U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel walk along a section of the recently-constructed fence at the U.S.-Mexico border on Feb. 26, 2013 in Nogales, Ariz.
Photo by John Moore/Getty

When is a ‘wall’ not a wall? When it’s in a GOP campaign platform

Earlier this year, Donald Trump was quite candid about how he communicates with his audiences at campaign rallies. “You know, if it gets a little boring, if I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!’ and they go nuts,” the Republican said.
 
There’s some truth to that. As we discussed a couple of months ago, if “Yes We Can” was the optimistic mantra that helped propel Barack Obama’s candidacy in 2008, “Build That Wall” has similarly been embraced by Trump’s supporters as the phrase that captures their motivation.
 
But what exactly is the GOP candidate talking about? Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, told the Buffalo News this week that he chooses not to take the candidate’s rhetoric literally.
“I have called it a virtual wall,” Rep. Chris Collins said in an interview with The Buffalo News.
 
“Maybe we will be building a wall over some aspects of [the border]; I don’t know,” the Clarence Republican said of Trump’s proposed barrier to keep illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing the southern border.
And what about Trump’s vow to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants from U.S. soil? Apparently that’s not literal, either. “I call it a rhetorical deportation of 12 million people,” Collins said in the Buffalo News interview.
 
Pointing to the door of his congressional office, the New York lawmaker added, in reference to the immigrants, “They go out that door, they go in that room, they get their work papers, Social Security number, then they come in that door, and they’ve got legal work status but are not citizens of the United States…. We’re not going to put them on a bus, and we’re not going to drive them across the border.”
 
Is this the new line Republicans use to help themselves feel better about their party’s presumptive presidential nominee?
 
The New York Times published a report yesterday that Collins might find interesting.
Central to Mr. Trump’s campaign, and to his national security strategy, is his intent to clamp down on illegal immigration, using a vast deportation “force” to relocate people to the other side of a wall, funded by Mexico, that would stretch nearly the length of the southern border.
 
Mr. Trump has suggested he will flesh out his ideas in a forthcoming speech. But experts across many fields who have analyzed his plans so far warn that they would come at astronomical costs – whoever paid – and would in many ways defy the logic of science, engineering and law.
Sure, but other than that, it’s fine.
 
TPM had a related report yesterday, noting that many conservative Republican lawmakers have no idea how a Trump administration would track down millions of immigrants, pay for their deportation, oversee such a massive operation, and then build a 2,000-mile wall.
 
 

Donald Trump and Immigration Policy

When is a 'wall' not a wall? When it's in a GOP campaign platform