The Corner

National Security & Defense

Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan — A First Impression

Donald Trump made his first circuit of the Sunday shows today, giving NBC’s Meet the Press an extended face-to-face interview, and calling in to ABC’s This Week. The former included the above segment, about Trump’s official immigration policy paper, now available on his website.

An excerpt:

The three core principles of Donald J. Trump’s immigration plan

When politicians talk about “immigration reform” they mean: amnesty, cheap labor and open borders. The Schumer-Rubio immigration bill was nothing more than a giveaway to the corporate patrons who run both parties.

Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first – not wealthy globetrotting donors. We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of our own. That must change. Here are the three core principles of real immigration reform:

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

I’ll leave it to my betters to dig into the specifics of Trump’s plan, though in passing: The Editors recently opined on Trump’s plan to make Mexico pay for a wall on the Southern border, and on his plan to deport, then re-import, current illegal immigrants. About birthright citizenship, NR has had a fair amount of in-house debate: read Ramesh Ponnuru on the subject in 2006, Reihan Salam in 2010, or Mark Krikorian earlier this year.

But on the principles, a word.

In April I commended Scott Walker for questioning what seems to be a broad liberal consensus, one that encompasses both Democrats and a hefty number of Republicans, on the subject of immigration. I wrote, “Walker is simply suggesting that American policymakers consider Americans when making policy.”

Earlier this month I applauded Bobby Jindal’s forceful remarks (during the 5 P.M. Fox News debate) about the importance of assimilation. I wrote, “Th[e] American project is something to which any person can sign on. But why should we invite those inimical to it? Cultural discrimination is the prerogative of any nation. And any nation that refuses to do it probably won’t remain a nation for long.”

Maddening as he is, Donald Trump seems to have intuited that consensus and its deficiencies, and his “three core principles” are admirable — they express forcefully and succinctly the existential question that is at the root of the immigration debate. The question for Trump is whether these good principles have led to good policies. At a glance, there is some sense in his plan (nationwide e-Verify, an end to catch-and-release policies, defunding sanctuary cities) and a fair amount of nonsense.

But getting the principles right is crucial, and it is more than some other candidates have managed. The candidate who wants to be formidable, and knock Trump from his perch, would assert The Donald’s principles, then bolster them with solid policies.

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