21 August 2015

Donald Trump’s immigration plan is horrendous


Republican presidential candidate and serial outspoken TV personality, Donald Trump, has set out a cruel and wholly illiberal immigration plan. Putting the issue at the forefront of his campaign, in a laughable document the entrepreneur has vowed to deport illegal migrants, and even called for a wall around the border between Mexico and America.

Here are his three core principles:

  1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.
  2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
  3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

What would be the cost of such as policy?

A staggering $137.5 billion, and that’s only a conservative estimate. The average deportation of an undocumented migrants costs the federal government $12,500. If we apply this to the 11.2 million migrants estimated to be in the US, the figure would hit $137.5 billion, and that is without factoring in all those arrest costs, police time, transportation etc. The point is, implementing this policy would come at a price, and that price is mightily huge.

Now that is only the direct costs – the wider economic costs do not make the policy sound any more appealing. Cato Institute policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh found that young illegal workers pay into the system, but most don’t collect: “Medicare and Social Security [are] the biggest welfare programs… and immigrants subsidize those programs massively.”

Health policy journal Health Affairs found that, in 2009, immigrants contributed $13.8 billion more to the Medicare Trust Fund than they collected in benefits. In comparison, native-born Americans took out $30.9 billion more than they paid in.

Beyond the hole in the public finances it would produce, Trump’s third principle states that “any immigration plan must improve jobs”. It is often complained that immigrants ‘take’ local jobs – but even without using an example, how could this economically be the case? Evidently, there is no predestined amount of jobs for locals or migrants, nor is there evidence that migrants discourage job creation. Migration not only boosts the amount of supply of workers, but also the demand in the economy – and what business would ever complain about having too many customers?

After all, American migrants created YouTube, Google and invented the hot dog. Remarkably, migrants make up 25% of all international patents coming from America. Donald Trump’s immigration rhetoric is totally inconsistent with the entrepreneurial America that he preaches.

As for social consequences, Donald Trump has even vowed to deport illegal children. Yes, illegal children would be on President Trump’s agenda, as he proposes to end birth right citizenship. Not only is this pretty cruel, it is a wholly illiberal policy that would create a constitutional kerfuffle. Since 1868, the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects illegal migrants’ new born from being classed illegal citizens. Therefore, even American legislators from well over a century ago would see this as terrifyingly socially backward.

Adding to this, will a mass deportation do any good for social cohesion? As part of Trump’s plan, immigration control officers will be trebled and money sent home by illegal migrants to their families abroad will be confiscated. Have no fear though, because when it comes to illegal migrants Trump has vowed to keep the “good ones” in the country – whatever that means.

What about that colossal wall between America and Mexico? It does seem far from an emblem of good international relations. When Mexico is currently growing 2.5% and is exporting 80.3% of its produce to the US, forming a barrier between the countries does not make America appear as an outwardly-looking global trading partner – more like a shutdown shop.

To make this policy sound all the more genius, the financiers of this giant wall will not be the American taxpayers, instead the Mexican taxpayers. “We don’t know if we should laugh or if we should cry,” said Guadalupe Loaeza, a popular Mexican columnist, “we think he’s really a nightmare.”

In the catastrophic scenario of Trump winning the GOP nomination (he’s the comfortable favorite in the polls) then going on to be President, the only hope is the Republican libertarian wing use Congress to reign in this planned excess of government control on immigration. With a sixth of the American population Hispanic, if Trump wants to win in 2016 he should try to appeal to at least some of the Hispanic electorate. Though, he has assured the Hispanic electorate he “loves them”, but after describing Mexicans as “rapists” and “murders” previously, I doubt the feelings mutual.

Luke Brett is Politics Editor of Gair Rhydd and a contributor to CapX.