Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump delivered a much-anticipated speech in Phoenix Wednesday night that was intended to clarify his immigration reform policies. Trump’s did clear up some confusion about his immigration proposals…and that’s about the best thing we can say about his big speech.
Here’s a rundown of the highlights lowlights of Trump’s speech, per the Washington Post:
He declared that he will build a “Great Wall.” (“On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall.”)
He insisted “Mexico will pay” for it: “One-hundred percent. They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for the wall.”
He suggested that he’d like to deport his opponent. “Maybe they’ll be able to deport her.”
He said Dwight Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback” did not go far enough. (He name-checked Ike but did not say what the strategy was called.)
He reiterated that he will indeed create “a deportation task force” and promised to deport two million “criminal aliens” starting on “day one.”
He said undocumented immigrants seeking legal status would first have to leave the country and try to return lawfully. “There will be no amnesty,” he said. “You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country. Can’t do it. … Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation.” He did not use the term “self-deportation,” but that’s exactly what he called for: “You can call it ‘deport’ if you want. The press doesn’t like that term. You can call it whatever the hell you want.”
He claimed “countless Americans” are “victims of violence” by illegal immigrants who are “dangerous, dangerous, dangerous criminals”: “We will issue detainers for illegal immigrants arrested for any crime whatsoever.”
He said government has “no idea” how many undocumented immigrants are on U.S. soil: “It could be 30 million.”
“We’re like the big bully that keeps getting beat up,” Trump explained. “We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. Sometimes it’s just not going to work out. It’s our right, as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us.”
Having ditched his traveling press corps, Trump’s lie that he and President Enrique Pena Nieto didn’t discuss who would pay for his border wall wasn’t exposed until the Mexican president tweeted that they had a few hours later. And minutes after he stepped onto another stage here Wednesday night and began to speak to his raucous supporters, it was even more clear that the sojourn across the southern border, much like his campaign’s two-weeks of gentle walkbacks, was a ruse—that Trump and his campaign had used Pena Nieto as a prop in an opening act that served only to set up an evening stem-winder. The farce was, in hindsight, clear even before Trump approached the mic, as two of his warm-up speakers, Rudy Giuliani and Jeff Sessions, donned Trump hats that read “Make Mexico Great Again too.”…
…A senior Clinton campaign adviser acknowledged that Trump’s daring Mexico gambit seemed effective and thus worrisome for a few hours Wednesday—until his speech a few hours later. “Not worried anymore,” the adviser said. “The Nuremberg speech put all that statesman-like stuff away.”
We’ll leave the commentary to our readers on this one.