Donald Trump would deport all illegal aliens, then let most come right back

At the February 25, 2016 debate, Donald Trump clarified that he supports what's called "touchback". Under touchback, illegal aliens leave the U.S. and then are allowed to come right back, legally. It's like waving a magic wand: someone could be here illegally one day, and then some period later they'd be transformed into a legal resident. Touchback was a key part of the Flake-Gutierrez amnesty of 2009; read more about that on the Luis Gutierrez and Jeff Flake pages.

The key differences between Donald Trump's plan and the Flake-Gutierrez amnesty is that under Trump's plan illegal aliens would be forcibly removed using some sort of "Deportation Force", while under Flake-Gutierrez illegal aliens were expected to leave on their own. And, Trump says the process for those who were here illegally to come back wouldn't be "very quick". Another possible difference is that Trump might let fewer come back than the Flake-Gutierrez amnesty would have.

However, there are problems with all three of those differences, as will be discussed below. First, here's the relevant part of the debate:

TRUMP: We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out. They will come back -- some will come back, the best, through a process. They have to come back legally. They have to come back through a process, and it may not be a very quick process, but I think that's very fair, and very fine. They're going to get in line with other people. The best of them will come back, but they're going to come back through a process.

The problem with forcibly deporting all illegal aliens is that it's politically impossible. Donald Trump would have to declare himself Caesar and disband Congress and the courts in order to make it happen, and Trump isn't going to be able to do that. He can't do it with Executive Orders alone because Congress and the courts would stop him. See the last link for a detailed explanation.

Even if Trump was able to deport many illegal aliens, he'd face the same types of pressure as discussed at the last link to let as many of them come back as quickly as possible. What Trump calls "the best" would expand to become "anyone who can't be determined through slipshod background checks to be a criminal". All the same arguments would be trotted out to expedite the process, from the DREAM Act to the crooked town story to PIIPP to crops rotting in the fields. Because Trump and his fans are approaching this issue in a completely lunkhead fashion devoid of any intellectual backing, they'd be powerless in the face of those talking points. Not to mention all the business interests pressuring the politicians they "own" to expedite the process for as many people as possible.

Trump's plan is the worst of all worlds: a mass deportations plan combined with a mass legalization plan. He wouldn't solve the problems associated with the quest for ever cheaper labor; even if the Trump Wall was built it would have wide doors that would let Big Business drive down wages even more.

The smart, pro-American alternative is attrition: ramping up immigration enforcement and ramping down benefits to illegal aliens in order to encourage many or most to return home voluntarily. That would reduce the labor supply at the low end of the market and force Big Business to pay higher wages. It would also force growers to automate, something that's been deliberately held back for various reasons. One danger of that is that other businesses might automate the jobs that illegal aliens were taking, but those jobs weren't going to American citizens anyway. Other methods can be used to make businesses employ Americans.

The way to get attrition is to realize that mass/illegal immigration is a "mind war". It can't be solved through lunkhead plans and lunkhead walls. It has to be solved by discrediting those behind it and their intermediaries. Nothing that Trump or his fans has ever said or done has indicated that they're capable of understanding that, much less helping achieve it.