Front-running Trump defends immigration plan – USA TODAY
Donald Trump again made what seems like weekly appearances on Sunday interview shows, this time defending a plan that would remove all immigrants who are in the country illegally.
While critics say the idea is impractical and would cost at least $400-to-$600 billion, Trump said on CBS and ABC that the country is already paying too high a price for illegal immigration.
“It’s costing us $130 billion a year and that’s peanuts compared to what the real cost is,” the front-running Republican presidential candidate said on ABC’s This Week.
The New York businessman has also called for a wall along the nation’s southern border — and to have Mexico pay for it — and said that “really good” immigrants would be expedited back into the country. Trump has also called for ending automatic citizenship for the babies of immigrants who are in the country illegally.
Republican opponent Jeb Bush and other critics say Trump’s plan won’t work and will further alienate Hispanic voters who have trended Democratic in recent elections.
Bush, who is second to Trump in many GOP polls, has also challenged the businessman’s commitment to Republican and conservative ideas, noting that in the past he has backed abortion rights, tax hikes, and restrictions on guns.
“Trump’s positions are deeply out-of-step with the Alabama way of life,” said an email to voters from the Bush campaign before Trump’s rally Friday in a football stadium in Mobile.
In his appearance on CBS’ Face The Nation, Trump said his views have changed over time, and he noted that Ronald Reagan started political life as a Democrat.
“He evolved as he got older,” Trump said. “And I did also.”
Trump’s latest Sunday show appearances came as polls continued to show him with a big lead over Bush and more than a dozen other Republican presidential candidates.
His dominance of the race is forcing other candidates to respond to the Trump phenomenon in one way or another.
Scott Walker, responding to Trump’s criticism of his record as governor of Wisconsin, told ABC that “he’s using the talking points of the Democrats.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Trump’s immigration plan sounds appealing in part, but told CBS that “I just think it’s a very complicated problem. And it needs someone who understands how to do a complicated and nuanced solution to that problem.”
Ending birthright citizenship, Christie noted, would require amending the U.S. Constitution.
Businesswoman Carly Fiorina, appearing on NBC’s Meet The Press, said no voter has asked her about the billionaire.
“The only people who ask me about Donald Trump are the media,” Fiorina said. “I think the media’s kind of obsessed with Donald Trump honestly, and I think Donald Trump is using the media.”
Another outsider candidate — retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson — did not shoot down the idea of joining Trump as his running mate during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.
“I think all things are possible,” Carson said, adding that “it’s much too early” to start talking about 2016 tickets.
Another candidate, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, told Fox News Sunday, that he doesn’t want to answer Trump questions because doing so would only “give him more coverage” than he is already getting.
“I’m talking about my campaigns,” he said. “My issues.”