Donald Trump will head to Phoenix to deliver another teleprompter speech outlining the latest variant of his immigration plan. Despite the efforts of his staff to broaden Trump’s appeal and rescue his sinking electoral hopes, Trump has made it clear that he has no desire to alter his approach to immigration policy.
Much to the chagrin of Establishment Republicans and Trump’s own advisers, there will be no pivot from Trump’s outlandish immigration proposals. For the past year, the Republican nominee has called Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers, threatened to take away U.S. citizenship from children born in this country, and insinuated that all Muslims hate America. Through all of that, Trump has made it clear that he won’t change. He’s described his immigration proposals as “a very hard-line position” and it won’t be easily abandoned. Despite pleas from Republican brass throughout his campaign, Trump has jumped from one racially charged controversy to the next. He doesn’t want to change, he doesn’t want to pivot.
Dispelling rumors of a “softening” of his immigration approach, Trump’s National Spokesperson Katrina Pierson perfectly distilled Trump’s approach to discussing immigration: “He hasn’t changed his position on immigration. He’s changed the words that he is saying.” Trump will never be capable of shifting his positions on immigration because they’ve existed as the crux of his campaign since he descended Trump Tower’s golden escalator to announce his candidacy. Even if Trump wanted to change, it’s far from certain that he’d be able to. Trump’s outlandish crusades against Judge Gonzalo Curiel and Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan demonstrate that Trump’s animosity to immigrants isn’t solely a political position, it’s a fundamental part of who he is.
Here are five examples of Trump’s true feelings on immigration and immigrants:
I. “We’re gonna have a real wall. We’re not playing games.”
“When I say build a wall I’m not just playing games. we’re going to have a real wall. We’re gonna have a real wall. We’re not playing games.” [Video: Politics and Eggs, Manchester, NH, 11/11/2015]
Donald Trump began his presidential campaign with a simple promise: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.” Rarely does a Trump rally occur without Trump reveling in the ubiquitous “Build that wall” chant, followed by Trump assuring the crowd that, “Believe me, we’re going to build the wall.”
As Trump’s support continues to crater among suburban college-educated voters, Trump’s advisers have tried to portray a kinder, gentler Trump. Trump’s faux-outreach to black voters–which coincidentally occurs in front of almost exclusively white audiences–is one example, attempted backtracking on “building a wall and making Mexico pay for it,” is another. Appearing on “Fox & Friends”, Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani attempted to make space for a Trump pivot explaining that the wall will be, “a technological as well as a physical wall.”
Did Trump seize the opportunity to moderate his approach? Not a chance. Less than 24 hours after Giuliani’s statement, Trump took to Twitter to clarify that, “From day one I said that I was going to build a great wall on the SOUTHERN BORDER, and much more.”
While Trump’s promise to build a wall may bolster his nationalist-populist appeal, Trump’s plan is economically infeasible and isn’t the most effective method to deter border crossings. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has made it clear that “there is no scenario” in which Mexico will pay for Trump’s wall. Further more, Trump has vacillated in the specific mechanism under which he’ll coerce Mexico to pay for the wall: Will remittances be stopped or taxed? Will tariffs (likely in violation of NAFTA) be placed on Mexican goods? As for the effectiveness of Trump’s wall, research demonstrates that increased border enforcement is counter-productive to Trump’s stated goals. As border enforcement increases, more undocumented immigrants choose to remain in the United States rather than returning home.
II. “We Have Many Illegals In The Country And We Have To Get Them Out.”
[Lester Holt]: You’ve also promised to deport those that are in this country illegally. Do you stand by that? [Donald Trump]: They can come back, yes. They’re going to be deported. We either have a country or we don’t. We have many illegals in the country and we have to get them out and go through a process.” [“Nightly News,” NBC, 5/4/16]
In tandem with his promise to build a wall on the Mexican border, Trump has repeatedly promised to deport every undocumented immigrant in the United States. In November, Trump proposed using a “deportation force” to send immigrant families, “back where they came.” Trump’s deportation plan applies not only to undocumented immigrants, but their families as well. Trump has decried “Anchor Babies” and claimed that they don’t have American Citizenship–so it’s no surprise Trump’s deportation proposal includes deporting American citizens along with their undocumented family members. With 4.5 million American children born of unauthorized immigrants and countless other families with at least one undocumented relative living in the country, Donald Trump’s deportation proposal would tear millions of families apart.
