families and communities.
The idea of deporting immigrants is similar to Mr. Trump in its lack of compassion, especially since a reported 62% of the undocumented have lived in America for at least a decade. Communities are an integral part of one’s life, especially if they grew up there. Trump may not know this due to his excessive travels, but considering his comments on his daughter Ivanka, I assume he knows the importance of families. Although he has much love for his family–specifically his daughter–he tends to ignore the repercussions to immigrants’ families that would occur if his plan succeeds. In 2008, the National Council of La Raza estimated that three-quarters of children with an undocumented parent were U.S.-born citizens. The question for Trump is: would these kids be sent back to countries that are foreign to them, places where they might not speak the language? Or will they stay in the United States without a family that is truly theirs? No matter what Trump’s “solution” to his family-separating crisis may be, it is no panacea.
Finally, the plan to deport immigrants is impractical.
Donald Trump’s rhetoric is similar to that of a middle-schooler who wins class president by promising to extend recess times and increase the amount of sugar in the school cafeteria. His impracticality may be most memorably illustrated in an analogy, but it is clearly demonstrated in his attempt to win an election in an equally unfeasible promise: to kick out all immigrants.
First, the thought that we could find, round up, and deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants in an orderly and cost-efficient manner is something that should stay in Donald Trump’s dreams. Americans refuse to show police officers their drivers license, deny entry to their home without a warrant, and demand the right to carry a gun in a movie theater. To think that these immigrants, who are more likely to be rebellious than American citizens (in Donald Trump’s eyes), would magically consent to being kicked out of their homes by a government which seems to vehemently hate them will be as impossible as it sounds.
Second, the thought that Mexico would accept these immigrants is irrational as well. If the Mexican government encourages people to leave their country, as Trump says, then why would they accept their immigrants stamped with a Return to Sender label? Trump’s brash demand that Mexico pays for an unwanted wall already crosses a line, but to send back immigrants really hops the border. Not only is it irrational to treat these immigrants this way, it’s hypocritical. To say that we deserve to be without immigrants which harm our sovereignty, yet impose these same harms on our neighbors simply makes the United States look like a hypocrite.
In an interview with Hugh Hewitt, Donald Trump proclaimed that he would be “so good at the military your head will spin.” Weeks later, Trump’s policy proposals are in fact making peoples’ heads spin, albeit for all the wrong reasons. His statements on women, his personal attacks regarding appearance, and his lack of knowledge on Hamas and Hezbollah just tell us more and more about the joke known as his candidacy. But unlike most jokes, his candidacy is one which needs to be paid attention to, and should cause legitimate worry in the United States. The Trump factor affects millions of Americans angry with Washington, and for all the right reasons. Although we can all find disappointment in the ineffectiveness of career politicians, can the solution be found in electing political outsiders for the sake of “change?” Supporters of candidates like Trump, Fiorina and Carson would answer this question with a yes. Of course, they have every right to, and political ineffectiveness and important issues require revolutionary solutions. But can we, as the American people, allow our passion for change cloud our eyes’ vision of what is best for America? The answer must be no. We all want to improve America, but it’s not as simple as building a wall and deporting millions. What real change requires is cooperation, pragmatism, and confidence, not a President who blames a woman’s journalistic vigor on menstruation.
There is fault to be found in every presidential candidate, and no one is perfect. Donald Trump has a vision just like the rest of us, and probably genuinely wants to improve our country. A large amount of Americans agree with him. No one is wrong, but when a candidate’s policy proposals will have disastrous effects on the United States, it’s important to put names aside and evaluate our country’s future.
The future of our nation depends on who we elect in 2016. The future of 11 million people in our country depends on whether or not we elect Donald Trump. To be fair, Trump is right: immigration reform is necessary. Unfortunately, his changes would be steps in the wrong direction, away from progress and prosperity. To solve America’s immigrant problem, we need to accept, embrace, and provide for those who need provisions most.
Maybe and hopefully then, we can truly Make America Great Again.