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Donald Trump's 4 Brain Farts on Trade and Immigration

The dangerous nonsense he's peddling will pollute the GOP for years

The lower Donald Trump sinks, the higher his poll numbers soar. Or so he seems to believe. Hence, he’s taken to Donald Trump 1Todd Kraininemitting broadsides in the same way as ruminants emit farts: Constantly, unabashedly and without any regard for those around them.

Though his special stink bombs in recent days have been on the need for shutting down mosques and registering Muslims (a suggestion he’s now desperately trying to walk back), he’s fouled the air plenty on immigration and trade issues. And if the GOP wants to prevent Trump from totally poisoning the conversation before the general elections on these issues, it needs to fumigate four of them with facts pronto:

1. Restoring Operation Wetback

The central plank of Trump's campaign is his pledge to mass-evict 11 million undocumented immigrants. How will he accomplish this feat? Basically, he said at the last debate, by reviving Dwight Eisenhower's notorious 1950s Operation Wetback, under which 1.5 million illegal immigrants were deported.

This program represents one of the most notorious abuses of police power in 20th century America. It involved a massive and virtually unprecedented mobilization of the police state with some 800 federal agents—equipped with arms, trucks, and planes—hunting down illegal immigrants and herding them, like cattle, in ships and trains in 125 degree heat. About 100 people died from heat stroke in one such human dump alone.

There is a lot of evidence suggesting that what eventually diminished the illegal population in America wasn't this inhumane crackdown, but the deregulation of bracero, or the guest worker program that allowed American farmers to rehire the deported Mexicans after a brief touch-back to Mexico—a totally redundant formality.

Trump has said nothing about creating such a program. This means not only that he'll have to scale up Operation Wetback 10 times because the illegal population is 10 times bigger now, but also get much, much more draconian—his assurances that he'll be very "humane" because he's a "very nice person" notwithstanding.

Under Operation Wetback, the deportees were men with no deep roots in the community. Undocumented workers today have lived, on average, a decade in the U.S., and have families. Evicting them would unleash misery and terror on American soil at a scale unseen since the Civil War. About 9 million people live in mixed-status families. Indeed, about 7 percent of K-12 students have one illegal parent. All of them would face the constant fear that every knock on the door is a SWAT team arriving to offer them this Sophie's Choice: They either hand over their undocumented members or they all leave together.

2. Ending birthright citizenship to avoid anchor babies

Countless times, Trump has declared that America needs to scrap its birthright citizenship to avoid being a magnet for Latino anchor babies. "A woman gets pregnant. She's nine months, she walks across the border, she has the baby in the United States, and we take care of the baby for 85 years?" he says. "I don't think so."

But to quote the immortal words of author Mary McCarthy, "Every word [in that statement] is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'"

For starters, scrapping birthright citizenship would require a constitutional amendment, not simply a new law as Trump repeatedly insists. And the notion that Mexican women in advanced stages of pregnancy furtively waddle across the border in droves to have just-in-time deliveries isn't backed up by evidence. The Pew Research Center found that as of 2013, the median duration of residence for illegal immigrants living in the U.S. was 13 years; a full 88 percent had been living in the country for five years or more. More to the point, they overwhelmingly trend male—suggesting that undocumented women have babies because they have built lives in America, not because they come here to have babies.

What's more, we don't "take care of the baby for 85 years"—and not just because the baby doesn't remain a baby for 85 years and average Latino longevity in America is only 80 years. Poor Latinos, especially undocumented ones, don't stay at home drinking tequila and collecting welfare checks. They work incredibly hard.

The unemployment rate among Latinos is three points lower than among blacks, and is even lower among undocumented Latinos. And low-skilled foreigners, including adults and their U.S.- born children, were generally less likely than Americans to receive means-tested public benefits from Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Supplemental Security Income, according to a Cato Institute study. In short, America might be milking Latinos, not the other way around.

3. Forcing Mexico to pay for the Great Wall of Trump

Trump's plan for "Making America Great Again" involves building the Great Wall of Trump on the U.S.-Mexico border. This would require the government to perpetrate a massive land grab on a scale never seen, since much of the border land is privately owned. That shouldn't be a problem for President Trump because he thinks that eminent domain (the government's power to confiscate private property) "happens to be good." In fact, much of his empire is built on its abuse. But what will be a problem is Trump's insistence that he'll force Mexico to pick up the tab for the wall.

