Is it really new? No. Come, I will show you.
Over the weekend Donald Trump met with Hispanic voters and supporters in a closed-door meeting where, news reports and speculation say, he may have softened his immigration position or taken steps to soften it. There are no damning quotes from the meeting, yet, but the tone presented by Trump and his surrogates is definitely kinder and gentler, as we noted on Sunday.
Then on Fox News on Monday, Bill O’Reilly pressed Trump on the issue, with mixed results but definitely leaning toward the “nevermind, let’s all be friends” side of things from The Donald.
“We’re going to obey the existing laws. The existing laws are very strong,” he said. Yes, that is a substantive change from prior statements.
“The first thing we are going to do if and when I win, is we’re going to get rid of all of the bad ones,” he added. Not much change there. “We’ve got gang members, we have killers, we have got a lot of bad people that have to get out of this country.”
“As far as the rest, we’re going go through the process like they are now, perhaps with a lot more energy, and we’re going to do it only through the system of laws.” …. Hold up.
“Like they are now”? What??
Hello, Best Buy? I’d like to make a return. This packaging clearly says new and improved, but when I opened the box, it was the same old product.
Amazing. Still, though, the truth is that this isn’t new or even a policy change for Trump. Despite his fiery rhetoric, and despite what his legions of adoring white nationalists believe, he never really had a tough new immigration plan anyway.
I mean, sure he made definitive statements like: “You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely.” Or: “We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out.” Or “They’re going to go, and then come back and come back legally.” But it was all bluster.
Look, here is what two Trump surrogates said on the Sunday talk shows this week:
Mr. Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, signaled on Sunday that he has been reconsidering his approach to deportations. Pressed in an interview on CNN as to whether a deportation force was still on the table as a law enforcement measure, Ms. Conway said it was “to be determined.”
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a staunch ally of Mr. Trump’s who advises him on immigration policy, also acknowledged the new uncertainty, saying on CBS that Mr. Trump was “wrestling” with what to do about deportations.
Now compare to this quote which I first wrote about over three months ago.
“I call it a rhetorical deportation of 12 million people,” Collins said.
He then gestured toward a door in his Capitol Hill office.
“They go out that door, they go in that room, they get their work papers, Social Security number, then they come in that door, and they’ve got legal work status but are not citizens of the United States,” Collins said. “So there was a virtual deportation as they left that door for processing and came in this door.”
Collins added: “We’re not going to put them on a bus, and we’re not going to drive them across the border.”
That’s from Rep. Chris Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, who has been a key ally and surrogate, and who Trump had second his nomination at the convention in Cleveland. You guys, these are top Trump people. They are saying it.
And Trump backs them up. He backed them up on the O’Reilly Factor last night, and three months ago, when Collins spilled the beans about the “virtual” deportations, Trump backed him up, too, saying:
“Look, everything, honestly, is going to be up .. we’re going to negotiate. I can’t make these decisions myself. We have congress … we have to deal with a lot of people. I mean, you know, I can’t just take executive orders like Obama…”
That was his answer when asked specifically about “virtual” deportations. (Oh by the way? The wall was virtual too, said Collins. yeah.)
For some real fun, note that the word “deport” only appears on the immigration page of his website once.
In other words, Trump makes definitive statements that he will absolutely do something, then his surrogates reveal he actually might not do those things, and then he waffles around citing the need to work with Congress and existing laws and other things that would have his base foaming at the mouth if, say, John McCain said them. Can you really, seriously not see that, Trump voters?
“I’m going to deport every illegal person.”
“Yeah but like, not really though, right?”
Like National Review, I would welcome with relief an immigration plan that doesn’t sound like it was written by David Duke or Laura Ingraham. It also should not sound like it was written by Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton. With Trump, you might get either. Or neither. Or both. But whichever you get, you can bet he’ll have already lied about it.
You know why this is not a change in policy for Trump? He doesn’t have one. (Although he might have three.) You see, you can’t change what doesn’t exist.
Oh and before I forget: told you so.