Once again, Trump’s team has tried to steer the candidate away from his inflammatory plan to deport over 11 million undocumented immigrants. And once again, Trump has refused to take the out. Last week Trump said that he’s not “flip-flopping,” he’s sticking with a punitive immigration plan that “has to be very firm.” His son, Eric, echoed his father’s position saying, “My father hasn’t flip-flopped on anything.” Donald Trump Jr. also helpfully chimed in telling Anderson Cooper that his father still intends to deport all undocumented immigrants from the country. Not only is Trump’s plan morally reprehensible, but it’s economically dangerous as well. Trump’s alma mater, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, projected that Trump’s immigration proposals would cost the United States 4 million jobs.
III. “Get immigration numbers under control.”
“When I am President we will listen to the people – not the special interests – and get immigration numbers under control, as the voters have demanded.” [Donald J. Trump for President Press Release, 03/07/2016]
Donald Trump’s crusade against immigration extends beyond building a wall and deporting millions of immigrants. Despite high-praise on the trail for immigrants who’ve arrived in the country through the legal process and a belief that he’ll poll very well with “the legals”, Trump actually wants to limit the admission of legal immigrants into the United States. Trump’s primary position paper on the issue cites the Center for Immigration Studies, a nativist organization that has blamed immigrants for all of society’s ills from terrorism to global warming. A cursory look at CIS’s studies show that their anti-immigrant agenda leads to widespread data manipulation to “prove” their point. Trump’s “Immigration Reform That Will Make America Great Again” proposal outlines his position on legal immigration:
Every year, we voluntarily admit another 2 million new immigrants, guest workers, refugees, and dependents, growing our existing all-time historic record population of 42 million immigrants. We need to control the admission of new low-earning workers…
Trump’s solution? A suspension of new green cards for foreign workers for, “a minimum of one year, maybe two years.”
Despite Trump’s opposition to new immigration and guest workers, his own companies continue to seek additional temporary workers from overseas.
IV. “Total and complete shutdown of Muslims”
“Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” [Mount Pleasant, SC, 12/07/2015]
Add to the list of people Donald Trump wants to kick out of the country all Muslim immigrants and refugees. Donald Trump has made it clear that when it comes to Muslims, “We don’t want them in our country.” As the 10,000th refugee fleeing the unspeakable devastation in Syria arrives in the United States, refugees will continue to live in fear knowing that a Trump presidency means, “Anybody that’s brought into this country from the migration is going to be out.”
Once again, Trump’s team and Republican leadership have tried to steer Trump away from such a ridiculous and bigoted proposal. And once again, Trump has refused to soften his stance, claiming, “I’m not softening my stance at all.” While Trump could have attempted to add rhetorical nuance to his position after claiming that it only applies to countries “compromised by terrorism”–a designation that would ban one-third of the world, including citizens of longtime allies Britain, France, and Germany, from traveling to the United States–he instead described the altered proposal as “an expansion” of his ban on Muslims. Additionally, Trump’s policy release calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” remains on his official campaign website.
Trump’s religious test for immigrants and refugees clearly violates legal prohibitions against religious discrimination and reveals a man filled with the same fervent nationalism that has made him a darling of white nationalists and the so-called “alt-right”.
V. “I love the Mexican people! I have so many Mexicans working for me!”
“I love the Mexican people! I have so many Mexicans working for me!” [Tampa, FL, 6/11/2016]
Despite the invective hurled at those of Hispanic descent, Donald Trump has still attempted to court their votes. How could anyone ever forget the celebration of Mexican culture at Trump Tower on Cinco de Mayo?
Tasty taco bowls aside, Trump has pinned his Latino outreach on the belief that he’ll earn Latino support because they don’t want their jobs taken away by illegal immigrants. This line of reasoning is inherently racist as it assumes that resident aliens and American citizens of Hispanic heritage exclusively occupy the same types of low-wage jobs that undocumented immigrants typically fill.
Trump’s animosity isn’t tied to immigration status, it’s tied to race and ethnicity. Trump’s crusade against Judge Gonzalo Curiel exemplified this racial bias. Born in Indiana, Trump dismissed Curiel’s ability to preside fairly over the Trump University lawsuit because “He’s a Mexican,” and his Mexican heritage is why Trump felt he was treating him unfairly.
Trump’s bigotry extends similarly to those of the Islamic faith. While Trump has predicated his assault on Muslims with fear of terrorism, the case of the Khan family demonstrates that Trump’s animosity is based simply in fear and hate of The Other. Trump targeted Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan and claimed that Ghazala Khan was kept from speaking because of her religion. Trump’s opposition to Muslim immigrants and refugees isn’t based in national security or a fear of terrorism, it’s based in personal animosity to people who follow the Islamic faith.
Trump’s own prejudice and bigotry is a bigger stumbling block to an immigration “pivot” than a deeply held conviction that any of the above policies would truly be effective and in the national interest.