How would he do this? Apparently by applying the country's $50 billion-plus trade imbalance with the United States toward the wall. This makes no sense unless Trump hilariously thinks that the imbalance means that Mexico has overcharged us for the goods we bought from it. But that is emphatically not what a trade imbalance is. It just means that we have bought more goods from Mexico than we sold to them. (There is nothing sinister about it. We all have a 100 percent trade imbalance with the local grocery store because we only buy goods from it.) There is no unclaimed $50 billion surplus lying around in Mexico. The U.S. already received corresponding goods. "To demand that Mexico bear the cost of building the wall is to demand something for nothing," notes George Mason University's Larry White. This would be extortion. Call it mafia trade policy.

If Mexico doesn't pay, Trump says he'll withhold the remittances of Mexican workers. But these remittances represent wages earned for services rendered. Confiscating them would also be theft. In other words, Trump's plan to Make America Great Again involves stealing the property of Americans and the wages of Mexicans—turning America into a Third World-style kleptocracy.

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  • Jima||

    "Donald Trump's 4 Brain Farts on Trade and Immigration" That was so easy I thought what's next, 4 ugly outfits Hillary wore this year? It's like candy from a baby I tell ya.

  • EndTheGOP||

    As if Trump could possibly do any more damage to the GOP than the evangelicals have done the past 50 years with their Wars on Women, Gays and Drugs.

    Reason just loves to trash Trump but who do they put on the cover of their magazine? It's all about the money, right?

    Then you better vote for Trump if that's the case because none of these other clowns have a clue..

  • Hank Phillips||

    R.U. kidding? The God's Own Prohibitionist party makes Trump look like a cultured intellectual. He is the Ross Perot that will lead them out of the desert of losing to yellow dogs and Kenyans because they themselves lack the courage to come out for repeal of prohibition unless shoved. This is 1932 all over again!

  • Inigo Montoya, Micro-Aggressor||

    While I have a strong aversion to evangelicals in politics and I'm with you on the idiocy of the War on Drugs, I submit there is no such thing as a War on Women. It existed as a democratic talking point only. The premise that anyone not wanting taxpayers to cover birth control means they are against birth control or against women is patently ridiculous and insulting. I am happy to pay for my own turkey dinner, but I definitely don't want to be forced to pay for yours or other people's. Does that mean I am waging a War on Thanksgiving?

    As for Trump, his ideas are dumb and he is extremely polarizing in a way that is probably even worse than Hillary. Say what you want, but not all evangelical candidates are quite THAT off-putting. No question in my mind that Trump is worse.

  • EndTheGOP||

    Inigo -- No War on Women, eh? Have you got any explanation on why the GOP hasn't won the female vote in a presidential election since 1988?

    And it doesn't matter if there IS an actual War on Women or not. It's the PERCEPTION on the left that there is a war. And clearly the majority of women BELIEVE there is a war. And that's why the GOP will never win another presidential election in our lifetime.

    Obviously you are wrong about Trump being "off-putting." NO ONE on the republican side is as popular as Trump.

    Please inform the readers who YOU think is the best candidate and then sit back and watch me destroy him or her right in front of your very eyes!

  • James Solbakken||

    Can you explain why the DemonicRat party has not won the male vote since LBJ?

    You give your phony game away when you refer to "perception" as if it was as valid as "reality."

  • EndTheGOP||

    James -- You say, "Can you explain why the DemonicRat party has not won the male vote since LBJ?"

    It's YOUR statement, you explain it. Are you trying to tell us the democrats are waging a War on Men?

    You continue your dribble with:

    "You give your phony game away when you refer to "perception" as if it was as valid as "reality."

    What "phony game" are you talking about?

  • Suicidy||

    There won't be shit for anti-Hillary articles. It's all 'hate Trump' all the time at Reason now. And this article is a shitty one. Shikha Kalmia comes off as an idiot.

  • Brian||

    That's because Hillary's practically locked in. She isn't saying or doing anything new and bold. She's way ahead, and unless Bernie pulls some upset, Hillary's just going to cost to primary victory, letting all news be old news. All she has to do is avoid any new news.

