While many mainstream media outlets and establishment politicians have been quick to criticize Donald Trump’s policy paper on immigration reform, polls show that the American electorate overwhelmingly support Trump’s proposal of immigration moderation.
Decreasing immigration is overwhelmingly popular with the American electorate—especially women, minorities, liberal and independent voters with whom the Republican Party desperately needs to make inroads. Polls from Fox News and Gallup show that Americans — by a 2-to-1 ratio — want to see visa issuances reduced.
A 2012 Pew Poll found that 69 percent of Americans want to place greater restrictions on who was allowed into the United States. A recent poll from Kellyanne Conway found that a plurality of Americans wish to see a moratorium on immigration for the time being. And a separate poll by KellyAnne Conway found that Hispanics, by nearly a seven to one ratio, want employers to hire workers already in the country rather than importing foreign workers to fill jobs. Black voters support this measure by a ratio of almost 30 to 1.
Trump’s plan calls for a series of popular enforcement measures, as well as several economic policies that would help raise wages for middle class families and blue-collar workers, as well as help further assimilation of immigrants already inside the United States.
As Trump writes: “Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first – not wealthy globetrotting donors. We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of our own. That must change.”
Trump’s enforcement proposals include the construction of a border wall, the mandatory return of all criminal aliens, the implementation of nationwide E-verify, a tripling in the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, the cessation of the Obama Administration’s catch-and-release detention policies, the abolishment of sanctuary cities, the implementation of a visa tracking system and criminal penalties for illegally overstaying a temporary visa.
Polls show that the American people overwhelmingly support such measures. For instance, with regards to sanctuary cities, polls show Americans oppose them and wish to see them defunded by a 2-to-1 margin. With regards to the border wall, the latest Rasmussen Reports survey released on August 19th, found that likely Republican voters by greater than a 4-1 margin support Trump’s plan to build a border wall (70 percent vs. 17 percent). Amongst all likely voters, a majority (51 percent) support building the border wall. The same survey found that by a 23-to-1 margin, Republican voters support Trump’s plan to implement the mandatory return of all criminal aliens (92 percent vs. 4 percent).
Even Mark Zuckerberg’s pro-amnesty immigration lobbying group FWD.us has reported in the past that such enforcement measures are supported by the vast majority of the American electorate– even though these measures were not included in the massive 2013 Schumer-Rubio immigration bill, which FWD.us lobbied for heavily.
Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of a variety of proposed reform measures, including implementing a new entry and exit visa tracking system (86% support/11% oppose), requiring employers to electronically verify the legal status of job-seekers (82%/16%), and giving the Department of Homeland Security more resources to secure the border (78%/21%). Each of these three proposals receives the support of at least three-quarters of voters from both parties.
Senator Marco Rubio, who co-authored and voted for the 2013 Senate bill, which represents the largest immigration expansion in U.S. history, has criticized Trump’s plan—claiming that “the majority of it is really not a workable plan that could ever pass Congress.”
However, contrary to Rubio’s assertion, many of Trump’s provisions have already been passed through Congress, have been introduced as legislation that has bipartisan support, or have been in law for decades and would simply require enforcement by a new chief executive.
For instance, one of the most discussed elements of Trump’s enforcement priorities is the construction of a border wall. This legislation is not controversial. In fact, in 2006 Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, which authorized the construction– but never oversaw the completion– of a 700-mile border fence.
Trump’s proposal to implement a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system has similarly been supported by Congress in the past. As the Center for Immigration Studies has explained, “Congress has mandated the deployment of an exit-tracking system in eight separate statutes, starting in 1996. The three most recent laws require a biometric element. But the executive branch has so far refused to implement such a system.”
With regards to his economic immigration policies, Trump’s describes his platform as one of “immigration moderation”– i.e. returning immigration to lower, more normal historical levels from today’s surging record highs.
As Trump writes, “before any new green cards are issued to foreign workers abroad, there will be a pause where employers will have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers. This will help reverse women’s plummeting workplace participation rate, grow wages, and allow record immigration levels to subside to more moderate historical averages.”
