The ideas once languished at the edge of Republican politics, confined to think tanks and no-hope bills on Capitol Hill. To solve the problem of illegal immigration, truly drastic measures were necessary: Deport the undocumented en masse. Seize the money they try to send home. Deny citizenship to their U.S.-born children.

Now, all of those ideas have been embraced by Donald Trump, the front-runner in the Republican presidential race, who has followed up weeks of doomsaying about illegal immigrants with a call for an unprecedented crackdown…

“What you have to give to Trump is, whatever way he’s done it, he has pushed this front and center,” said Roy Beck of Numbers­USA, which wants to lower overall U.S. immigration, legal and illegal. The elites of the Republican Party, Beck said, “absolutely did not want this discussed in this debate. And instead it’s front and center. It’s strange, but it is the triumph of the working class of the Republican Party.”…

“If we could get 12 million people to leave, why don’t we just do that now? This idea that we’re going to get ’em all to leave, and we’re going to get the good ones back, it’s a fairy tale,” said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which seeks to reduce illegal immigration. “It’s just not the way that government could function. It’s dopey. It’s a gimmick.”

Even though he has made it the cornerstone of his campaign, Donald Trump’s immigration hawkishness has until now consisted of bravado rather than substance. His newly released immigration platform, while bearing characteristic flaws, is a marked improvement: It is sensible in its basic outline and better in many respects than the ideas presented by his rivals.

Trump grounds his policies in “three core principles” — that a nation should control its border, enforce its immigration laws, and put its own workers first — that are not only unobjectionable but should be the starting point of any reasonable immigration policy. How regrettable that until now, none of the candidates have articulated them in any systematic way.

Likewise, several of the enforcement policies that follow should be widely adopted: increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, encouraging greater cooperation between ICE and local gang task forces, implementing e-Verify nationwide, deporting criminal aliens, ending catch-and-release policies, defunding sanctuary cities, and increasing penalties for visa overstays. These are all important elements of any meaningful effort to enforce America’s immigration laws…

[T]he rest of the Republican field would do well to take up Trump’s principles and supplement them with a fuller range of sensible policies. The best of Trump’s enforcement proposals should be the lowest common denominator in the GOP, and to them can be added better proposals for barriers at the border and for illegal aliens in the country — all to be articulated with the seriousness that Trump too often lacks. Immigration is too important to be left to The Donald. 

“I don’t agree with that,” the Florida senator told reporters on at the Iowa State Fair when asked about Trump’s opposition to birthright citizenship. “I’m open to doing things that prevent people who deliberately come to the U.S. for purposes of taking advantage of the 14th Amendment, but I’m not in favor of repealing it.”…

Appearing with Iowa’s senior senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, Rubio declined to directly criticize the billionaire businessman or comment on whether he’s hurting Republicans among Hispanic voters with the detailed plan for ending illegal immigration that Trump issued earlier this week.

“Obviously, there are some ideas that have merit, but the majority of it is really not a workable plan that could ever pass Congress,” he said of the proposal that Trump released Sunday. “It’s a serious issue.”

The explosive costs of mass deportation have often forced Republican presidential and congressional candidates to find another solution. Trump’s position is far outside the mainstream of many other Republicans. There are several estimates out there on what it would cost to round up the roughly 11 million people who are residing in the U.S. without permission. The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, estimated in 2010 (when the illegal population was smaller) that it would take $200 billion to “arrest, detain, legally process and transport the undocumented population over a five year period.” That did not include the $85 billion it tallied for keeping up with enforcement in the subsequent five years.

The biggest price tag of his plan, however, might not actually be possible to calculate. Immigration experts say that even immigrants living in the country illegally still contribute to the economy. A New York Times story from 2013 suggested that immigrants in the country illegally contributed $15 billion annually to Social Security. And the Department of Agriculture has long argued that deporting millions could have major effects on the U.S.’s agricultural economy, as it estimates that half of the country’s farm workers over the last 15 years have been undocumented.

