Has Trump given up on mass deportation for illegals and temporarily banning Muslim visitors?

Apart from building the wall, those are his two signature policy proposals. Walking away from them in the middle of a campaign would be like Obama walking away from universal health care in summer 2008. They form the core of the belief that Trump will insist on politically incorrect nationalist solutions to America’s problems no matter how much it may shock establishment sensibilities. If he’s backing off of these, how firm can that conviction be?

The question in the headline isn’t rhetorical, though. In each case, it’s not clear what the new policy is, exactly. Quote one:

[W]hen a CBS News reporter asked him if Muslims from Scotland would be welcome in the United States, he responded: ‘Wouldn’t bother me.’

‘I don’t want people coming in from the terror countries. You have terror countries!’ he said – before altering his view significantly.

‘I don’t want them, unless they’re very, very strongly vetted,’ he declared…

He finally settled on saying ‘I don’t care where’ immigrants come from.

‘But they’re going to be even more severely vetted if it’s one of the terror countries.’

When Trump first floated the Muslim ban last year it was a simple blanket proposition, “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” for some unspecified time. In fact, it was so total and complete that initially his campaign wasn’t sure if it would also apply to American Muslims who happened to be traveling abroad when the ban went into effect. Would they be allowed back in? Unclear, at least at first. The blanket ban was taken as proof of how much of a hard-ass Trump was willing to be in tackling the problem of jihadi infiltration. No entry for Muslims, period, at least for awhile. Better safe than sorry. As recently as last month, he was still talking about making “exceptions” to a blanket ban when asked if London’s new Muslim mayor would be allowed to visit the U.S. The presumption seemed to be that all Muslims would be blocked from entry with occasional outliers like the mayor (or Trump’s business partners in Arab countries) allowed in because they were especially trustworthy.

Then, two weeks ago, the complexion of the plan changed. In his speech on terrorism, he shifted from a blanket ban to a targeted ban in which, it seemed, Muslims would be allowed entry unless they happened to live in a terror hot spot. Instead of presuming that any given Muslim might be a terrorist and barring them sight unseen, now he was presuming that they were innocent unless they came from countries like Iraq or Syria with large concentrations of jihadis. Those people would be banned. But then, yesterday, in his chat with the Daily Mail, that seemed to shift too — now people from “terror countries” might also be allowed in, subject of course to more careful vetting, which is basic, unobjectionable common sense. Confounded by the shift, the Daily Mail followed up with Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s policy advisors, to confirm that the new Muslim policy isn’t a blanket ban or even a ban at all but rather a simple call for tighter screening of visitors from countries with a strong terrorist presence. Well, said Miller, it may be a little of both. There may be a “pause from certain regions until [there is] effective security in place.” So there’s still a ban, possibly — but it won’t be a “total and complete shutdown,” it’ll be targeted geographically. Does that mean the entire Middle East or just Iraq and Syria or just parts of Iraq and Syria? No one from Team Trump would specify. But that’s where we are. For now.

Quote two:

“President Obama has mass deported vast numbers of people — the most ever, and it’s never reported. I think people are going to find that I have not only the best policies, but I will have the biggest heart of anybody,” Trump said.

Pressed on whether he would issue “mass deportations,” Trump answered: “No, I would not call it mass deportations.”

In Trump’s immigration plan, released in 2015, the U.S. will build a wall along its border with Mexico and make Mexico pay for the structure by, in part, impounding certain remittance payments. Trump has also said he would deport all undocumented immigrants, a number estimated at 11 million.

Trump, 70, continued eating fish and chips at his golf course’s clubhouse before adding: “We are going to get rid of a lot of bad dudes who are here,” he said. “That I can tell you.”

“They have to go,” he told Chuck Todd last August when pressed on whether he’s serious about deporting 11 million illegals. “We either have a country or we don’t have a country.” Now we’re at “No, I would not call it mass deportations.” Whether the policy’s still the same and he’s just playing rhetorical games here or whether something has changed and he has yet to specify, God only knows. If he’s willing to shift from “No Muslims in” to “No bad Muslims in,” though, presumably he’s also willing to shift from “All illegals out” to “All bad illegals out.” Hence the bit about getting rid of the “bad dudes,” which is so uncontroversial that even hardcore amnesty shill Hillary Clinton supports it.

Reading what Trump said yesterday reminds me of that odd aside from Paul Ryan a few weeks ago when he appeared to say that Trump had told him that mass deportation is “not part of our agenda.” Ryan’s office claimed that he’d been misunderstood and that Ryan was saying it wasn’t part of the House’s agenda, but go watch the clip. If Trump told Ryan that mass deportation is just a bluff, it would help explain why Ryan insists on backing him. Remember too that Trump allegedly told the NYT editorial board awhile back that he was more flexible on immigration than they thought, and that Paul Manafort predicted last month that Trump was going to soften on his Muslim ban. That’s a lot of hedging. It’s understandable that a presidential nominee would moderate some of his positions during the general election to woo swing voters, especially one like Trump who’s after populists on the left. But again, these aren’t any ol’ policies — these are the ones that supposedly prove that he’ll stand firm against the political class no matter how much they sneer at him. If he wants to moderate on something, tax hikes on the rich or a higher minimum wage are the ways to go, not mass deportation.

Since we’re comparing Trump now with Trump then, though, here’s one more fun one via the Daily Caller. A taste of Trump 2013, writing for CNN about that year’s Davos conference:

What has been made clear by current events and financial upheavals since 2008 is that the global economy has become truly that — global…

I think we’ve all become aware of the fact that our cultures and economics are intertwined. It’s a complex mosaic that cannot be approached with a simple formula for the correct pattern to emerge. In many ways, we are in unchartered waters…

My concern is that the negligence of a few will adversely affect the majority. I’ve long been a believer in the “look at the solution, not the problem” theory. In this case, the solution is clear. We will have to leave borders behind and go for global unity when it comes to financial stability.

Which Trump is the real Trump, the nationalist of today or the border-erasing globalist from, um, around a thousand days ago? Buy the ticket. Take the ride.

Via the Right Scoop, here’s a darkly funny bit from Jimmy Kimmel confirming what we all already know, that none of the above matters because Trump enjoys a cult of personality that would forgive him if he literally murdered someone, let alone flipped on his core proposals.