Billionaire Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump issued his first position paper Sunday, calling for deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants, as well as depriving their US-born children of citizenship.
Trump, who continues to lead in polls of likely Republican voters both nationally and in early primary and caucus states, appeared on several Sunday television talk shows to defend his fascistic attacks on immigrant workers. This included a full half-hour interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The immigration plan expands on the racist denunciation of immigrants from Mexico that was the centerpiece of Trump’s campaign launch, in which he spoke of “tens of thousands of violent beatings, rapes and murders” by immigrants.
Trump calls for building a physical wall across the entire southern border of the United States, some 1,600 miles, and compelling Mexico to pay for the wall by seizing remissions from immigrants working in the United States to their families in Mexico. Virtually all of Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination have backed the plan for a border wall, differing only on how to finance it.
The most radical element of his new plan is a tripling of the size of the Border Patrol force dedicated to enforcement and removal of immigrants, with the goal of rounding up and expelling every single undocumented worker in the United States. Immigrants who were detained for investigation of their legal status would be jailed, not released into the community. Although Trump did not spell this out, such a policy would require the creation of a network of concentration camps to jail immigrants and process them for deportation.
Trump further proposes to end birthright citizenship. Under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, all children born in the United States are automatically citizens of the country. This amendment was enacted after the Civil War as part of the uprooting of the slave system, to guarantee citizenship for the freed slaves and their children. It naturally applies as well to the children of immigrants, regardless of the legal status of their parents at the time of birth.
It is a measure of the deeply reactionary character of American capitalist politics that most Republican politicians and some Democrats now support at least partial repeal of this 14th Amendment protection of basic democratic rights.
Trump attempts to cloak the ultra-reactionary character of his immigration plan with claims to be defending the jobs and living standards of American workers, making reference to the high unemployment prevailing among black and Hispanic workers, particularly teenagers.
“The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans—including immigrants themselves and their children—to earn a middle class wage,” the Trump statement claims.
It is worth noting that there is considerable overlap here with the rhetoric of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, who has voiced opposition to immigration on similar grounds. In an interview last month with the Vox web site, the self-described “democratic socialist” candidate denounced proposals for “open borders,” declaring: “What right-wing people in this country would love is an open border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour. That would be great for them… You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those [American] kids?”
In his television appearances Sunday, Trump reiterated that undocumented immigrants “have to go.” He claimed, “We’re going to keep the families together,” a pledge that apparently means that if even one member of a family is undocumented, all of them would be deported.
Trump declared, like all the other Republican candidates, that one of his first actions in the White House would be to rescind Obama’s executive order blocking deportations of the parents of US-born children and of children exempted from immigration arrest under the so-called Dream Act.
In fact, the Obama administration has deported more immigrants than ever before in US history, some four million since 2009—more than the Bush administration deported during its eight years in office. It has gone to court to uphold its policy of detaining undocumented women and children fleeing to the US from repressive regimes in Latin America.
The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on immigration is largely a matter of rhetoric rather than performance. Both capitalist parties are committed to continued mass arrests and deportations, with most Republicans promising even more draconian measures while most Democrats posture as advocates of immigration “reform.”
Trump prepared the unveiling of his anti-immigrant program with a campaign swing through Michigan—not one of the early primary states—where he issued a typically vitriolic attack on China and alleged Chinese currency manipulation at a rally in Birch Run, situated between Flint and Saginaw in what was once a center of auto production in southeast Michigan. Denouncing the most recent devaluation of the yuan, Trump declaimed, “Devalue means suck the blood out of the United States.”
Two Democratic members of Michigan’s congressional delegation hailed Trump’s anti-Chinese rhetoric. Representative Dan Kildee, whose district was the location of the Trump rally, said the billionaire was voicing the sentiment of many auto workers and residents. Representative Debbie Dingell, whose district in Detroit’s downriver suburbs has long been based on auto and steel production, declared that Trump was “spot on” in his attack on China.
“Countries like China that cheat and don’t play by the rules hurt good-paying American jobs—like the ones we have right here in Michigan in the auto industry, and it needs to stop,” Dingell said in a statement. “I am pleased Mr. Trump made this point loudly and clearly when he visited Michigan.”