After all the speculation, shock, and sniping, Donald Trump’s new position on illegal immigration…turns out to be much like his old position. The wall is still intact, criminal aliens will still be deported, sanctuary cities will lose federal funds, and the Trump administration will view the issue of immigration through a brand-new lens: How it affects the American people.
“The central issue is not the needs of the 11 million illegal immigrants. That’s never really been the central issue,” Trump said Thursday in Phoenix. “It will never be the central issue. It doesn’t matter from that standpoint. Anyone who tells you that the core issue is the needs of those living here illegally has simply spent too much time in Washington.”
After a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena earlier in the day, Trump spoke at a joint press conference in Mexico City, vowing to work together with our neighbor to the south toward mutually agreeable goals: Ending illegal immigration, building a physical wall between the two countries, putting an end to drug smuggling, renegotiating NAFTA, and bringing manufacturing jobs back to the western hemisphere.
In Phoenix, Trump said a secure border would include not the just the wall, but underground sensors, guard towers, enhanced aerial surveillance, and increased manpower. He said his administration would hire triple the number of ICE agents currently employed, create a special deportation task force focused on dangerous criminals, end catch and release policies, and defund cities like San Francisco until they comply with federal immigration law.
“Our enforcement priorities will include removing criminals, gang members, security threats, visa overstays, and public charges,” Trump said. He explained that the last group included “those relying on public welfare or straining the safety net along with millions of recent illegal arrivals and overstays who’ve come here under this current corrupt administration.”
That’s enough to keep anyone busy for four years.
The mainstream media, eager to sow dissent within the Republican Party, is barely covering any of this. Their story goes like this:
“Donald Trump, scrambling to catch up to Hillary Clinton in the polls, embarked on a buffoonish trip to Mexico where he embarrassed himself on the world stage in an attempt to draw attention away from his jarring shift on illegal immigration.”
“Hillary Clinton quote, Vincente Fox quote, random illegal immigrant quote, Trump campaign quote (followed by ‘but experts say’ rebuke), end of story.”
In truth, the only shift – if you can even call it a shift – is that Trump isn’t going to deport every single illegal immigrant within the first 100 days of his presidency. But it’s not clear if even a single one of his supporters ever thought that would be the case.
Even if they did, the fact remains that we’re choosing between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump and some previous version of Donald Trump. And this Donald Trump, to whatever extent you think he’s “softening,” is still tougher on illegal immigration than any Republican presidential nominee in modern history. Criticize him if you must, but just remember: Nothing better is coming. This is as good as we’re ever going to get. And if we miss this opportunity, we will never have another.