Trump's immigration plans under scrutiny

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Chad Groening (

Border fence imageA border enforcement advocate says building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico isn't enough to adequately deter illegal aliens from crossing.

It was June 2015 when Donald Trump announced his candidacy and said: "I would build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me. And I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I'll have Mexico pay for that wall."

Pew Research immigration Aug2016A just published Pew Research survey of more than 2,000 adults found that only 36 percent of Americans are in favor of the presidential candidate's plan to build that wall; 61 percent oppose the idea. The survey, which polled a higher number of Democrats than Republicans, indicated stronger support for the wall among whites and Republicans and stronger opposition among minorities and Democrats. (See table to right)

Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), contends the issue of border security is about more than just a fence – that it also requires deterrents coupled with enforcement.

"FAIR has long advocated that while we need security at the border, including fencing in key strategic areas, we also need to give people a strong reason not to come across that border illegally in the first place," he explains. "I think a lot of emphasis has been simply on the wall itself without addressing some of these other issues that really need to be addressed."

Mehlman says simply building a wall isn't the answer to mass illegal immigration. "Some 40 percent – maybe even a higher percentage – of illegal immigrants come into the United States legally on visas, so the wall wouldn't do anything to prevent that," he notes.

'Pivot' on amnesty?

Another element of Trump's proposed immigration policy that helped propel him to the GOP nomination was his opposition to any form of amnesty for those who are in the country illegally. But when he announced his "pivot" on immigration last week, some of his supporters voiced displeasure about his move away from that tough stance – some even saying his plan now sounds very similar to those he defeated for the nomination.

Mehlman sympathizes with those who are critical of Trump's apparent modification.

Mehlman, Ira (Federation for American Immigration Reform)"The American public certainly understands that the immigration policy of this country should serve the interests of the American people – and they've been sold out many, many times," he acknowledges. "I don't think they're looking for another candidate who is going to come to Washington and do something different from what he said when he was campaigning."

He urges the Republican nominee to resume the stance that made him attractive to many voters: acknowledgment that the complaints of the American public were legitimate.

"[He needs to remember] that the vast majority of the American people are being harmed by the refusal of this administration – and neglect under past administrations – to enforce our immigration laws," Mehlman states. "[He needs to tell them] they weren't imagining the problem [and] that they weren't bad people for expressing their concerns about it."

He suggests Trump make a clear statement about what he intends to do related to amnesty should be become president. 

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