Then Trump got to the heart of the matter. “The word compromise is absolutely fine. But if you are going to compromise, ask for about three times more than you want. You understand? So when you compromise, you get what you want.”

Perhaps deporting all illegal immigrants is the political version of asking for about three times more than you want.

Trump has repeated his deportation vow many times. But few have noted that when Trump rolled out his written immigration plan, posted on his campaign website, there was nothing about mass deportation. In addition to Trump’s famous “beautiful wall,” the plan had a lot of mainstream conservative proposals about securing the border and tightening interior enforcement.

The effect of Trump’s deportation proposal was to pull the Republican immigration debate toward immigration and further right — that is, where Trump wanted it to go. When Trump made an actual written proposal, even an abbreviated campaign-style proposal, it was more measured.