It was just a couple of weeks ago when Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump first raised the prospect of mass deportations for millions of immigrants already in the United States. The GOP candidate quickly joined what the Washington Post's Greg Sargent calls the "Cattle Car Caucus."
At the time, Trump made no effort to explain how, exactly, he intends to identify, detain, and deport roughly 11 million people, or how he intends to pay for such a massive undertaking. "Politicians aren't going to find them because they have no clue," Trump said. "We will find them, we will get them out."
As MSNBC's Anna Brand noted, Trump is now going into a little more detail on the issue that's helped propel him to the front of the Republican pack.
Donald Trump on Sunday released his detailed immigration reform plan, encompassing the sentiment he expressed in an interview on "Meet the Press" that aired just an hour earlier: Undocumented immigrants "have to go."
Watching the interview yesterday, the exchange pointed to an apparent contradiction. "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd asked the GOP candidate, "You're going to split up families. You're going to deport children?"
"No, no," Trump responded. "We're going to keep the families together. We have to keep the families together."
Todd followed up, "But you're going to kick them out?" To which Trump replied, simply, "They have to go."
If this seems like a policy mess, there's a good reason for that. There are many undocumented immigrants, for example, whose children are American citizens, born in the United States. Deporting every immigrant who entered the country illegally, in practical terms, would mean separating parents from their own children.
Except under the Trump plan, the Republican doesn't want to do that. That leads to some alarming possibilities.
First, Trump may intend to deport citizens of the United States from the United States, which would be illegal. Second, Trump may intend to deny citizenship to people born in the United States, which would be unconstitutional. Or third, Trump may hope to do both.
The Republican's campaign website now includes a relatively detailed, 1,900-word outline of the Trump immigration plan, which does in fact call for the end of birthright citizenship, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution be damned. But in context, Trump appears to support deporting Americans, too -- it's the practical result of a policy that plans to keep families together, while also vowing mass deportations of all undocumented immigrants.
For good measure, also note that Trump's plan includes a provision that would build a border wall, which he still expects Mexico to pay for.
As ridiculous as the Trump immigrant plan is -- and it really is masterful in its absurdity -- it's worth noting that Trump is the first leading GOP presidential candidate to post a position paper of sorts online, inviting public scrutiny. I'd welcome the chance to review Jeb Bush's and Scott Walker's immigration plans, too, but for now, they don't exist.