Donald Trump’s appearance on “Meet the Press” was revealing. His immature and bizarre political thinking — opponents are “losers,” the United States will seize Iraq’s oil fields to starve the Islamic State of funds (or something), he learns foreign policy from “the [Sunday] shows,” etc.– provides a glimpse of his intellect and of the angry right wing’s mind-set. The extent of right-wing radicals’ — and Trump’s — unhinged political calculus and their moral vacuity is nowhere more evident than in the anti-immigration dogma one hears on talk radio or from anti-immigrant firebrand Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
On “Meet the Press,” Trump described his immigration “plan” — getting rid of birthright citizenship, rescinding the president’s executive order and deporting millions of people. “We have to make a whole new set of standards. And when people come in, they have to come in legally,” Trump began. Then the following ensued:
CHUCK TODD: So you’re going to split up families?
DONALD TRUMP: Chuck.
CHUCK TODD: You’re going to deport children–
DONALD TRUMP: Chuck. No, no. We’re going to keep the families together. We have to keep the families together.
CHUCK TODD: But you’re going to keep them together out —
DONALD TRUMP: But they have to go. But they have to go.
CHUCK TODD: What if they have no place to go?
DONALD TRUMP: We will work with them. They have to go. Chuck, we either have a country or we don’t have a country.
This is never going to happen. Americans are not prepared to undertake mass roundups and destroy family units. “It is illegal to deport American citizens. When the illegal parents of US citizens are removed then they are put in foster care,” Cato’s immigration guru Alex Nowrasteh observes. “Trump’s plan would put millions of American children into foster care. Trump is simply being more honest than anti-immigration activists. Trump has taken the anti-immigration hysteria to its logical extreme — supporting the deportation of Americans,” says Nowrasteh.
Trump felt obliged to then release his written immigration plan, which included brainstorms like this:
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]. We will not be taken advantage of anymore.
In other words, we are going to cause an economic and diplomatic meltdown to force Mexico to pay for our security measures. Brilliant — in some parallel universe. On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called out Trump for his crackpot plan: “This makes no sense. I’ve met [Mexican] President [Enrique Peña] Nieto a number of times. I don’t think if we present him with a bill he’s going to pay for it,” he said on CNN. “This is not negotiation of a real estate deal, OK? This is international diplomacy and it’s different.”
Trump’s plan also goes after the H-1B visa program — mixing half-truths and out-and-out inaccuracies — to limit entry of high-skilled workers. He bizarrely claims this “will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program” and claims the current program allows companies to bypass qualified U.S. workers. In fact, the program requires employers to prove there are not available, qualified workers. Shortages of skilled STEM workers is not a fact that can be wished away. “U.S. STEM graduates aren’t wallowing in unemployment due to competition for H-1B’s. Instead they work on Wall Street, in finance, or other professions where they make more money,” Nowrasteh explains. “The H-1B program already includes wage protections and the slots run out rapidly. Piling more regulations on top of that won’t affect that.” Perhaps that is why Trump sycophant Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) favors a huge expansion of the H-1B program.
Trump’s ignorance and mean-spiritedness are not unique. His written plan closely tracks the sort of proposals Sessions puts out and the rhetoric you hear from anti-immigrant activists and talk show radio.
Trump mixes liberal nostrums and isolationist impulses. He supports affirmative action, is indifferent to the fate of Ukraine and says he won’t void the Iran deal. (“I’m really good at looking at a contract and finding things within a contract that even if they’re bad. I would police that contract so tough that they don’t have a chance. As bad as the contract is, I will be so tough on that contract.”) He is against NAFTA and lukewarm on NATO. But it is immigration that defines him and has gotten him the lion’s share of attention. His anti-free-market fervor, fondness for police-state actions and disregard for the humanity of millions remind us how a-factual and noxious — not to mention, unconservative — the anti-immigration movement is.