“You can quantify a lot of this. … The part that is harder to quantify is the loss of these productive workers and energetic and innovative entrepreneurs,” says Tamar Jacoby, the president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA, a pro-business immigration group. “A pause in immigration would put a huge dent in the American economy that is virtually impossible to quantify.”

Former Mexican ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan said Trump’s policies would be “an unmitigated disaster” for U.S.-Mexican relations, would violate banking regulations and would ignore a changing panorama in which Chinese and Indian migrants stay illegally in the United States more frequently than Mexicans.

“This would be ‘lose-lose’ for both countries,” Sarukhan said of Trump’s proposed policies…

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigrant group, called Trump’s positions “as dangerous as they are stunning.”

“Donald Trump can bloviate about mass deportation, promise to build a 14th century wall, and pander to the nativist dead-enders within the GOP, but the American people are way ahead of him,” Sharry said in a statement.

“They don’t want a police state with deportation trains, weeping families and a hollowed out economy,” Sharry added.

“We don’t know if we should laugh or if we should cry,” said Guadalupe Loaeza, a prominent Mexican columnist. “We think he’s really a nightmare.”

The longer he floats atop the polls, the more Trump has started to make people here feel a bit queasy, forcing them to contemplate whether his candidacy is really something they need to worry about. As Trump published his immigration proposals this week, Mexicans expressed growing concern about his bid for the Republican nomination.

“What he says makes me laugh, but it’s a nervous laughter,” said Gustavo Vega Canovas, a professor at the international studies center of the prestigious College of Mexico. “His comments sound to me like Germany in the 1930s, when they made Jews responsible for everything that was happening.”

Fuentes, like many Mexicans, doesn’t expect Trump to win the nomination or move into the White House:

“That would push the limits of indecency, and would set back several decades a country that despite all its flaws and defects has maintained its fight against racism and discrimination. I trust that Republicans — and all North Americans — will lance this ugly boil that has suddenly erupted in their national life.”

Ever since he began his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination with a vicious screed against Mexican immigrants, Donald J. Trump has become a figure of dread and comic-book meanness to the Latino community. He’s a villain in a flaccid pompadour, spewing threats and insults that have filtered down into the bosom of many a Latino family, to be heard by children gathered by the television set or at the dinner table…

“We Latinos are becoming more powerful, and he doesn’t like it,” said Irene Huerta, a 24-year-old college student. “While he’s calling us names, more Latinos are going to school and wanting to excel. I know I do.”…

A 10-year-old like Damaris watches The Donald descending an escalator in Trump Tower. Or standing at the border in Texas in a white hat that proclaimed “Make America Great Again.” Even if she doesn’t understand what he’s saying, she can feel her parents, her older brother turning angry and looking worried.

At that moment, The Donald has unwittingly taught the girl the same valuable message that’s at the heart of many scary monster tales: Be on guard, because there are people out there who might harm you.

While the recognition of these problems is welcome — even for those of us who do not follow Mr. Trump further down his anti-immigration path — the rest of Trump’s “plan” is a bitter stew served up by a man pandering to Angry White People with ideas both fanciful and harmful…

Mr. Trump wants to remove all illegal aliens from the United States. This is, of course, impossible and, even if it were possible, an outrageous waste of tens or hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. When asked by Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press if he would split up families in which one or more of the parents is an illegal alien but their children are U.S. citizens, Trump said no, clarifying in one of the most reprehensible statements I have ever heard from an American candidate for public office, “We’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go.” Yes, Trump would try to deport American citizens. Did I mention how ignorant of history Donald Trump sounds to this Jewish columnist?…

And this brings me to the most important aspect of Donald Trump’s so-called “immigration plan.” It is not a policy document as much as a rabble-rousing political screed aimed at riling up the most angry and xenophobic among us, particularly those with the least understanding of economics, and engaging in a divide-and-conquer political strategy that no true conservative should tolerate, especially after seeing what six years of our current president’s us-versus-them mindset has wrought.