    The only way you could possibly avoid a Trump vs. Hillary 2016 at this point would be to lose Trump. And Trump says something stupid every week just to give people a chance to try to tear him down. Yet, there he stands, week after week.

  • Craig Smith||

    Or he's just trying to stay on everyone's lips every week. Working for him so far, no?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Never fear. Hillary will suddenly realize that marijuana prohibition is wrong just as soon as London bookies offer better odds on Trump Perot than on Marco El Rojo de Sangre. Trump is only there to rescue the GOP from the clutches of the Prohibition Party by shoving it out the breach opened by the 21st Amendment.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    Shikha concern is touching.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    At least it's not a rant about marriage contracts being impractical.

  • Nick W B||

    If the election ends up being between Trump and Hillary, I say we should all cast write in votes for Maya Sole to show how much contempt we have for the whole thing.
    Also it would be kinda funny of we could get a talking head to say something like "Maya Sole appears to be attracting surprisingly high numbers of 18 to 35 year old white men".

  • Jima||

    I'm writing in Elmer Fudd...

  • SIV||

    Sportsmen For Fudd

    Who needs a machine gun to go wabbit hunting?

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    The fiction of there even being a trade balance really frosts my twerky. What do these idiots think, that the Japanese, Chinese, Mexicans, or whoever just hang on to greenbacks for fun? Keerist in a slop bucket, they have to use them to buy things, and eventually those dollars have to end up back in the US, meaning they buy US products or service.

    Near as I can tell, they create these fictional trade imbalances by excluding certain things from the equation, intentionally to make it look awful. It's really just another government fiction.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Trump is proof that the average GOP voter is as dumb as a pile of vomit.

    (Sanders voters are idiots too - you TEAM RED! morons here)

  • XM||

    Trump has a lot of bad ideas, but he's not in office yet.

    Obama was for 8 years. The world is probably wishing that he didn't bomb the crap out of some places, which helped create the refugee crisis.

  • Nick W B||

    The average GOP voter is voting for someone else. The highest I've seen him poll is in the low 30's, usually its closer to 25%. That means most voters are against him (and are willing to support anyone, even Ben Carson, if they aren't Trump).
    Don't be like the rest of the media and confuse majorities with pluralities.

  • Hank Phillips||

    English and Irish bookies are still betting Trump Perot bows out like Ross did. In their odds, Trump is trailing "her" and the Pope's antiabortion prohibitionist candidate who wants politicians to keep shooting, jailing and raping potheads. I hope Rubio gets the nomination and the LP at least comes in second with 40% of the vote. There is a book out on breaking bad habits such as pulling the lever for looters. With any luck it'll make a difference.

  • Suicidy||

    Yeah, Democrats are so fucking smart:

    2000 Gore
    2004 Kerry
    2008 Obama
    2012 Obama
    2016 HRod (Assuming no indictment)

    What a great bunch of geniuses. And that a septuagenarian avowed communist failure like Bernie Sanders is even a contender speaks volumes for how far that party has sunk.

    So basically, fuck you moron.

  • MarkLastname||

    "Sanders voters are idiots too"
    Um, is that not a self-evident truth?

    I'm wondering when you're going to realize that basically ever post you make amounts to saying "half of all retards are retarded!"

  • Othon||

    Complementing on the trade inbalance issue.
    A trade inbalance means two things, that on a net basis, the US has imported more than exported to mexico, and that by definition, on a net basis mexico has a capital investment in the US.
    In order for the US to buy a Mexican product, first it needs to exchange dollars for pesos (and use the pesos tu buy the goods). But what happened to those dollars?
    Necessarily the dollars must be go back to the US as a capital investment on a net basis (since obviously were not used to purchase American goods).
    Like mentioned earlier comments, the other side of the equation was intentionally removed. equation comes from "equal". he deliberately wants to make this look like a "un-equal" equation.

  • Fairbanks||

    It wasn't intentional. He and his "advisors" are clueless about trade. As are many Republicans and most Democrats.

  • SOFL Hockey Fan||

    "They took our jobs!"

  • Homple||

    Are Petroleum Dollars a thing any more?

  • Inigo Montoya, Micro-Aggressor||

    I think Trump has more than four brain farts before lunch every day. That said, with the exception of The Wall, most of his views on trade and on immigrants taking our jerbz are shared by Bernie, but that's almost never mentioned.

    But, in an effort to be helpful even to a candidate I don't like, it occurred to me that there is one actual historical precedent for Trump's wall-financing plans. All he needs to do is have hordes of marauders repeatedly attack Mexico over and over again. Mexico will then build the wall and pay for its construction. The Great Wall of China is proof that this approach will work.

  • Suicidy||

    All Trump needs to do is strong arm Mexico economically. Or just take it out of their foreign aid.

  • MarkLastname||

    I was actually thinking we should start deporting all our unemployed and convicted felons to Mexico, then maybe they'll build a wall.

  • Suicidy||

    Just grant all Americans who go to Mexico diplomatic immunity. See how they like it.

  • MarkLastname||

    Actually not a bad idea. And only agree to share information on their criminal records with Mexico on the condition that they give us our share of the taxes on immigrants' to finance their usage of public services. Sounds like a win-win: Mexicans get to come and stay here, we don't have to pay (as much, at least) for their use of state services; only the Mexican government loses, and fuck them.

  • GregMax||

    I think Reason online is morphing into a liberal rag. Too bad.

  • Nick W B||

    Uh, its always been a (classical) liberal magazine.

  • Suicidy||

    Don't think that's what he means. And there is increasingly more prog bullshit here.

  • GregMax||

    Yeah. I am liberal in the "libertarian" sense, and reasonably liberal in the social sense. But, I believe that Democrat liberals or progressives have a rhetorical (?) style that is heavy in denigration, dismissal and declaration as part of what they consider discourse.
    My comment is a gripe with the trend of Reason online to drift considerably into that style of discourse. This shitty article is a great example. I feel any better informed or enlightened by it.
    But it's worth the price I pay.

  • GregMax||

    I don't feel better informed by it.

  • Suicidy||

    Because it isn't informative. It's just a 'Trump Sucks' article. Nick should be embarrassed to publish it on this site.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Nick should be embarrassed to publish it on this site.

    Please. Nick probably told her to write it. Do you think he disagrees with a word of it? You couldn't tell from any of his other articles.

  • MarkLastname||

    A fair assessment I guess. It is true that it is nearly impossible to find an article on Salon, Slate, or the New Yorker that is actually informative; just self-righteous hand-wringing and pretentious condescension sans the least bit of substance. Of course the National Review is the same (with the exception of de Rugy, she is one of their best writers, who also incidentally writes here). Some of Reason writers to seem to subscribe to the same school of "writing", though strictly peaking I think it's actually a form of masturbation.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Finally, someone who passed English! You sir are a gentleman and a scholar. My powdered wig is off to you.

  • Hank Phillips||

    So Trump, like the rest of the GOP, needs to read the 14th Amendment, lips moving, got it.
    Has Trump been saying anything about weed? marijuana? pot? lids? kilos? that might be relevant to the 21st amendment? He says he favors the medical marijuana Hillary thinks is OK banned as it is. So... does that make medical marijuana anti-libertarian alluva sudden? Are the rest of the subsidized party politicians jumping on a repeal bandwagon?

  • Suicidy||

    Trump isn't great. But he isn't the monster Reason makes him out to be with multiple hit pieces per day. Nor is he some kind of raving idiot.

  • keith2366||

    So Trump isn't acting like a raving idiot? It's the lame stream media just selectively editing all his media events?

  • MarkLastname||

    Trump is definitely a raving idiot, but he's just a raving idiot. He's a circus clown, not a Hitler of Mussolini.

    What bothers me is this: I very much accept that most GOP voters are morons and Trump is just a reaffirmation of this (though this wasn't a surprise); what bothers me is that so many supposedly sane people actually think Bernie Sanders' supporters are actually smart. Demagogic populism is still demagogic populism when you have a D after your name, right?

    Sanders is likely smarter than Trump in that he at least doesn't talk as much, and therefore says less stupid stuff; but his supporters are certainly no smarter than Trump's/

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Can you explain how Trump is different from Mussolini?

