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GOP's Donald Trump Revives Decade-Old Immigration Plan

Donald Trump, who leads all GOP rivals in the presidential primary polling, is making an immigration proposal from about a decade ago his latest propo
Image: US Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Visits His Scottish Golf Course
AYR, SCOTLAND - JULY 30: US Presidential Candidate Donald Trump visits his Scottish golf course Turnberry on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump answered questions from the media at a press conference. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

Donald Trump, who leads all GOP rivals in the presidential primary polling, drew on an immigration proposal from about a decade ago for his latest proposal on dealing with immigrants living illegally in the U.S.

Trump told CNN he would remove all people here illegally and have them return "in an expedited way" return to the U.S.

"I would get people out and I would have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal," Trump said. "We have to bring great people into this country ... I love the idea of immigration, but it's got to be legal immigration."

For some who've been watching the immigration debate in Congress for a while, the proposal may sound familiar. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., made a similar proposal in 2005 under which people here illegally would return to their countries, apply for a work visa at U.S. embassies and re-enter the U.S. legally as temporary workers.

What tripped up that proposal remains an open question with Trump, something he could not yet explain in detail in his interview with CNN: How do you identify the millions you want to leave and get them to do so?

Trump, who made billions in real estate and other business ventures, said doing so is easy and politicians aren't able to because they don't know how to manage.

But there are naysayers to the feasibility of Trump's plan, having seen something similar before.

The Kyl proposal eventually became known as "report to deport." Many questioned whether people would voluntarily report to the government to be deported. Even Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a 2005 Judiciary Committee hearing, that "11 million people are not going to voluntarily come out of the shadows just to be shipped home. 'Report to Deport' is not reality and it isn't workable. Systematically rounding up every person living here illegally and sending them home isn't a viable solution either."

The 2005 leave and return idea was proposed as an alternative to McCain-Kennedy (immigration bill of 2005), said rank Sharry, executive director and founder of America's Voice, who had worked for passage of the McCain-Kennedy bill at the time.

"It was really designed to slow down and undermine comprehensive immigration reform," Sharry said. "McCain-Kennedy passed the Senate anyway but was blocked in the House."

He added that even Kyl and cosponsor John Cornyn, R-Texas, didn't say they would "round 'em up and deport them first."

Sharry pegged Trump's idea as mass deportation.

“The notion of forcing 11 million hardworking immigrant families to leave the country is so ugly and unworkable even the anti-immigrant movement has disavowed this radical notion," Sharry said.

"Now Trump is going there, putting him to the right of Romney’s radical ‘self-deportation’ stance and showing the country generally, and Latino, Asian-American and immigrant voters in particular what the GOP’s frontrunner has in mind for immigration policy in America.”