Donald Trump has allayed all fears of flip-flopping on immigration after his speech Wednesday night in Phoenix. His 10 point plan isn’t an immigration plan at all: it’s a deportation plan. And a terribly ignorant one at that.

The first glaring hole in Trump’s “policy” is due process of law. Trump came through with the same reprehensible rhetoric copied from nearly every failed exclusionary policy that we as a country have historically wound up regretting. Build a wall. Kick out the bad ones. Extreme vetting. Ideological tests. Blanket suspension of immigration from – let’s cut to the chase – Muslim countries. And nary a mention of the legal process to do any of it.

Under the Fourteenth Amendment, all persons in the United States enjoy equal protection under the law. And under the Fifth Amendment, no person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process. This is well-settled law reaching back hundreds of years – and yes, it applies in removal proceedings. The misconception that an undocumented immigrant has no rights in the US because he broke the immigration law is nonsensical: though the process due may vary, it applies to all.

This means an undocumented immigrant cannot simply be “gone” as Trump believes. Generally, there is a hearing, an opportunity to show cause as to why the immigrant should be allowed to stay. Deportation is not automatic. It’s not even quick. And sometimes it’s not even possible. Yet Trump – while pointing fingers at the current executive branch for writing their own law, simply says it will be done via a curious process he called “immediate removal proceedings.” This shows his ignorance of the process he wants to carry out about 11 million times. Khizr Khan was right: Trump hasn’t read the Constitution.

In addition to his core policy of en masse forced deportations, he wants to asphyxiate the majority of undocumented immigrants by bringing back widely derided policies like 287(g), revoke executive actions that offered temporary reprieve from removal, shut out refugees, and hang a “CLOSED” sign on his new wall. This is simply Trump-speak for Mitt Romney’s idea of “self-deportation”: make life difficult enough for undocumented immigrants, and they’ll simply leave. Romney was ridiculed in 2012 for saying this, but Trump’s outlined plan is effectively the same.


Khizr Khan was right: Trump hasn’t read the Constitution.

Trump berated the current administration for not having any idea how many undocumented people are in the US. Yet there was a similar garing hole in Trump’s speech: namely, a definition of “undocumented.” He mentions people who enter illegally and also visa overstays. But the line between legal and illegal isn’t so simple. Many people who are out of status have viable claims for asylum, withholding, deferral or cancellation of removal, or may qualify for various waivers of unlawful presence. Many people with status may lose it, and yet qualify to regain it.

His pre-speech hypemen – Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Rudy Guiliani, Sen. Jeff Sessions – all push the “threat” of illegal immigration. Trump shamelessly exploited the Angel Moms, parading them on stage, telling them illegal immigration is what killed their loved ones. The irony of the ease with which the guns that killed them was lost on him. His plan, born of fear, is a poorly scripted act of security theater. It will place even greater pressure on our borders, break down international relations, encourage profiling, institutionalize prejudice, and divert resources away from assessing real threats.

Deportation is the easy, low-fat, instant solution to every bigot’s angst at the loss of an America that used to be great. But it is no panacea. It epically failed when MS-13 gang members were deported to El Salvador in the 1980’s. These gangs thrived on a diet of blood, drugs, and guns and now has helped create the world’s most dangerous countries and a humanitarian crisis on our southern border. Yet Trump believes justice and prosperity will prevail if we deport criminals (many of whom simply re-enter) and break up families.

Yes, immigration must put the best interests of the American people first. But immigrants are the American people. We are who we are because we let people in, not because we shut them out. Every group we’ve tried to exclude became us. We have to move past this knee-jerk reaction to close our borders every time xenophobia raises its ugly head. We are American, and we are better than this.

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