As I've long argued, immigration policy is about much more than what to do with illegal immigrants, just as tax reform is about much more than what to do with people who owe back taxes. It's also about much more than building THE WALL or whether or not we should have a so-called DEPORTATION FORCE. The Trump campaign has a tendency to grope toward hot-button issues (and the status of illegal immigrants is certainly one of those), but its interests would be better served by focusing on other oft-ignored--but very important--policy issues, including:
- The size and structure of our legal immigration system (by the way, the current legal immigration system makes the legalization of illegal immigrants much harder)
- The size and structure of guest-worker programs
- How to improve various mechanisms of interior enforcement, such as E-Verify
- Efforts to encourage upward mobility and integration for recent immigrants
On many of these issues, the agenda of the far Left (and Hillary Clinton) is radically out of step with the American people, so the Trump campaign would benefit from framing the discussion about immigration on these terms.
The editors of National Review and others have suggested that Trump would be far better off arguing that the question of the status of long-term illegal immigrants would be better addressed once a reformed enforcement regime is up and running.
Of course, in order to make that alternative argument, the Trump campaign (including the candidate himself) will have to be willing to discuss policy details in depth. The shiny bright-red button of media polarization will have to give way to sober deliberation, which might be less explosive but is also often more politically beneficial.