Published July 12, 2015
By now, we have all heard the headline grabbing statements presidential candidate Donald Trump has made about Mexicans, undocumented individuals, the border, crime and immigration. If we define success by the amount of air time he and his sound bites get, he is a massive, overwhelming success. Factor in the reality that he leads all Republican presidential candidates in the polls, and you have a bona fide candidate for President. Yes, half of what he says in the realm of immigration is just plain bombastic, inaccurate and even racist. And the other half actually start conversations on a number of important issues, such as the way our borders are protected and immigration laws enforced. Sure, we have a good sense of what The Donald thinks in terms of who make up, and are representative of, our nation’s undocumented population: mainly, bad people. But, with all of the noise and distractions that a Donald Trump statement brings, we have yet to be presented with his position on how he would address our nation’s problem of having 12 million + undocumented individuals living in our midst.
Are Mexican criminals, such as rapists, drug dealers and the 5 time deportee that recently murdered that young beautiful woman in San Francisco, representative of the Mexican undocumented, or the general undocumented, communities living on the U.S. side of the border? No way. While I am not a social scientist, I have 20 + years field experience being exposed to what our undocumented community looks like – at least in the Chicago area and greater Midwest. From my vantage point, and from those of the overwhelming majority of immigration law professionals and employers I have come into contact with over the past 2 decades, the undocumented community can best be described as hard working, family oriented, and otherwise (aside from immigration laws) law abiding. Most of these folks have taken a chance at not getting caught by immigration authorities and are working their tails off in order to achieve a better life for themselves and their families – a life they would never have had access to under current immigration laws. That is, there is generally no proper way for the vast majority of this segment of the population to legally immigrate to the U.S. There is no line to wait in, no form to fill out. For them, there is no “right way” to obtain lawful status, only wrong and illegal ways. The result is a population of more than 12 million undocumented – a population that has gotten bigger and bigger over successive Democratic and Republican administrations in the past 30+ years.
Donald Trump’s statements about building a wall across the U.S./Mexico border and ending “sanctuary cities” – where undocumented immigrants receive protection from federal authorities in towns like San Francisco, have for certain sparked important conversations. What our society does, or does not do, to give integrity to our immigration laws and protect our borders is certainly worthy of brave and vigorous debate. Unfortunately, when it comes to most of Trump’s statements, the public is served up a powerful alcoholic cocktail: 1 part valid public policy concerns and 2 parts explosive, sensational and likely inaccurate generalizations directed to appeal to an angry populace.
Notwithstanding all the press and attention Trump has commanded on the topic of U.S. immigration law, I still have not managed to learn his position on what he would do with our nation’s undocumented population. Round them all up and start removal proceedings against them? Absorb, and legalize the non-criminals? My thorough review of the Internet has revealed a fancy Trump for President campaign website and hundreds, if not thousands, of articles about what Donald Trump thinks about this or that. But as far as what to do with our nation’s undocumented, it appears Trump has not taken a position. It’s nowhere in the press coverage, not on his website, and not on his Wikipedia page. In my effort to dig deeper, I called his campaign office with my question. After getting bounced around from one extension to the other, it became clear no one had an answer. Eventually I was told to email my question to a press office email address. I have done this, and I look forward to learning the answer. My prediction is that it will look a lot like the stances, make that the mantras, of most other Republican presidential candidate wannabe’s of the recent past: We have to first secure the border, and after that, we will talk about it. (whatever that means)
PUBLISHED July 12, 2015– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2015, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois