Thursday, September 1, 2016

Donald Trump's immigration policy - Utopian or practical?

I got up early to watch Donald Trump make that much-awaited, much-postponed speech on his immigration policy. It was to start at 6.30 am IST (9 pm ET) but started half an hour late.

He didn't disappoint. There were lot of speculations as to whether he will soften his approach and try to win back the moderates. He didn't. In his forceful, ultra-nationalistic and blunt style, he laid out a 10-point plan to rid the US free of the danger stemming out of undocumented, unlawful migrants.

Some of the points he made:
  • The Mexican wall will come up, and Mexico will pay for it
  • The wall will be a high-tech one with sensors and all to monitor movement
  • No sympathy and amnesty for migrants
  • Out of 11 million illegal immigrants, 2 million are criminals. They will be deported.
  • Law enforcement officials who know who and where these criminals will have to act immediately. 
  • Many countries have refused to take back immigrants sent back from the US. They will have to take them back. US won't keep those criminals, just because the countries from where they came from won't take them back.
  • No visa for people from countries which have no proper vetting system. He named Syria and Libya
  • Immigrants will be subjected to extreme vetting
  • Welfare of Americans will come before welfare of migrants
At the outset, there was a huge precipitous gap between what Trump spoke alongside Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at a joint press conference in Mexico City, and a few hours later at Phoenix. Does Trump really mean what says, and is he saying what he really means?

For his constituency, today, he gave some clear solutions to what he sees as the gravest threat to America - the problem of illegal migrants. But how much of it is practical, and attainable is left to be seen. Talking of plans is one thing, making them work is another.

In the high-voltage political crucible of Washington, there is a many slip between ideas and execution. Even if Trump gets elected, and many of his solutions are sure to run into political roadblocks. This is a campaign speech, and one needs to take it only on its face value.

Problem of migrants is not just an American problem. Every country faces it. And no doubt, it's a grave one. No country can afford to have undocumented illegal migrants enjoying the benefits meant for law abiding citizens. But to paint all immigrants with the same criminal brush will create more problems than solutions.

Trump is looking at a very US-centric approach to problems. But he forgets that America is part of a global community. America needs the rest of the world, just as the rest of the world needs America.

It remains to be seen if one campaign speech can do a world of good for Trump, after he made a series of reckless gaffes and slipped in ratings.

Anyway it will be interesting to see how Hillary Clinton and her campaign responds.


  1. I don’t know if it is utopian or practical. But something must be done to stop illegal immigrants coming into USA. And, deport criminal illegal immigrants. In the past, none of the American leaders spoke about this because of political correctness and/or for getting the vote bank. Mr. Trump is the one openly talks about what is on the minds of majority of the American people.

    These illegal immigrants are not only enjoying the benefits meant for American citizens and legal immigrants, they are also a security threat. Terrorists may/will come in the form of refugees.

    Mr. Trump did not paint all immigrants with the same criminal brush. He painted only illegal immigrants with criminal brush. In fact, he welcomes people into America who want to come legally.

    Is it fair to ban all people of a particular faith from entering into USA because of some people are bad? No. However, if those “some people” are not identified, what else can be done? You have 100 apples and 3 are poisonous and you cannot identify those 3 poisonous apples, will you eat any one of them and take a chance?

    I am not a Trump supporter or Republican. I am independent. I am just trying to decide between a firing squad and hanging (i.e. between Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton).

  2. Thanks a lot, SG, for the elaborate comment. Really appreciate it.

    Yes, I agree that Trump has taken the initiative to talk of stuff like these which have been unspeakable for the run-of-the-mill politician.

    India has faced the issue of refugees, many of whom are undocumented and enjoying the State benefits. For example in the Northeast.

    Where I think Trump erred is, in his enthusiasm to be different and dramatic, he spoke recklessly and indiscreetly; with the result, many felt that they were being targeted, insulted, humiliated etc. Now that he is riding a tiger, he is finding it difficult to unmount.

    I was listening on BBC's Outlook yesterday, wherein a former Republican who lives in the Mexico border. He was saying he has been campaigning for the wall for a long time, and now if Trump is elected President and fails to build the wall, in the mid-term polls, Republican party, as we know it, will be finished.

    Indeed, illegal immigrants must be a big issue in the minds of all Americans. No wonder, Trump has been able to garner lots of votes. And I won't be surprised if he closes the gap with Clinton and even manages to edge past her.

    Americans haven't got the best of choices, but nevertheless, a good contest is on hands.