Trump meeting with Pena Nieto

Image courtesy of CNN

Trump Offers Tough Talk (Again)
on Immigration, Deportation

| published September 1, 2016 |

By Keith H. Roberts, Thursday Review contributor

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s newly improved “soft” position on immigration lasted only a little more than a week, as only hours after his meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Wednesday Trump again firmed-up his immigration policy, calling for the mass deportation of illegal immigrants and suggesting again that Mexico will be required to pay at least part of the cost of improved border security.

Trump’s apparent rapid reversal comes only about one week after he appeared to be moving toward the center on his signature talking points on immigration and border control, which has included his controversial plan to construct a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico.

Only weeks ago, after a major shake-up in Trump’s high command, including the arrival of a new campaign manager and a new campaign CEO, Trump began moving into a softer position, one notably similar to the immigration policies of his GOP adversaries such as Jeb Bush and John McCain. Trump’s improved talking points included gentler words on various forms of amnesty, up to and including the simple payment of back taxes and fees, coupled with verifiable steps toward full citizenship. Trump’s softer approach also included fast-tracking citizenship for children of immigrants and anyone already in the U.S. for more than five or ten years.

Trump’s strategists had hoped that the new softer talk would help the candidate overcome a sharp polling disadvantage for the GOP nominee, now locked in what looks to be a tough, close race with rival Hillary Clinton.

But by Wednesday night, at a rally in Arizona where the issues of border security and immigration have become contentious flashpoints—and a state where U.S. Senator McCain survived a tough primary challenge from Trump-like Republican Kelli Ward—Trump was offering fiery talk about the deportation of millions of undocumented workers from Mexico and other Central American nations.

“There will be no amnesty,” Trump told a mass crowd of supporters in Arizona, “and our message to the world will be this: you cannot obtain legal status or become an a citizen of the United States by entering our country illegally.”

Trump also reinforced his previous positions on the border, shouting to the friendly audience that he is again back squarely on the footprint which propelled him to the front of the Republican pack last year.

“We will build a great wall along our southern border,” Trump declared, “and Mexico will pay for that wall.” Trump stressed that there will be no exceptions and little flexibility in his program.

Campaign reboot, and reboot again—what one Republican strategist called Trump Immigration 3.1. So much for the Bush-like New Trump with all its media narrative of outreach to Hispanics.

The question now is this: has Trump already abandoned all hope of luring significant numbers of Latino voters back into the Republican column before November when voters go to the polls to choose between the businessman and the former Secretary of State. Among Latinos, Clinton has been leading Trump by hefty margins even as the poll numbers show the race ebbing and flowing, but remaining extremely close in key battleground states.

In that Arizona speech, Trump repeated many of his stump speech anecdotes about murders, robberies and rapes committed by Mexican immigrants to the U.S., an attempt to burnish his belief that much criminal activity can be traced to illegal immigration. The candidate also said that he will introduce a top-down restructuring of border security, immigration agencies and policy, and all federal and state agencies tasked with enforcement—a step he says will be necessary to manage the potential deportation of millions, as well as the orderly process of reviewing the applications of those who wish to re-enter the U.S. at a later date.

Trump said that as President he will push for legislation required that any arrest or any detention by any police department must include a standard check for citizenship status…regardless of the crime. Undocumented persons would then be fast-tracked through state and federal systems toward deportation, and those charged with serious crimes would never again be allowed to enter the U.S. The GOP candidate also again stressed the need to cut-off federal monies for any city or community which operates as a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants.

All this tough talk came in the wide wake of what was widely regarded as Trump’s major softening on immigration—an issue which may carry great weight especially with Latino voters in the U.S., many of whom have immediate or extended family members already in the country.

After his summit with Pena Nieto, Trump told reporters that the issue of the border wall and who would pay for it did not come up at any time during their discussions. But immediately after Trump’s declaration that there was no talk of a wall, Pena Nieto held a press conference of his own to insist that, in fact, not only did the issue of a border wall enter into their talks, Pena Nieto stressed to Trump that Mexico would not offer financial assistance of any kind toward the construction of any form of wall.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Federal Judge: Trump Lawsuit Will go to Trial; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; August 5, 2016.

Trump Real Estate Entities Carry Enormous Debt; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; August 21, 2016.