According to the latest Washington scuttlebutt, Donald Trump is getting ready to roll back certain portions of his original immigration proposal. While the wall across the Mexican border remains an official part of Trump’s platform, reports say that the Republican candidate will be distancing himself from earlier talk of mass deportations. One individual who attended Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council meeting on Saturday told the press that illegal immigrants already in the country would not need to fear being deported under a Trump administration.
So yeah. That’s that, then.
Still, there’s no reason to get discouraged. Even if Trump does continue some form of President Obama’s deportation policy, we’ll still be in a far better position to tackle the illegal immigration crisis. Securing the border must be our top priority, and Trump has not even hinted that he will back away from the Wall. If Trump can successfully cut the rate of illegal immigration in half or better, America’s prospects going forward will brighten considerably. The dangerous thing about amnesty is not that it legalizes the people already here, it’s that it sends an engraved invitation to millions of others.
On the other hand, you have to wonder what Trump hopes to accomplish with this pivot. His (alleged) turnaround on deportations is unlikely to inspire Hispanics to get behind his candidacy in any greater numbers. Despite what Democrats would have us believe, Hispanics – by and large – are not single-issue voters, always out there scanning the political landscape for candidates who promise amnesty. Polls show that Hispanics, like most Americans, care far more about the state of the economy and the health of the job market than they do about the situation at the border. And many of them know exactly how destructive illegal immigration is to both.
There is a class of people in this country, however, for whom continued and prosperous illegal immigration is very much a top priority. That class isn’t comprised of Hispanics; it’s made up of wealthy corporate interests who don’t want to sacrifice the profits they’ve made using cheap imported labor. Many of those interests manifest as Republican donors, and they have guided this party away from its conscience for far too long.
Trump was supposed to be the final answer to the Establishment that has pushed for these lax immigration policies in both parties. If his sudden shift here represents a strategy to attract Hispanics, it’s a shot in the dark that will have few consequences, good or bad. If it represents a concession to the Republican powers-that-be, on the other hand…well, that would be very unfortunate, indeed.