Donald Trump is in favor of granting amnesty to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, according to an opinion piece published on Newsweek online. The frontrunner for the Republican Presidential candidacy has always promised to create a 'deportation force' to extradite every last one of the 11 million undocumented migrants. However, apparently, under his US immigration plan Trump would 'move em back.'
Supporters of the real estate tycoon have given their backing for his plans to tackle illegal immigration in the US. Yet, they appear to have overlooked Trump's other promise that those deported will be allowed to return. Barring those with criminal records, nearly all of the 11 million illegal foreign nationals will have the opportunity to return and apply for some form of legal immigrant status to remain in the US.
Trump's Pro-Illegal Immigrant Amnesty Policies
Trump's support for an undocumented migrant amnesty is a far cry from his usual US immigration rhetoric. Much of his Presidential campaign has been spent vilifying immigrants, especially Mexicans - who he branded as 'rapists' – and Muslims, who he wants to ban from entering the US.
However, Donald Trump's son, Eric, has grown increasingly frustrated with how the media – particularly the Fox News Network – vilifies his father. During an interview with Fox News on November 12, 2015, Eric Trump tried to clarify his father's stance concerning the deportation of illegal immigrants.
Eric Trump said: "The point isn't just deporting them, it's deporting them and letting them back in legally. He's been so clear about that and I know the liberal media wants to misconstrue it, but it is deporting them and letting them back legally."
It appears that Eric Trump is correct in his assessment of his father's comments. Going back to a CNN interview with Dana Brash in July 2015, Trump outlined his plans like this:
"I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal….
A lot of these people are helping us … and sometimes it's jobs a citizen of the United States doesn't want to do. I want to move 'em out, and we're going to move 'em back in and let them be legal."
Trump's 'Touchback' Immigration Policy to allow immigrants to return
What Donald Trump is proposing is known as the 'touchback' policy, but it's not a new concept. The policy was actually put forward by Kay Bailey Hutchison, a moderate Republican Senator (Texas). The 'touchback' policy was proposed as an amendment on the Senate floor in 2007 and would require illegal immigrants to return to their home nations in order to apply for a special 'Z visa'.
The 'Z visa' would permit those illegal immigrants – who left the US – to return to the country at an accelerated rate. This would allow entry faster than would usually be the case when applying for an US immigrant visa, and would enable the now lawful immigrant to continue to work in the US for any employer. However, the amendment was never passed, losing by a small margin, 53 – 45.
The policy was supported by the majority of Republicans, even gaining five votes from the Democratic Party with senators Claire McCaskill, Max Baucus, Jon Tester, Byron Dorgan and John Rockefeller all voting in favor.
Trump's plan endorsed by the New York Times
The policy was considered so good that even The New York Times endorsed it. In an editorial titled 'Progress on Immigration,' The New York Times stated: "It's not ideal, but if a touchback provision is manageable and reassures people that illegal immigrants are indeed going to the back of the line, then it will be defensible."
In effect, Trump is proposing something similar (actually it seems a more generous immigration policy) as part of his US immigration policy - sending illegal immigrants back to their home countries and then allowing those without criminal records to return quickly to the US - an idea endorsed by The New York Times. The idea has even been backed by illegal immigrants.
The first ever telephone poll of illegal immigrants - carried out by The Los Angeles Times in 2007 – asked if they would return to their home countries under a 'touchback' law that would allow them to return with legal status. 63 per cent said they would, 27 per cent said they would refuse, while 10 per cent were undecided. When offered a route to US citizenship, the number who said they would leave and return legally increased to 85 per cent.
Illegal immigrants support touchback policy
The vast majority of illegal immigrants have said they would voluntarily comply with what Trump is proposing, therefore removing the need for a deportation force, which, anyway, already exists in the form of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
However, Trump's plan remains controversial, after all, the touchback policy would see those illegal immigrants who leave and return fast-tracked back into the country ahead of those who have actually complied with US immigration laws.
An editorial piece published in National Review back in 2007 actually draws attention to this. The publication labelled touchback 'a fraud that gives illegal aliens their own privileged pathway ahead of applicants who have complied with US immigration laws.'
Essentially, what this means is that for all Trump's anti undocumented immigrant rhetoric, he might actually want to grant amnesty to nearly all of the millions of illegal immigrants currently residing in the country. Many people will surely think this is bizarre in view of his, apparently hard-line anti-Hispanic immigrant views. However, it is also widely believed that Trump needs illegal immigrants to work at Trump construction sites.