Clinton vs. Trump: Immigration & the 2016 Presidential Election

April 23, 2016

During this presidential election, many issues have dominated the headlines, but none has had the impact of immigration. Salmon-Haas has compared the immigration agendas of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to show how each views the country and the law.

Donald Trump

Mr. Trump's immigration policy has been characterized as mercurial, punitive and, according to some, too impractical to implement. Trump has built his campaign around the question of immigration from day one, and his plans focus on restricting immigrant travel and bolstering the presence of policing power at the border. Trump continuously asserts that his immigration policy will create jobs. However, they are mostly prosecutorial and open to change as the campaign persists, as is represented in the following examples:

  • The border wall -- Trump asserted he would commission a wall across the southern border and that Mexico would pay for the wall until he visited Mexico and declared that they would pay for the wall secretly.
  • Deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants -- Donald Trump pledged to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants from the country but walked back this proposal, saying that he would focus on more deportations and more border security.
  • Deportation force -- The candidate asserted that he would create a new force to execute a mass deportation, but later said he would increase funding to the immigration agency, ICE, so that they could target criminal undocumented immigrants.
  • A temporary ban on Muslim immigrants -- Donald Trump called for stopping all Muslim immigration to the United States, but when pressed by the media, he walked back his proposal, instead, calling for "extreme vetting," including ideological certification and new screening tests for those originating from countries with issues of terrorism.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton's immigration policy is largely a continuation of Obama's, focusing on comprehensive immigration reform. This agenda is spurred on by her promise to act when Congress won't, as President Obama did with his executive actions. However, she also vows to go further in certain areas making an effort to keep immigrant families together. The finer points of Hillary Clinton's immigration plan are:

  • Defending President Obama's executive actions -- Working against attempts by Republicans in Congress to undermine the efforts of her predecessor.
  • Promoting naturalization -- Creating legislation that considers the merits of each undocumented immigrant and the contributions of U.S.-born children of those immigrants.
  • Expanding access to affordable health care to all families --Working on reducing the burden placed on emergency rooms by providing healthcare to undocumented immigrants at reduced rates.
  • Ending family detention and close private immigration detention centers -- Keeping families together and ending an industry that financially incentivizes incarceration.

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