Donald Trump’s immigration plan — send them all back to Mexico! No more anchor babies! — has been one of the hottest topics in the 2016 election. The plan appeals to the xenophobic population in the U.S., which unfortunately is a rather large percentage of the American electorate.
There are a lot of issues with the plan: it’s inhumane, it’s expensive, and it would essentially turn the US into a police state. Even more than that, as resident scholar of the conservative American Enterprise Institute Michael R. Strain points out, a plan of this scale would undoubtedly have a margin of error, deporting people who are actually U.S. citizens.
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Strain cites research that shows U.S. citizens can get swept up in government deportation programs:
Based on a 2011 paper by Northwestern University professor Jacqueline Stevens and a 2011 report from the University of California, Berkeley’s law school, let’s say that about 1 percent of total apprehensions are in error because the person apprehended is a U.S. citizen. (Remember, these estimates are based on today’s data.) One percent of 11 million implies over 100,000 U.S. citizens mistakenly apprehended, some of whom may end up deported. That’s a lot of people. It eclipses in number the internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
Say instead the error rate is 0.1 percent; a rate likely much lower than it would be in reality, despite Trump’s promises of “really good management.” That’s still thousands of people. Thousands of U.S. citizens apprehended by a police state — men, women and children who are guaranteed the protections of the Constitution.
Trump has promised he will remove all undocumented immigrants from the country “so fast your head will spin,” specifically, in under two years. To remove 11 million people in under two years, you can’t allow “for the careful deportation hearings” that would weed out the citizens and ensure only undocumented immigrants are torn from their homes.
Strain still comes down on the conservative side of the illegal immigration issue. He mentions that “inevitable error is not… a reason to stop a program of… deporting immigrants unlawfully living… in the United States.” However, Trump’s measures are extreme, and would require a police state. If a someone truly believes in small government, they should be “apoplectic about a policy” that doesn’t stand up to the conservative “understanding of the relationship between citizen and government.”
Trump’s deportation policy isn’t a matter of liberal ideas versus conservative ideas. It’s a matter of human rights violations versus the very thing America stands for. Strain worries about what the plan would do to U.S. citizens, sure, but he also understands it would be a black mark on “the character of the nation.”
The fact that Trump is still center stage in these GOP debates is an embarrassment to the Republican party and to America as a whole.
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