Trump sets tone for GOP field on immigration

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s hard line stance on immigration -- including his plan to force Mexico pay for the border wall, ending birthright citizenship and requiring mandatory E-Verify for all employers -- has set the tone for the Republican field.

Trump recently released his immigration policy statement on his website, though some campaign watchers are wondering if he read his own policy.

“Whatever pops out of his mouth is different from his position paper,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., said.

Krikorian said Trump’s plan does contain some very strong elements, but some less desirable elements, as well.

“The idea that we need a 2,000-mile wall on the (U.S.-Mexico) border is a distraction and distracts voters from what needs to be done," he said. "We’re not going to get the bang for our buck by extending fences in West Texas where there is not a lot of illegals crossing.”

Krikorian said many more illegal immigrants remain in the country on expired visas.

Roy Beck is president of NumbersUSA in Arlington, Virginia., an organization that advocates for restricting levels.

“Trump has put together the most complete and concise plan on legal immigration than any major party candidate has ever put forward, although we’ve watched it develop like a reality show,” he said. 

Beck added the most important element of Trump’s plan is pushing for the use of E-Verify, a system employers can use to verify the citizenship of a potential job candidate.

“Trump recognizes that the magnet for illegal immigration is jobs. You've got to cut that magnet off, you have to verify, and that stops pulling illegals in.” Beck added it’s not expensive and since it would be mandatory for all employees, it eliminates the threat of racial profiling.

Beck said his organization also supports Trump’s position on legal immigration.

“Legal immigration should be handled on what’s best for the American worker and Trump has laid it out," he said. "We shouldn’t have qualified workers come here and take jobs from Americans. If a job is available, an American citizen should have first chance.”

University of California Los Angeles Law School Professor Hiroshi Motomura, an expert in immigration law, told the American Media Institute what he found most disturbing about Trump’s immigration plan was the issue of birthright citizenship.

“To deny citizenship to babies is a recipe for disaster,” he said. “You would have millions without any citizenship in this country and many of them would be stateless. The idea of birthright citizenship is not unprecedented. It has value in primaries to go for the dramatic, quick solution. It’s a dramatic way to be seen as hard line.”

Motomura said there is a such a reliance on undocumented labor he feels the consequences of Trump's policies would be disastrous.

“We’ve had a system in place for the last 50 years of looking the other way,” he said.

Motomura said many Americans don’t understand how difficult it is for a non-degreed immigrant to legally obtain U.S. citizenship.

“It’s really hard to come here legally if you have a skill but not a college degree, especially if you come from Mexico," he said. "There is a longer wait line, no line for a lot of people. I’ve talked to employers who have told me it’s hard to get a legal visa to come here if you’re a welder or a mason.”