  • MarkLastname||

    Mussolini was smarter and better organized,

  • Hank Phillips||

    Dang! Now that you mention it, there are some striking resemblances, and that would account for the two most Italian-sounding fascisti leading the polls among the superstitious, frightened prohibicionistas.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Fewer medals? Receding jawline?

  • James Solbakken||

    How do suppose you are not also one of the morons? You seem to think the Libertarian Party has been winning a lot of elections since 1972? I know for a fact that they have not because I have been voting for them and know that they always lose. And I'm beginning to figure out why: Because Libertarians are sofa king stupid they actually think that conservative Republicans are as wackos stupid and idiotic as liberal DemonicRats.

    I have always voted for the LP because I thought it was smarter, but, I never realized that other LP voters thought Republicans were equally as stupid as the communist Democrats. It makes me think I've been very very very stupid for the last 42 years.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Those aren't brain farts, they're steaming turds.

    -jcr

  • MarkLastname||

    Is it cerebral diarrhea he has, or cerebral constipation?

  • adampeart||

    It's both. Constipation of the brain, diarrhea of the mouth.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Maybe when Hillary flips against prohibition we'll stop hearing about her and Trump both. When will the LP choose a candidate? Who are the contenders for the 3rd-largest party nomination? Pray it's not another damn republican hand-me-down to sully our reputation in the eyes of the voters.

  • pronomian||

    How about when the LP chooses a viable candidate? Instead of a libertarian that feels the need to run to the establishment to be accepted, even though that establishment hates libertarians. If trump was running as an independent he'd still probably be ahead in the polls, but so would bush for the rupugs.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The LP has a viable PLATFORM. Any yellow dog candidate will do as long as he or she isn't some republican impostor all tarted up to ignore our platform. An idiot votes for a candidate. That's how the rest of the world got the way it is. Banana republics and people's states decide elections based on width of grin or switching of ballot boxes.

  • James Solbakken||

    The world got the way it is because of morons like you, Hank Phillips, crypto-Marxist phony balony plastic banana.

  • Arthur45||

    By last count , braindead Dalmia has written 534 consecutive anti-Trump articles, apparently fooling no one.
    Keep at it you lying moron, maybe someone will agree with your sorry, lying ass.

  • Hank Phillips||

    So the GOP wasn't polluted. Then Trump weighed in favoring medical marijuana, liking libertarians and agreeing to let the 21st Amendment approach favor weed the way it did beer. Now the GOP is polluted?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Trump sought the GOP nomination June 1, and Reason and Doonesbury both ramped up a campaign of innuendo and horror. Result: his population with the GOP base (fanatical antichoice prohibitionist bigots) went through the roof. Suddenly he 1. said he likes libertarians 2. came out for legal medical hemp and 3. now favors the 21st Amendment approach to weed (which was better'n Volsteadism for beer). "Trump wanes" the headlines shout, and bookies offer over twice the odds he loses to the christianofascist who wants men with guns to keep killing youths over victimless crime laws, put a stop to female individual rights, and murder and deport foreigners. This is still 7 candidates closer to a win than Rand Paul, who wanted to stop killing victimless youths and foreigners.
    This shows the GOP still copies its policies from the Prohibition Party platform as it did in 1932, and doesn't care a whit for any principles other than superstition as justification for initiation of deadly force, same as ISIS.

  • James Solbakken||

    Which female individual rights would you be referring to, Mr Crypto-Marxist? The right to murder innocent babies? Why do you want to deprive vulnerable human beings of their right not to be murdered? Why do you promote a right for women that men do not have? Why so sexist, Mr not-so-crypto-anymore-Marxist?

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Every word [in that statement] is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'"

    For starters, scrapping birthright citizenship would require a constitutional amendment, not simply a new law as Trump repeatedly insists.
    ###

    Since there are reasonable constitutional arguments in Trump's favor, even if you don't agree with them, characterizing his claim as a lie (a knowing falsehood) is yet another media Big Lie Against Trump.

    Of course, Shikha When the Walls Fell always rants nonsense when proselytizing for Open Borders, so it's probably unfair to characterize this as a Big Lie Against Trump - it's just another Big Lie for Open Borders.

    Carry on, then.

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