Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pivotless Trump

Donald Trump is catching a lot of preemptive flack over rumors that he may be backing away from his deportation plans. It's politics so it's not that strange that people are sensationalizing things that aren't that sensational, but I have to say that I'm surprised that this would be a surprise to anybody. For it to be newsworthy, shouldn't it be news?

After getting his campaign off the launch pad by highlighting the negative effects of illegal immigration, promising to build a wall and promising to be tough on immigration enforcement, he's now being accused of pivoting on his signature issue. My challenge to those making the claim that supporting legalization is a pivot for Trump is, -prove it-. What are the examples from this election cycle of Trump publicly stating that he did not support legalization for illegal immigrants currently living in the US?

One of my gripes with Mr. Trump has been that he is nebulous (to be generous) on policy. He frequently makes contradictory position statements on a variety of issues, but his position on legalization is one of the rare exceptions to this rule. In this area he actually has a conviction and that conviction doesn't align with the idea that legalization should be off the table. The incongruity in his rhetoric has always been the deportation talk.

Whether it was statements last year about having an expedited way to get illegals back to their jobs after deportation, or his response to the deportation question in the June Bloomberg interview stating "I think people are going to find that I have not only the best policies, but I will have the biggest heart of anybody," it should have been clear to everyone that his call for a "deportation force" was campaign trail rhetorical nonsense.

In that June Bloomberg interview he also said he wouldn't do mass deportations and leveled the accusation that Obama "...has mass deported vast numbers of people — the most ever, and it's never reported.". Seriously. I'm probably as staunchly opposed to legalization as anybody, but even I wouldn't see any point in deporting 11 plus million people if you're just going to bring them right back in. The point of the exercise isn't simply to create massive amounts of bureaucratic busy work for DHS. And even Donald Trump understands that.

When it's all said and done, I have complete confidence that Trump's "biggest heart of anybody" immigration reform would look a lot like "compassionate conservative" GW Bush's and John McCain's immigration reform plus a wall, or part of a wall, or a metaphorical wall. But after listening to Trump talk about immigration for the entire campaign cycle, I don't really see that as any pivot at all.

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