Over the weekend, Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to unveil an actual immigration plan. It wasn’t quite what reform proponents were hoping for – Trump’s vision includes mass deportations for roughly 11 million people, a Mexican-built wall, ignoring provisions of the 14th Amendment, and quite possibly deporting U.S. citizens.
If there’s a race to the bottom underway among Republicans battling for anti-immigrant voters, it was a fairly bold move. As Bloomberg Politics reported yesterday, it left one of Trump’s top rivals scrambling to tell conservatives how similar his plan is to the leading GOP candidate.
Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker said Monday his immigration plan is “very similar” to the policy blueprint released Sunday by Donald Trump which amounts to a comprehensive attack on legal and illegal immigration.“I haven’t looked at all the details of his but the things I’ve heard are very similar to the things I’ve mentioned,” the Wisconsin governor said on Fox & Friends.
Yes, we’ve reached the curious stage of the 2016 cycle at which prominent Republicans boast about how in sync they are with Donald Trump. Last week, it was Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Yesterday, it was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).
As viewers of last night’s show know, the degree to which Trump is actually influencing the direction of Republican politics is increasingly difficult to ignore. Sure, that’s to be expected by a White House candidate who’s dominating the race, but given Trump’s clownish reputation, it’s nevertheless striking to see the dynamic unfold before our eyes.
As for the far-right governor, as the day progressed, Walker’s approach to immigration came into sharper focus. He still doesn’t have a detailed plan, per se, but he’s offering more than just “I’m like Trump” on this key issue.
For example, Walker is now the latest national Republican candidate to oppose birthright citizenship – more on this point later today – and he’s on board with mass deportations. So how is this different from Trump? BuzzFeed noted that the Wisconsin governor is eyeing a very different model as a source for inspiration.
Walker repeated his call for a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico on Monday similar to the one separating Israel from Palestinian territories in the West Bank. […]“I was in Israel earlier this year, they built a 500-mile fence and they have it stacked and it’s lowered terrorist attacks in that region by about 90-plus percent. We need to do the same along our border, we’ve obviously got a bigger border, about four times that, but we’re a country that should be able to hold that,” Walker said while speaking on the Des Moines Register soapbox at the Iowa State Fair.
Let’s not brush past Walker’s point of comparison too quickly. Who looks at the barriers separating Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and thinks, “You know, the United States needs more of this”?
As for the broader debate, 2012 exit polls suggest Mitt “Self-Deportation” Romney won about 27% of the Latino vote in the last presidential election. Driven by a rabid GOP base, the current crop of Republican candidates seems determined to fare considerably worse in 2016.