The news out from that hot August evening (in Phoenix, obviously a safe bet) was
Donald Trump’s latest immigration proposals would require a dramatic and costly expansion of the U.S. border-control system — targeting millions more people for immediate removal while also making it much harder for millions of others to enter the country legally.
The deportation priorities outlined by the Republican presidential nominee during a policy address here late Wednesday would target at least 5 million and as many as 6.5 million undocumented immigrants for swift removal, or about half of the 11 million estimated to be living in the United States. And he left open the possibility that he would seek to deport many more as well.
“Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation,” Trump said.
Trump delivered a series of similarly sweeping statements and proposals during the hard-edged speech, following a tortuous two-week period in which he had signaled that he might soften his tone on the issue instead. He not only called for removing all undocumented immigrants who had committed crimes, but also said he would prioritize the deportation of those who have overstayed their visas.
To accomplish that goal, he said he would triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and create a “new special deportation task force” to track the most serious security threats.
At the debate on Wednesday, Donald Trump inadvertently (and to no notice) demonstrated that his immigration policy has taken a similar route as has his abortion policy.
Interviewed by Chris Matthews several months earlier, Mr. Trump had truly been politically incorrect and had let the cat out of the bag: if abortion is prohibited, the woman procuring the illegal procedure would have to be punished somehow.
He learns fast, pushed along by both the pro-choice left and the forced-birth right, both of which unsurprisingly condemned the gaffe. Thus, when Hillary Clinton charged, disingenuously, "he said women should be punished, that there should be some form of punishment for women who obtain abortions," Trump avoided responding to the attack, instead condemning late-term abortion.
In Las Vegas, Clinton asserted "I don't want to rip families apart. I don't want to be sending parents away from children. I don't want to see the deportation force that Donald has talked about in action in our country." To that, Trump had one response: none.
In his immediate prior remarks, Trump had conceded (emphasis mine) "And once the border is secured, at a later date, we'll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here, and we're going to get them out." No one ever lost a vote denouncing the "drug lords" Trump said he wanted deported.
Rather than calling for removal of any individual here illegally, Trump stated "I want to build the wall. We need the wall. And the Border Patrol, ICE, they all want the wall." He maintained "drugs are pouring in through the border" and called- in that one replay- five times for "strong borders." Additionally, he used the generic term "border" or "borders" six additional times.
Commenting on the immigration exchange, the Washington Post's Aaron Blake noted "Polls show very few Americans want mass deportation."Trump has backed away from that idea a little bit..."
He (Trump) learns fast. At a September town hall meeting hosted by Sean Hannity- thus dominated by anti-immigrant Trump supporters- the candidate explained took a push poll, asking the audience whether it wanted to have deported "somebody who's been in the country for 20 years, has done a great job, job and everything else." Receiving the expected response, Trump observed "They want toughness, they want firmness, they want to obey the law. But, but, they feel that throwing them out as a whole family where they've been here for a long time, it's a tough thing. They do feel that."
To acclamation, Trump advocated comprehensive immigration reform- but of course, a wall. The thought (and especially the visual image) of throwing out individuals and families is discomfiting.
So a wall, with a cost of roughly $25 billion, must be built to keep people out. Those (except hardened criminals) who came in because of the absence of that wall would be given a pass by the candidate who strenuously opposes "amnesty." And a doctor who performs an illegal abortion is to be prosecuted while the woman who pays him to commit the murder is to be given a free pass.
The two positions, each thoroughly illogical and lacking internal consistency, are formulated for political expediency. Donald Trump discovered early that defrauding people and playing ball with La Cosa Nostra can pay major dividends, and now he has learned the same about taking cowardly positions on major social issues. He learns fast.