The furor over Trump’s immigration plans ignores a key fact

Let the panic begin over Donald Trump’s immigration policy.

The New York Times published an article the other day titled “Sweeping raids, giant camps and mass deportations: Inside Trump’s 2025 immigration plans.”

The reaction has been one of shock and indignation.

MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote that “Trump envisions a model of government in which the government actually rounds up people and puts them in camps.”

Progressive publication Mother Jones called the immigration policy “the latest detailed authoritarian plan to emerge from the impeached former president’s think tank.”

It is certainly true that what Trump envisions is wildly ambitious to the point of being impractical. However, context matters.

Trump is formulating his plans at a time when we are experiencing a crisis at the border and witnessing an unprecedented surge of illegal immigrants into the country because the Biden administration refuses to enforce the law.

What is the appropriate response here?

Steer the sails of President Biden’s policy but largely accept it as the new status quo, even though no one in the mainstream would have found it tolerable just a few years ago?

The scale and urgency of Trump’s plans are appropriate for the moment.

The phrase “mass deportations” catches people’s attention (the New York Times headline alone will deter newcomers, at least initially, if Trump takes office again).

But we have already had years of “massive illegal arrivals.”

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, approximately 2.6 million illegal aliens have been released into the country since January 2021 and another 1.5 million have “absconded.”

There are 4 million people. No one voted to bring them here, and they are not so-called Dreamers: they have no lasting ties to their communities.

If they have no legitimate claims for asylum or any other legal standing, what right do they have to stay?

Trump wants to use federal agents to detain them and hold them in temporary facilities at the border until they can be deported.

This is “authoritarian” only from the perspective of total ignorance of American law, which requires Illegal aliens will be detained until expelled.

It is Biden the lawless executive who challenges the black and white federal statue.

Still, in practice, sending several thousand federal agents to detain 4 million people in a vast country will not be easy.

Among other things, political resistance will be fierce.

The same blue cities that think it’s terrible that they’ve been forced to accept so many illegal immigrants will turn around, if Trump is elected, and say it’s terrible that they’ve been forced to return home.

Still, if there are high-profile deportation operations, this will persuade some people to leave voluntarily and others not to try to come.

A more sustainable approach would be to use existing authorities to require illegal aliens to register with the government or face legal sanction; this would likely create an incentive for many to leave on their own.

An electronic verification system that requires employers to verify the legal status of their employees would also eliminate the job magnet for illegal immigration.

As for the border itself, the balance of Trump’s agenda is to restore policies that were working, especially Remain in Mexico, to keep bogus asylum seekers out of the country.

Biden gutted these policies for no good reason, and communities across the country have reaped the consequences.

There is much more that Trump wants to do in a flurry of actions (some in fact vulnerable to legal challenges) aimed at confusing the opposition.

But moving forward on too many fronts is likely to lead to mistakes and setbacks that undermine the overall goal.

The focus should be on regaining control of the border and reestablishing domestic surveillance to persuade more illegal immigrants to leave and not risk the journey to the border.

That would constitute a resumption of what should be considered the norm in immigration policy after years of malign neglect by Biden.

Twitter: @RichLowry

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