How Would Utahns Be Affected By Donald Trump's Immigration Plan?

Sep 22, 2016


This report is part of NPR and UPR’s A Nation Engagement project focusing on the upcoming elections as it relates to economics.


Rob Pyne is now a legal resident of the U.S. But, for him and his wife Tammy Pyne, the job of obtaining legal status was a frustrating one to say the least.

“Unfortunately it’s proved to be anything but a fast process and certainly not a cheap one," Rob Pyne said.

The Pynes spent years completing paperwork, flying back and forth between the U.S. and New Zealand and working with their immigration lawyer. So after all this frustrating effort, the Pynes feel that Donald Trump’s immigration plan is, well, fair.


This is what Trump said in his August speech in Phoenix, Arizona.

“For those here illegally today who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and one route only; to return home and apply for reentry like everybody else," Trump said.

The Pynes have gone through it, so they wonder, why shouldn’t everybody else?  

“I think it’s more than a viable option. I actually support Donald Trump hands down on this one. I think that he has the right mix," Rob Pyne said. "These people should be—I don’t know about sent home—but they should be processed, they should have to pay all the fees I’ve had to pay and whatever else goes with it. And I think that’s how it should be.”

Trump also said in his immigration speech that he would deport criminal aliens. That’s a shift from his earlier claims of deporting everyone who was here illegally.

“I am going to create a new, special deportation task force, focused on identifying and quickly removing the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants in America," Trump said."

According to Peter McNamara, political science professor at Utah State University, even with Trump kind of softening his plan, a lot of people are still unsettled.

“He’s still big on the wall and those kind of measures, but he’s left a question mark over the 11 million," McNamara said. "That leaves many voters, but especially Hispanic voters unsatisfied since it’s a great cloud of uncertainty over many people who’ve been living in the United States for a long time.”

According to Pew Research Center estimates, Utah has 100,000 undocumented immigrants. McNamara said if Donald Trump deports those people, there would be huge economic impacts for the state.

“Immigrants, legal and otherwise contribute a lot to the economy. And with respect to illegal immigrants, it’s undeniable that they make a major contribution to certain areas of the economy," McNamara said. "And any major disruption to that would have significant economic effects. Which makes the whole scenario of deporting 11 million people not a very plausible scenario. And I think Trump has more or less acknowledged that in his own backhanded kind of way.”

Peter Corroon, chair of the Utah Democratic Party said he understands how Utahns are scared of what could happen in a Trump Presidency.

“The fact that Donald Trump is wreaking havoc in the immigrant community is upsetting not only to those who feel like they have no choice but to rush through this process, but for elected officials like me who want to be sure that Utah families are protected and not torn apart," Corroon said.

Although he thinks Hillary Clinton presents a better plan than Trump, Corroon isn’t holding out a lot of hope. He said he understands how people become frustrated.

“The system is broken. The fact that that man from New Zealand had to go through that kind of process just demonstrates that the system doesn’t work," Corroon said. "People are going around the immigration system because it doesn’t work. If we had a system that worked than it would make a lot more sense and I think we’d see a lot less people trying to go around the system.”

Although Pyne and Corroon disagree on which presidential candidate will do the job best, they do agree there needs to be changes.

“I just think that, you know, there needs to be some improvement to the laws," Pyne said. "And Mr. Trump wants to make it simpler—I think that’s another thing. Make it simpler because the paperwork is so complex it’s not funny.”

From an economic point of view, there will be changes, but no one is really sure what exactly will happen in the next four years.

“The consequences of the election will be quite significant I think," McNamara said. "Now what they are, I can’t predict because we’ve seen how uncertain and unpredictable political life is in the last year.”