U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would deport all undocumented immigrants if elected next year and reverse President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
“They have to go,” the billionaire real estate magnate said in an interview to air Sunday on NBC News’s “Meet the Press.” Trump said he wouldn’t split up families and instead would deport them “together.”
Trump’s campaign on Sunday released a four-page manifesto on immigration reform anchored by three principles, including construction of a wall along the southern U.S. border -- an idea that the candidate has spoken of repeatedly, and which the Mexican government has criticized.
“We have to make a whole new set of standards,” the front-runner in Republican polls said on NBC. “We either have a country or we don’t have a country.”
In a wide-ranging 40-minute conversation, Trump also predicted the Iran nuclear deal could lead to “a nuclear holocaust,” and said he would “knock the hell out of the oil” held by Islamic State forces.
Trump has made fighting illegal immigration a cornerstone of his run for the White House. Announcing his candidacy in June, he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and said they bring drugs and crime to the U.S., earning rebukes from fellow Republicans and companies including Macy’s Inc. and Comcast Corp.’s NBC Universal unit.
Those off-the-cuff remarks were enshrined in Trump’s official plan, which said that Mexico’s leaders were “using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own county.”
Trump proposed impounding all remittance payments to Mexico derived from illegal wages, and increase fees on all border-crossing cards, among other things.
To help stem the flow of immigrants, Trump would triple the number of agents employed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security. He also wants ICE officers to work with local police departments targeting violent street gangs.
Trump’s plan would abolish the “birthright citizenship,” given to all of those born in the U.S., including the children of undocumented immigrants. “This remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration,” the plan said, without specifying how the goal would be achieved.
The proposal also contained measures to cut off federal funds for cities which refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement on immigration matters, and to increase penalties for people overstaying temporary visas.
“Trump has reignited the GOP’s longstanding obsession with mass deportation,” Pablo Manriquez, the Democratic National Committee’s director of Hispanic media, said in a statement, referring to the Republican party. “The GOP should quit treating these families as second-class citizens.”
There are about 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., slightly more than half of them from Mexico, and they account for 5.1 percent of the U.S. labor force, according to the Pew Research Center.
Obama in November announced a unilateral change to U.S. immigration policy designed to shelter millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide them with three-year work permits.
To qualify for the program, immigrants must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and be the parents of an American citizen or have been brought here as children themselves. They must also pass a criminal background check.
Addressing U.S. workforce issues, Trump’s plan would increase the wages for jobs covered by certain work visas. “Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool” of workers, the plan said.
Turning to foreign policy in the NBC interview, Trump described the Iran nuclear deal, which trades curbs on the country’s nuclear program for an easing of economic sanctions, in apocalyptic terms.
“They are going to have nuclear weapons,” he said. “They are going to take over parts of the world that you wouldn’t believe. And I think it’s going to lead to nuclear holocaust.”
Trump said the U.S. should have told Iran that it will never regain funds held by overseas banks under sanctions, saying the U.S. position should have been, “We will never give you back your money.”
To defeat Islamic State, which has declared a self-styled caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, Trump called for an attack on the oil fields held by the radical Sunni group and that fund much of its warfare.
When told such a plan would require ground troops, Trump said, “That’s OK,” without explaining how many troops would be required, who would provide the forces, or how long the operation would take.