Today the immigrant to population ratio is already at its highest level in 105 years. Unlike the 1880-1920 immigration wave, though, the visas handed out post-1970 have been mostly to non-western nations with no common history to that of the United States.
Under current U.S. immigration policy, each year the U.S. admits one million plus foreign nationals on green cards, one million temporary workers, their dependents and refugees, and another half a million foreign youths sought by college administrators. The Census Bureau forecasts that in a few years, driven by our visa issuances to poor countries, the immigrant to population ratio will explode past all known historical markers.
A 2014 poll commissioned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) found that immigration policy that prioritizes Americans workers resonates well with women voters. For instance, women support an immigration policy puts Americans back to work by a 4-1 margin (72 percent vs. 17 percent). Women who identified as Democrats supported this proposal by greater than a two to one margin (62 percent vs. 24 percent). This policy is similarly popular with blue-collar voters making less than $50,000 per year who support the measure by a four-to-one margin (70 percent vs. 16 percent).
Trump’s plan details initiatives that would crack down on the excessive admittance of guest workers and H-1B abuses by “raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs” which “will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas.”
Under current federal law, the prevailing wage is a complex formula that establishes a kind of wage floor for foreign imported workers. Because 82 percent of H-1Bs are paid less than the average wage, they are easily substituted for more talented and experienced American workers. The result is less innovation but more corporate profits.
This policy distinguishes Trump from virtually every top Republican candidate running for president. Marco Rubio, for instance, recently co-authored bill known as the I-Squared bill, which would triple the number of H-1bs, and Ted Cruz introduced an amendment to the Rubio-Schumer bill that would expand H-1B visas by 500 percent.
The H-1B visa is a visa popular with corporations that allows companies to replace Americans tech workers with foreign workers who’ll accept lower salaries. This recently happened in Rubio’s home state of Florida, where Disney reportedly sacked 250 workers and forced them to train their H-1B replacements. Disney has endorsed Rubio’s I-Squared bill as its CEO sits on the board of the lobbying group pushing for its passage.
Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration lobbying group has also called Rubio’s bill “our gold standard for high tech reform”. Trump highlighted this contrast between his and Rubio’s plan on immigration, declaring that while Trump’s immigration plan would “improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program[,] Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.”
While Rubio opposes Trump’s plan to prioritize American workers above imported foreign guest workers, Trump’s proposal actually has bipartisan support in Congress.
A number of lawmakers, including Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Claire McCaskill, Bernie Sanders, and Sherrod Brown have argued that we need to eliminate the usage of the H-1B visa for low-wage programs and require companies to hire and retain American workers before they petition for H-1Bs. As Sens. Sessions and Durbin wrote in joint press release issued in April of this year:
A bipartisan group of ten United States Senators today in writing to three federal agencies – the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Labor – [are] calling for an investigation into abuses within the H-1B visa program. This bipartisan group has different perspectives on immigration reform, but they are united in their belief that our immigration systems should not be exploited to facilitate the displacement of American workers.
Trump’s plan also includes a provision to help promote economic and social mobility for inner city youths by eliminating the J-1 visa: “The J-1 visa jobs program for foreign youth will be terminated and replaced with a resume bank for inner city youth provided to all corporate subscribers to the J-1 visa program.”
Ending the J-1 visa has broad bipartisan appeal. As Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders explained in 2013: “The J-1 visa program allows corporations to replace young American workers with cheaper labor from abroad.”
In a 2013 speech on the Senate floor, Sanders railed against the J-1 visa:
Every year companies from all over this country are hiring more than 100,000 foreign college students in low-wage jobs through the J-1 summer work travel program… We are creating a situation where it is absolutely advantageous for an employer to hire a foreign worker rather than an American worker… We cannot turn our backs on those young [Americans]. They need jobs as well. If young people… don’t get those jobs and that income — there is a very strong possibility they may end up in antisocial or self-destructive activities. […] We are creating a permanent underclass — a large number of people who are poorly educated and who have limited or no job skills. This is an issue we must address and must address now. Either we make a serious effort to find jobs for our young people now or we are going to pay later in terms of increased crime and the cost of incarceration.
