2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has finally started to lay out his immigration plan: Deport the undocumented population, but allow some immigrants back into the country through an expedited system to obtain legal status.
“I would get people out and I would have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so that they can be legal,” Trump said during an interview with CNN New Day’s Dana Bash on Wednesday. He added that he would keep the “bad dudes” out of the country, including immigrants with criminal convictions.
Trump indicated that he didn’t have a plan to locate undocumented individuals, but noted he would “find them and get them out,” a wholly feasible process because he knows “how to manage.”
Trump simultaneously softened his stance and advocated for a blanket deportation policy when asked about what he would do with the 1.8 million population of so-called DREAMers, or immigrants who were brought to the country as children.
“On a humanitarian basis, you have a lot of deep thought going into this, believe me,” Trump said. “I actually have a big heart, a lot of people don’t understand that. The DREAMers, it’s a tough situation. One of the things is we’re going to expedite — when someone’s terrific, we want them back here. But they have to be legal.”
When Bash pressed him on whether that process involves deportation, Trump elaborated, “They’re with their parents, it depends. Look, it sounds cold. It sounds hard. We have a country. Our country is going to hell. We have to have a system where people are legally in our country.”
The deportation-for-all approach is growing in popularity among Republican voters. A recent CNN/ORC poll found that 63 percent of Republican voters would support deporting the population of 11 million undocumented immigrants.
But as a man who once said that the President “hurt us economically,” Trump may be interested to know that a deportation-for-all policy would crash the economy. The center-right organization American Action Forum (AAF) found that it would cost anywhere between $400 billion and $600 billion to apprehend, detain, legally process, and transport every undocumented immigrant back to their countries of origin. The report also found that without the 11 million undocumented immigrants, the U.S. labor force would shrink and real GDP would be reduced by $1.6 trillion.
Both Arizona and Alabama took an economic hit when officials put in place stringent, anti-immigrant laws meant to drive out the immigrant population. Arizona lost educated immigrants (like the ones that Trump touted in his interview with Bash), while Alabama lost agricultural workers en masse.
A little more than a month ago, Trump skyrocketed to nativist infamy when he proclaimed that some Mexican immigrants were rapists and drug dealers. He’s since taken on an anti-immigrant crusade to call on states and localities to get rid of so-called sanctuary cities, or places generally with large immigrant populations where local law enforcement officials choose not to prosecute and hold suspected undocumented immigrants for potential federal deportation proceedings.
Republican presidential candidates like Jeb Bush (R-FL), Rick Perry (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and George Pataki (R-NY) have since distanced themselves from Trump’s comments about immigrants. A Republican National Committee “autopsy” report found that the GOP needs Latino voters to win in 2016, but it seems that Trump’s plans to deport immigrants are no different than former Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) plan for immigrants to “self-deport.” Soon after Romney made those comments, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said they were “horrific.”