Just as Donald Trump began to gain traction as a serious candidate for president he offers a disclaimer. He passionately argued with Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that all illegal immigrants, their parents and children should be rounded up and deported from the United States. Never mind that this effort would require a police force beyond any that the USA has ever seen. Never mind that finding and detaining more than 11 million illegal immigrants would be the easy part of this impossible task.
Pew Research estimates that there were 11.3 million illegals in America in 2014, comprising 3.4 percent of the population. 8.2 million workers make up 5.2 percent of America’s workforce. In four states — Nevada, California, Texas and New Jersey — illegal immigrants make up nearly 10 percent of all workers, according to Pew’s July 24 Facttank.
Mr. Trump apparently intends to deport these people to Mexico. However, only 52 percent of the illegal population is from Mexico. This means that an estimated 5.4 million are from other countries. So, the question arises, which countries would agree to take in millions of refugees? The most likely answer is “None.”
Frankly, there is some confusion about Mr. Trump’s position on this issue. His six-page position paper on the topic of immigration is well thought out and well sourced. It advocates deporting only criminals, not a controversial position. His personal interviews, however, strongly support mass deportation. On Sunday, Mr. Todd pressed him for specifics on how much such an effort would cost and how would he pay for it? Mr. Trump’s answer was finally “Management.” Not a very satisfying answer.
The costs come from finding and arresting a population as large as the populations of New York City and Chicago combined. Even with diverting local police departments, the costs would be astronomical. Add to that the costs of transporting, temporarily housing, feeding, and providing medical care for the detainees, plus the costs of processing each and every single individual, plus the costs of storing and making available millions of records. Add also the building of the concentration camps where all these activities could take place. The financial burden would become unsustainable.
In addition to the financial costs of such a program, there is also the moral cost. America eliminated slavery in 1863, but the shadow of slavery still hovers over our country 150 years later. On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an executive order which resulted in the apprehension and relocation of approximately 127,000 Japanese Americans for the duration of World War II – an act which has shamed our country ever since. And now we are talking about rounding up more than 11 million people, including whole families, old people, babies, mothers and fathers, and children who have been in American schools and universities all their lives. We will then transport them to concentrations camps until they can be sent to other countries? They will become refugees to outnumber all the camps in Jordan and Lebanon and Turkey combined? Millions would starve and whole nations would collapse under the burden of so many refugees. What then? We parachute relief supplies into the camps we have created?
This proposition would put the America in the same category as the ethnic-cleansing programs of Tsarist Russia and Nazi Germany. Perhaps the dead would number less than 6 million, perhaps not.
It is hard to believe that Americans, after due consideration, would really want any part of such program – even Mr. Trump.
There has to be a better way.