Sanders also argued that the Rubio-Schumer bill “increases youth unemployment by bringing into this country, through the J-1 program and the H-2B program, hundreds of thousands of low-skilled, entry-level workers who are taking the jobs young Americans need.”
Nonetheless, Sanders voted for Rubio’s bill anyway, which had the backing of La Raza and Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
Trump has also called for reforming our refugee program to “increase standards for the admission of refugees and asylum-seekers to crack down on abuses.”
Republican Congressman Brian Babin (R-TX) has introduced legislation, which, as he explained in an op-ed with Breitbart News, would “push the pause button on refugee resettlement” within the United States.
Of the roughly 5 million green cards dispensed between 2009 and 2013, around 500,000 were for refugees. Seventy-five percent of refugees were from the four countries of Iraq, Burma, Bhutan, and Somalia. The United States’ generous refugee program has imported many individuals into the United States that do not subscribe to American values—many of who hold anti-Western and anti-women attitudes. For instance, Minnesota, which has the largest Somali population in the country, has struggled to stem terror recruiting.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently reported that six men from Minnesota were arrested and charged attempting to fight alongside ISIS. During the last two years alone, more than 20 Somali-Americans from Minnesota have left the U.S. to fight alongside terrorists under the banner of ISIL. Similarly, as National Review has reported, “Dearborn, Michigan is home to just under 100,000 people, about 40 percent of whom are Muslim. In 2013, a leaked government document revealed that more people from Dearborn were on the federal terrorist watch list than from any other city except New York.”
The importation of refugees– almost exclusively a product of legal immigration– from Muslim countries has put more than half a million girls in the U.S. at risk of female genital mutilation– that’s more girls at risk in the United States than in Uganda and Cameroon. In other words, for all practical purposes, the 1965 Kennedy-backed immigration law legally enables extremist Muslims from around the world to come to the United States and bring anti-women practices with them. The border has nothing to do with it.
Trump also has a plan to correct the misconception that illegal alien babies are automatic U.S. citizens who collect welfare, housing subsidies, and eventually vote in our elections. Additionally, under universities’ system of racial preferences, anchor babies will get bonus SAT and GPA points when they earned when they apply to college. Many corporations will continue this benefits program when considering their job applications as well.
Despite the Republican Establishment and media elites’ hand-wringing over Trump’s birthright citizenship pledge, polls show that vast majority of the American electorate agree with Trump’s position. A 2011 Rasmussen Reports survey found that only 28 percent of likely U.S. voters believe that children born to illegal immigrants in this country should automatically be American citizens.
Perhaps indicative of just how mainstream Trump’s position on immigration is with the American people, in 1993 Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid delivered a speech on the Senate floor in which he said that “no sane country” would reward automatic birthright citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants: “If you break our laws by entering this country without permission and give birth to a child, we reward that child with U.S. citizenship and guarantee a full access to all public and social services this society provides – and that’s a lot of services.”
While inside-the-beltway elites stand hell-bent against Trump’s proposals, the response amongst the American public shows that his mainstream agenda appeals to liberals and conservatives alike. As Vox’s Ezra Klein has observed:
Part of what makes Trump dangerous is that he’s willing to cater to the opinions of the Republican base in ways that the Republican establishment wouldn’t dare… When it comes to immigration — the one policy question on which everyone knows Trump’s stance — Republican voters prefer him to the other candidates… On free trade deals, Trump shares a skepticism held by about half of Republican voters, but that’s usually suppressed by the party’s powerful business wing… Trump isn’t beholden to the GOP for money, staff, power, or press attention. That frees him to take positions that Republican voters like but Republican Party elites loathe.