Republicans often say things like, “If I wanted to destroy the United States, I would do exactly what Barack Obama is doing.” The longer Mr. Trump remains atop Republican primary polls while spouting rhetoric as angry, ridiculous, and dangerous as his immigration platform, the more Democrats will gleefully think to themselves, “If I wanted to destroy the GOP, I would do exactly what Donald Trump is doing.”

Castellanos said, “let me just say, wow, even Republicans wouldn’t say that Barack Obama has been arrogant enough to rewrite the Constitution that way [to end birthright citizenship]. But, in a general election — look, right now, this hurts the Republican Party. If you think the Republican Party hasn’t alienated enough Hispanics, enough women, enough young voters, why, Donald Trump’s immigration plan is going to be great for you. You’re going to love that. In a general election though, Trump is not going to be the nominee. When he leaves, he’ll be defeated by an anti-Trump. So, there will be a cleansing that’ll go on, in the — once he is knocked out of primaries. And I think you will see a new, and better, and more optimistic, solution-oriented Republican Party going into the general election.”

Earlier, he stated Trump’s plan is “about as realistic as one of the big neon signs on one of Donald Trump’s buildings. Not much.” And “Well, this is one of the biggest expansions of federal power that anyone has ever proposed in American history. Donald Trump would need an army of armed federal agents, with guns, from Washington, to deport 11 million people. He’d need the same army to start deporting children who were born here in the United States and are now American citizens. He says he’s going to stop people from sending money back to their home countries. Does that mean he’s going to give Washington the power to open our Fed-Ex packages? He is now interfering with American business saying, [paraphrasing], ‘By the way, if you want to hire an H-1B visa candidate, somebody to come over here and do technical work. Guess what? It’s going to cost you more. Because Washington and I say so.’ He is not a small-government conservative. Donald Trump thinks bigger government is great as long as he’s running it, and not those stupid politicians. So, this is, I think, a very unrealistic plan.”

There is a civil war raging in the Republican Party, even if some conservatives don’t think so. It’s a battle between the angry, frustrated and fed-up wing and the more moderate types. At the moment Trump is the standard bearer for the angry wing, voters who may very well sit home on Election Day if Trump or someone they think is not “conservative enough” wins the nomination.

Trump tells us he’ll deport 11 million illegal immigrants. It’s not going to happen and I suspect even he knows it. But so what? It’s what the angry, frustrated and fed-up wing wants to hear…

When you’re angry, frustrated and fed-up someone like Trump looks like the messiah they’ve been waiting for. They don’t care if Trump is just spouting words that have little substance. They don’t care how impractical he is. His strong suit is that he’s not the others. And for the moment, that’s more than enough.

Here’s another question: If Trump no longer is in the race will his acolytes throw their support to another “real conservative” or say the deck was stacked against their guy and sit it out?

Some of you and the GOP Establishment (yeah, it exists) don’t think illegal aliens are a problem. They are. And the people suffering aren’t yahoos and rubes hatin’ on them brownpeople from Mex-eeee-ko. They are fellow Americans who see their property overrun and stolen, their children murdered by gangbangers or slaughtered by drunk drivers, and their taxes raised to pay for the medical care and schooling of people who shouldn’t be here in the first place.

And when they protest, at best, the establishment ignores their complaints about their country being disrespected and its laws flouted. More often, they get lectured by some sanctimonious, sheltered suit like Jeb about how they need to just shut up and suck it up.

Enter Trump, filling the void the establishment left when it decided that getting cheap stevedores for the Chamber of Commerce’s biggest donors means more than preserving the country and the life real Americans worked for…

Donald Trump has been walking point on immigration, which is hilarious considering this guy’s stance went from “amnesty” to “throw them all out” to “amnesty for the terrific ones” to who-knows-what next week. But because the guy who decided to surf the zeitgeist is a joke doesn’t mean the issue isn’t real – and central to the Republican electorate.

There’s a yuuuuuuuuge upside for the first sane GOP candidate who becomes known for taking a line on illegal aliens that is tough but fair – with the fairness being to the American citizens who have been stuck paying the price in money and blood during decades of elite apathy.