Primadonald’s poll numbers have remained steady enough that it only makes sense to take his candidacy seriously, especially in light of the fact that no other GOP candidate has thus far come close to challenging him. The man has gained traction by tossing out poorly developed ideas for governing that none the less excite voters across the political spectrum, though with a concentration on the far right.
This blog is the first in a series. Each will take one of the aforementioned “poorly developed ideas” and put it under a microscope where it can be subject to critical examination as to its face validity and practicality, including the related cost and how it will be covered.
Idea #1: Round up and deport all undocumented people.
The best estimates available put the number of these folks at 11 million and they are scattered across the land with heavier concentrations of them at or near their original point(s) of entry into the US. Knowing that they are here illegally, these individuals living inconspicuously; “in the shadows” as it were. In practical terms, finding them will be a challenge. When this was pointed out to Primadonald, his flippant response was that rounding them up would be “easy – just watch”. Later, he struck a different tone (“They won’t make it easy”) at one of his town hall meetings. This reversal suggests something unusual; i.e. on rare occasion, the man actually monitors the blather that he spews and self-corrects.
There are a number of practical problems associated with this deportation plan. First, there is the cost which has been put at between $1 -2 billion, (1) something that Primadonald has yet to acknowledge. Nor has he said one word about where that money will come from. Second, there is the aforementioned problem of simply locating these people and then actually taking them into custody. This will not happen in a single day, week or even months (2). That brings us to the third problem; i.e. each time you have some number of illegals in hand, are they to be shipped out immediately or held in a detention center until a critical mass is reached whereupon deportation will commence? (3) Any answer to this question raises another which is directly related to the still unaccounted-for cost of detention and multiple transportations. Fourth, one must consider the impact of mass deportations on our economy. The fact is, undocumented workers are willing to labor for lower wages than would be paid to a legal employee. Businesses love the former because it gives them a bigger profit margin and a competitive edge when it comes to pricing whatever service they are selling. Something as simple as yard care will cost you more once the undocumented worker who has been doing that job gets sent home to be quickly replaced by a documented one.
Apart from the foregoing practical concerns, there is this: Repeated poll results have shown that the majority of Americans favor giving the undocumented a path towards citizenship. Unless those polls have recently changed, Primadonald’s deportation idea seems aimed at a minority of voters even as it runs counter to more popular public opinion. Many months ago, in response to that latter sentiment, the US Senate passed, with bipartisan support, a comprehensive immigration reform package and sent that on to the House. Though imperfect, this legislation represented a meaningful step forward in dealing with the undocumented in a way that is free of all the problems inherent in Primadonald’s gambit. Regrettably, that bill died in the lower chamber because the GOP leadership there could not muster 218 fellow Republicans to vote it through. Even worse, the whole idea of immigration reform is so toxic to Tea Party Republicans that they would not even countenance bringing the Senate bill up for debate. As has now become his custom, the feckless Speaker, John Boehner (R-OH), shelved the matter.
This failure to govern has left the matter of dealing with the undocumented open to a demagogue like Primadonald to exploit and he has done so with great panache. Noting his success, rival GOP candidates have been all-too-quick to join an “amen chorus”, thus applying a thin layer of faux validity to it. It is hard to imagine Hispanics flocking to vote for any Republican presidential candidate in 2016 in light of this turn of events.
Next: The “high, beautiful wall” and getting Mexico to pay for it.
1,2,3: The government cost estimate cited above has been dwarfed by one put forward by the conservative American Action Forum which puts the Trump idea into a 20-year/$500 billion framework.