As of Nov. 11, Donald Trump had either led or tied for first place in Republican 2016 polls for 114 days. But his performance in this week’s debate proved what a disaster a Trump presidency would prove for the Republican Party — and for the Republic.

 Trump only has one issue: his relentless, racist attack on illegal immigrants. He began by calling them ‘rapists’ in his June 16 campaign kick-off, while promising to build a ‘great wall’ along the Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it. He’s now expanded his broadside to include rounding up all 11 million people estimated to be in the United States illegally and deporting them south of the border: a pledge he lustily repeated in the Fox Business Channel debate.

 John Kasich and Jeb Bush dared challenge Trump. ‘We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them across, back across the border. It’s a silly argument,’ Kasich fired off. Bush correctly observed that people were probably doing ‘high-fives’ in Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, watching Republican candidates declare war on 11 million people who may have come here illegally, but are otherwise still law-abiding, tax-paying residents.

 Imagine, first, the logistical nightmare of identifying these 11 million people, tracking them down, rounding them up and transporting them by bus, truck, train or plane. Imagine, next, the human toll: families torn apart in the middle of the night. Nothing could be more cruel, inhumane or un-American.

 At the same time, Trump and his fellow Republicans totally ignore what Ronald Reagan did about illegal immigration. In 1986, faced with a similar problem of millions living ‘in the shadows,’ the man Republicans worship as their political god actually signed legislation granting 3 million people, anyone who’d been here for four years, permanent residence in the United States. 

 Anti-immigrant hysteria, of course, is nothing new to this country. But the fact that a major political party would embrace it is shameful. We can only hope Republicans come to their senses before the Iowa caucuses, some 80 days away. This is America. Mass deportation of immigrants is never going to happen — and should not.

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