By Altaf Moti
Former President Donald Trump has outlined a radical shift in U.S. immigration policy if he’s elected president again in 2024, vowing to implement a slew of unprecedented measures targeting both legal and unauthorized immigrants, including a massive deportation blitz.
Trump’s immigration plan, which he announced in a series of speeches and interviews is widely seen as an attempt to appeal to his core supporters and to reverse the immigration agenda of President Joe Biden who has taken a more humane and welcoming approach to immigrants and refugees.
Here are some of the key points of Trump’s immigration plan and what they mean for the U.S. and the world.
Trump has promised to deport millions of undocumented immigrants especially those with criminal records or final removal orders, within his first year in office. He said he will mobilize thousands of immigration agents and use military aircrafts and buses to transport the immigrants to their countries of origin or to third countries that agree to accept them.
Trump has also said he will end the practice of “catch and release” which allows some immigrants who are apprehended at the border to be released into the U.S. while they await their immigration hearings. Instead, he said he will detain all immigrants in “tent cities” or “beautiful facilities” until they are deported or granted asylum.
Trump’s deportation plan would affect an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the U.S., many of whom have been in the country for years and have established families, jobs and communities. The plan would also face legal and operational challenges such as due process rights, resource constraints and cooperation from foreign governments.
Ending Birthright Citizenship
Trump has also vowed to end birthright citizenship, which grants U.S. citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil regardless of their parents’ immigration status. He said he will issue an executive order or support a constitutional amendment to change the interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
Trump’s proposal to end birthright citizenship would affect an estimated 4.7 million U.S.-born children who have at least one undocumented parent, according to the Pew Research Center. These children would lose their U.S. citizenship and become vulnerable to deportation or statelessness. The proposal would also face constitutional questions, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed the principle of birthright citizenship.
Ideological Screening and Travel Ban
Trump has also proposed to conduct “ideological screening” of all immigrants to the U.S., and to deport those who sympathize with Hamas or other staunch Muslims. He said he will revoke student visas of “radical anti-American and antisemitic foreigners” and send immigration officers to “pro-jihadist demonstrations” to arrest and deport immigrants who publicly support Hamas.
Trump’s ideological screening plan is based on a law that bars communists from entering the U.S., which he said he will expand to include “anyone who believes in the destruction of America or Israel”. He said he will also reinstate and expand the travel ban that he imposed on several predominantly Muslim countries during his first term citing national security concerns.
Trump’s ideological screening and travel ban plan would affect millions of immigrants who come to the U.S. for various reasons such as education, work, family or humanitarian protection. The plan would also raise civil rights and human rights issues, such as freedom of expression, religion and association as well as discrimination and profiling based on ethnicity, nationality or ideology.
Naval Blockade and Military Action
Trump has also announced that he will launch a naval blockade of drug smuggling boats in the waters off the U.S. and Latin America and that he will designate drug cartels as unlawful enemy combatants allowing the U.S. military to target them in Mexico. He said he will also expand Texas’ floating barriers in the Rio Grande, a river that forms part of the U.S.-Mexico border, and complete the border wall that he started building during his first term.
Trump’s naval blockade and military action plan is aimed at curbing the flow of drugs and migrants from Latin America to the U.S., which he said is a major threat to U.S. security and sovereignty. He said he will also work with friendly governments in the region such as Brazil and Colombia to combat drug trafficking and illegal immigration.
Trump’s naval blockade and military action plan would have significant implications for the U.S. and its neighbors such as escalating tensions, violence, and instability in the region, violating international law and sovereignty, and affecting trade and cooperation. The plan would also require substantial resources, coordination and authorization from Congress and other entities.
Anti-Muslim and Anti-Palestinian Sentiments
Trump has a long history of expressing anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian sentiments, dating back to his first presidential campaign in 2016, when he called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S. He has also been a staunch supporter of Israel and its right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has pursued aggressive policies against the Palestinians such as expanding illegal settlements, annexing parts of the occupied West Bank and launching deadly attacks on Gaza.
Trump has implemented several measures that have harmed the Palestinians and their aspirations for statehood such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the U.S. embassy there, cutting off aid to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees and endorsing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He has also tried to impose a peace plan that was widely rejected by the Palestinians and the international community as it favored Israel’s interests and demands.
Trump has recently announced that if he wins the 2024 election, he will reinstate and expand the travel ban to include Gaza, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and any other country that threatens U.S. security. He also said he will bar refugees from Gaza, where Israel has killed more than 11,000 people in a recent war with Hamas. He also said he will deport any immigrant who supports Hamas or other Muslim organizations similar to it, and revoke their U.S. citizenship if they have it.
Trump has justified his immigration plans by claiming that they are necessary to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks and to defend Israel and “Judeo-Christian civilization and values”. He has also accused the Biden administration of being weak and incompetent on immigration and national security issues.
Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian sentiments reflect his worldview and his political strategy, as he seeks to appeal to his evangelical and pro-Israel base and to portray himself as a strong and decisive leader who can confront the enemies of America and its allies.
Reactions and Motivations
Trump’s immigration plan has drawn mixed reactions from his supporters and critics as well as from experts and observers. Some of his supporters, such as former DHS Secretary Chad Wolf have defended his plan as enforcing the immigration law and protecting the U.S. from foreign threats. Some of his critics such as former Biden administration official Angela Kelley, have denounced his plan as extreme and terrorizing, and as a political stunt to rally his base.
Trump’s immigration plan may be motivated by several factors, such as the record levels of unauthorized crossings at the southern border, which have exceeded 200,000 per month in recent months, according to CBP data. Trump has blamed the Biden administration for creating a “border crisis” by reversing his immigration policies such as the Muslim ban, the wealth and health tests, and the Remain in Mexico program, which were all challenged in court or rescinded by Biden.
Trump’s immigration plan may also be motivated by his popularity among his core supporters, who view immigration as a top issue and who favor his hardline stance on the matter. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 75% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say that illegal immigration is a very big problem for the country, compared to 19% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Trump’s immigration plan may also be motivated by his desire to reverse Biden’s immigration agenda, which he has called a “disaster” and a “betrayal” of the American people.
In short, Trump’s immigration plan for 2024 is a radical departure from the current U.S. immigration policy and from the historical and global norms of immigration and refugee protection. The plan would affect millions of immigrants and refugees as well as the U.S. and its allies and partners in various ways. The plan would also face legal and practical challenges, as well as political and public opposition. The plan reflects Trump’s vision of America and its role in the world, and his strategy to win back the White House in 2024.