Trump proposes ways to make Mexico pay for immigrants

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a news conference near the U.S.-Mexico border outside of Laredo, Texas July 23, 2015.

REUTERS/Rick Wilking

After months of bombastic broadsides railing against illegal immigration, now comes a new phase of the Donald Trump candidacy for president: specifics.

On Sunday, the Trump campaign released its first official position paper, a three-pronged plan to combat illegal immigration and reform the legal immigration system should he make it to the White House.

Trump reiterates his intention to build a wall across the southern border and to have Mexico pay for that wall - a consistent refrain in interviews and stump speeches.

"For many years, Mexico's leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country (as well is in other Latin American countries)," the paper reads. "In short, the Mexican government has taken the United States to the cleaners. They are responsible for this problem, and they must help pay to clean it up."

If Mexico doesn't agree to pay for the wall, Trump suggests increasing a number of fees, including those on temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats, border crossing cards and NAFTA worker visas from Mexico. He also proposes increases fees at ports of entry at the Mexican - United States border.

Last week, a spokesman for Mexican president Pena Nieto, laughed off suggestions that Mexico would pay in an interview with Bloomberg.

"Of course it's false," the spokesman said. "It reflects an enormous ignorance for what Mexico represents, and also the irresponsibility of the candidate who's saying it."

While he has been more forceful about tariffs in his speeches - suggesting that Ford should pay a 35 percent tax on parts and vehicles imported from Mexico if it continues investing there - Trump is more muted in the paper, only saying, "tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options."

In addition to the border wall, Trump proposes tripling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, ending birthright citizenship, implementing a nationwide e-verify system and defunding of so-called "sanctuary cities" where local officials do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts. He also says visa overstays should be criminally penalized - suggesting that they are a "threat to national security."

Illegal immigration became a pillar of his campaign right after the announcement of his candidacy in June.

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," Trump said. "They're sending people that have lots of problems...they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

The comments drew outrage from many corners, causing a number of companies to cut ties with him, including Macy's and NBC.

Trump's plans to reform the legal immigration system are aimed at boosting American workers in the face of foreign competition. He proposes, for example, lowering the amount of legal immigrants let in to the country every year.

"The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans - including immigrants themselves and their children - to earn a middle class wage," the paper says.

He also promises to increase the prevailing wage for H-1B visas, the non-immigrant visas for specialized workers in specialized fields like math and science.

"Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant, instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas," the paper says.

The prevailing wage is the average wage paid to workers in a similar field and federal law requires that the hiring of a foreign worker will not negatively affect the wages of American workers in the same occupation.

Trump goes on to ding Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, one of his GOP rivals for the presidential nomination.

"Mark Zuckerberg's personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities," the paper says. He also identifies the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013 as the "Schumer-Rubio" bill though Rubio and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, were just two of the bill's eight authors.

Trump rounds out his immigration proposal promising that he would require companies to hire American workers first. He also says he wants to raise the standards for asylum seekers and halt green cards from being issued to foreign workers until employers hire more domestic workers. Immigrants would also not be eligible for government assistance in housing and healthcare.