“Should we deport US citizens whose parents are undocumented?” just became a serious question in the Republican primary

Donald “Somebody’s Doing the Raping” Trump finally released a policy proposal on Sunday, outlining a series of specific actions he would take as president to reform our immigration system. And true to form for a candidate who’s built his campaign on insinuations that Mexico is intentionally sending rapists and murderers across the border in order to disrupt our American way of life, those specifics look like what would happen if 1984 was adapted into a spaghetti Western. The plan, for all intents and purposes, envisions a police state, with John Wayne knockoffs surveilling the country and hunting down anyone whose paperwork and skin tone aren’t in proper order.

Trump’s plan includes his trademark Great Wall of Texas — complete with it’s “big, beautiful door” — along with an end to birthright citizenship and a call for mass deportations of immigrants who are currently in the country illegally. Reminded that a call for mass deportations could result in separating families, with citizen children being left behind as their non-citizen parents were deported, Trump remained unfazed, saying, “We’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go.”

This can only be accomplished two ways: Trump would either have to retroactively revoke birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants, or he would have to ignore the fact that they are American citizens in order to deport them anyway.

No Person is Illegal, via miguelb / Flickr

No Person is Illegal, via miguelb / Flickr

Ending birthright citizenship in the first place, to say nothing of revoking it for people who currently hold it, would require a constitutional amendment, which would never pass. Whatever you think about the policy, it’s here to stay. That leaves the second option — deport whole families anyway, regardless of the citizenship status of individual members — as the likely immigration policy of a hypothetical Trump presidency.

As much of a bureaucratic and legal nightmare as such a policy would be — to say nothing of its massive cost and wanton disregard for the constitutional rights of American citizens — we have to take it seriously. Rather, the rest of the Republican field does. Like it or not, Donald Trump has become the GOP’s standard-bearer on immigration policy. And if that sounds ridiculous, consider this: asked about Trump’s plan today, Scott Walker embraced it, describing his plan as being “very similar” to that of Trump.

When asked to follow up, Walker clarified that he supported ending birthright citizenship, but avoided coming down on Trump’s side with respect to deporting whole families that include American citizens:

However, not to be outdone by Trump when it comes to complete ignorance of foreign affairs, Walker offered up a positively terrifying analogy to justify his version of Trump’s Great Wall of Texas:

Regardless as to whether Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, this is how he affects the race. He may have been wrong to say that he’s the only reason Republicans are taking a hard line on immigration during this campaign, but he has a lot to do with just how hard of a line the rest of the candidates are taking and will continue to take. This was supposed to be the year that Republicans piped down on immigration, so as to at least limit the damage they’d do to themselves with our nation’s fastest growing demographic group. Trump has forced candidates to abandon that strategy.

Two months ago, few would have thought that “Should we deport American citizens if their parents are undocumented?” would be a serious question in the Republican primary. Now that the man who is currently leading the Republican primary has answered that question with an unqualified “yes,” the rest of the candidates are going to be pressed for their own takes.

And if Walker is any indication, they have every incentive to follow, not lead, on the issue.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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14 Responses to ““Should we deport US citizens whose parents are undocumented?” just became a serious question in the Republican primary”

  1. CrismaFire says:

    Cruz is awesome and his mother is an American.

  2. Bill_Perdue says:

    Obama and Trump are on the same wavelength. Trump wants to deport all immigrant and imported workers and Obama has already deported over 2 million immigrant workers, destroying tier lives and the lives of those who depend on them.

    People immigrate to the US and Canada because Bill Clintons NAFTA wrecked the economies, and created ecological havoc, in their countries. Immigrant and imported workers deserve to be treated like all workers in the US and Canada and to be offered dual citizenship if they want it.

    The opposition of Trump and many other Republicans and Democrats is often masked but in the end it boils down to racism.

  3. How much longer before they don’t bother with the pretense of law and just start doing whatever they want?

  4. 2karmanot says:

    We should, nee, MUST give all such immigrants and their families full and unqualified citizenship—-Period.

  5. Demosthenes says:

    In order to end “birthright citizenship, the Constitution would need to be amended, which won’t happen. The only result of many GOP contenders advocating this is to further alienate the broader electorate voting in the November, 2016 election.

    Please proceed.

  6. marknc says:

    His dad is Cuban – let’s deport him there. Our Embassy is open now, I bet it could be arranged :)

  7. nicho says:

    Very surreal — a race to the bottom in a cesspool that has no bottom.

  8. Naja pallida says:

    I promise, Canada doesn’t want him back.

  9. Doug105 says:

    Lets deport Ted Cruz and wait a few years to see how that works out.

  10. BeccaM says:

    What? You’re surprised the entire GOP field is running on blatantly unconstitutional and illegal policy positions?

    From this, to Huckabee, Santorum, and Jindal claiming they’d use U.S. troops to end all reproductive freedoms for women, to Carson gleefully embracing torture, to the lot of them basically asserting they would not be held accountable to anyone in declaring war on other nations — all of them feel America “would be easier to run if it was a dictatorship” (like Dubya famously said) and are campaigning for the position of autocrat.

    In a way, this anti-immigrant position is disingenuous, because BigAg and the H1B-dependent tech sectors would never allow it to pass. It’s really just scapegoating…which as Karmanot points out, is a fairly common demagogic strategy…

  11. Naja pallida says:

    The reality is that Donald Trump’s immigration policy has been the mainstream Republican stance on immigration for about 25 years now. Build a wall, throw them all out, stop allowing ‘anchor babies’, any leniency is amnesty, because they’re all criminals. They have no interest at all in addressing the reality of the situation, much less debating the issue in good faith. Anyone in the party who tries to show even the tiniest modicum of sense on the issue is shouted down. Thankfully, their pipe dream of a Constitutional amendment on the issue will never happen.

  12. 2karmanot says:

    “we have to take it seriously.” I imagine the citizens of Germany thought the same thing after the laughing and mocking at a cracked-pot clown died down and he ascended to the supreme power of the nation. # F’Y’ Godwin.

  13. Indigo says:

    Obviously it depends on who knows them at “our” church or country club.

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