Where Would Trump Be If He Had Run as What He Is: the Amnesty Candidate?

One of the great ironies of the 2016 campaign is that Donald Trump, who has run as the immigration scourge, is actually the amnesty candidate.

Trump has expressly vowed to give legal status to millions of illegal aliens. For any other candidate, such a promise would have been the campaign death knell. To compare, John Kasich -- who is openly pro-amnesty -- has lost 38 of 39 primaries (the sole exception being his own state) and has never been a plausible contestant. When it comes to Trump, however, it seems that the all-important amnesty fine-print of his immigration position has been overlooked. This is no doubt due to his consciously controversial rhetoric: his fixation about building a wall on the Mexican border, his oft-repeated commitment to mass-deportation of illegal aliens, his disparaging comments about Mexicans, and his proposed moratorium on Muslim immigration.

Yet, Trump is the amnesty candidate. What’s more, the amnesty component of his immigration plan is the only part that has a realistic chance of happening.

Trump is not going to build his wall, much less make Mexico pay for it, as he has insisted our southern neighbor will do. Quite apart from the fact that much of the border is not suitable terrain for wall construction, his wall would be astronomically more expensive to build than he has estimated, and in any event, Democrats and many Republicans in Congress would block funding for it. (To be clear: I favor construction of walls and/or fencing where practical; but a wall is only one component, and not nearly the most critical one, of what must be a multi-faceted strategy if we are to be serious about border security.)

Trump’s categorical moratorium on Muslim immigration would also be rejected. It is foolish policy and the legal argument against it, though unpersuasive (aliens outside the U.S. do not have constitutional anti-discrimination rights or any claim on entitlement to admission into our country), would be treated as serious by the Left, the media, and those Republicans who similarly believe that anything foolish must perforce be unconstitutional.

The silliest component of the Trump plan is mass-deportation. There are approximately 11 million illegal aliens in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security does not have the resources to (a) round them all up, (b) conduct the required legal proceedings, and (c) send them all to their native countries. The funding required would dwarf the cost of Trump’s fantasy wall.

Trump fans might claim that it would be an expense worth bearing in order to rid our country of trespassers. But Trump is not saying, “Get out and stay out!”

He is saying: “You must leave … but then you will be welcomed back in.