Donald Trump is attending a fundraiser in Colorado on Thursday but will not make a speech on immigration, his campaign now says, despite national media reports announcing the event.
Lydia Blaha, a spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign in Colorado, said he will not hold an event in coordination with the fundraising trip, as first reported by Univision and other media outlets. The campaign was exploring a Denver-area location for the event, but later reversed course. The campaign told supporters in an email “the speech (Trump) was planning on giving is still being modified.”
I don’t see why Trump wanted to give a major speech on immigration in the first place. Normally he’s a study in contradictions, which has the advantage of letting each audience take what they want from his prior comments on the subject. If you’re a Trump fan, you’ve heard him talk mass deportation a hundred times; if you’re a critic, you’ve heard the vague blather this weekend about treating illegals fairly and humanely. What does all of that add up to? Who knows? Just assume that, whatever you’ve heard to the contrary, he privately agrees with your position on the issue. (Ted Cruz played a variation of that game in the primaries, avoiding a firm answer on legalization for as long as he could.) Now, suddenly, Trump’s ready to pin himself down to a specific, presumably coherent approach to the subject at a moment when Kellyanne Conway et al. are working hard to soften his image, which means, if he backs off mass deportation, there’ll be nowhere for him to run from border hawks. Maybe that was the point of this weekend’s leaks about his meeting with his Hispanic advisory council, to float a trial balloon and see how his fans reacted to whispers about amnesty. Would they revolt? Or would they roll over for him on this the way they roll over for him on everything else? Maybe Conway and Steve Bannon got more flak for backing off deportation than they anticipated and had to move to Plan B in fashioning a new policy approach. That would explain the delay and the need for “modifications.”
Trump’s friends at NRO have a recommendation for him to fill in the temporary blank on his policy page. How about strong internal enforcement, especially at American workplaces, and then some form of legalization later?
The way to cut through this morass is with a workable, politically sustainable enforcement-first policy of the sort that Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies has set out in our pages repeatedly. It begins with enforcement at the border and other ports of entry and — significantly — at the place of employment with an e-verify system. If it is harder to work here illegally, fewer people will come, and people already here will be more likely to leave under their own power. An irony of the immigration debate is that the same doves who argue that mass migration is inevitable cite the recent net-zero immigration from Mexico to pooh-pooh concerns about the border. Mexicans haven’t stopped coming, but the entries have been matched by exits — showing that it is possible to get illegal immigrants to leave…
Once the illegal population has measurably diminished, then we can have a discussion about what to do with the balance of the illegal population. It might make sense at that point to exchange legalization (a significant portion of the illegal population has been here more than ten years and isn’t leaving) for changes in the legal immigration system, including lower overall numbers and drastically diminished low-skilled immigration. But the first step is enforcing the laws that we already have.
Jamie Weinstein wonders whether President Trump might have a better chance at making a deal on immigration reform than President Hillary would, given that Trump’s support for legalization would defang his populist base, making it easier for Ryan and the Republican House to compromise. Obviously that depends on the results this fall: If Democrats take the White House and Senate and make gains in the House and Trump endures some sort of apocalyptic loss among Latinos and young adults, the Republican leadership might be prepared to surrender to Clinton and Schumer to finish this issue off once and for all. But there’s little doubt, I think, that President Trump with a Democratic Congress would be more likely to pass some form of legalization than President Clinton with a Republican Congress would. Ryan and McConnell might privately want to make amnesty happen but they’re terrified of a backlash from Trump’s populist voters, especially if they’re seen as selling out to a Democratic president. Only Trump can make nationalists tolerate a sellout on this issue.
For what it’s worth, assuming Trump ever does give a big speech on immigration, I think there’s a chance he’ll adopt an “internal touchback” plan for legalization, to borrow an Orwellian phrase from one of the attendees at his Hispanic advisory council meeting. Trump’s current plan, in which illegals would be deported en masse and then permitted to re-enter the U.S. through legal means, is a touchback amnesty. An “internal touchback” would skip the deportation stage and require illegals to register for legalization at their home nation’s embassy or consulate inside the U.S. It’s … regular ol’ amnesty, in other words, with a little extra procedural foofaraw thrown in. But because it’s kinda sorta conceptually similar to what Trump is proposing now — illegals will symbolically be returning home at the local consulate, since that’s technically foreign soil — Trump fans who are looking to gave Trump a pass on this will be able to argue that this new plan isn’t very different from his original plan. All that’s missing is deporting 11 million people.
Here’s Trump superfan Ann Coulter, who just published a book titled “In Trump We Trust,” insisting that President Trump will definitely deliver on the border wall he promised. Back in the day, Coulter was a Chris Christie superfan before he disappointed her. Then she was a Mitt Romney superfan before he disappointed her too. Third time’s the charm.