Is Donald “build-a-wall” Trump going soft on illegal immigration? The GOP presidential candidate sought to reassure concerned supporters at a rally in Phoenix this week by debuting an ambitious 10-point immigration plan. With cowboy hats and boots on display throughout the Phoenix Convention Center arena, the large crowd loved every minute of the hour-long speech, heartily cheering such applause lines as “We take in anyone … Not anymore!”
Noticeably missing, however, was his previous call to deport all 11 million or so illegal immigrants. Based on recent statements, he seems to have backed off of that promise. Perhaps he concluded it wasn’t feasible. Perhaps he was advised that Congress would never pass such a law and that he could not constitutionally accomplish it with an executive order.
The event featured several GOP stars, including Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Trump’s running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana. When border-hawk Sheriff Arpaio came on stage, the crowd roared so loudly it was like being at a rock concert.
Former 9-11 New York Mayor City Rudy Giuliani was a bit of a surprise speaker, and arguably made the most powerful speech for Trump. “Based on Hillary’s job at the Secretary of State,” he told the crowd, “I wouldn’t elect her to dog catcher in New York!”
Trump’s “Angel Moms” related their tragic stories of relatives killed (or in one case, made into a paraplegic) by criminal illegal immigrants. The speakers all wore Trump’s “Make America Great Again” trademark white baseball cap, as did Trump.
Arizona’s Republican Senator John McCain was noticeably missing from the event. Whenever his name came up, the crowd booed loudly. McCain has angered the conservative base in Arizona for failing to keep his word when it comes to curbing illegal immigration.
Trump Goes After Hillary
Trump’s speech was awash with the points and subpoints of his immigration plan, but he also left room to go after his Democratic opponent. “Hillary only cares about one thing when it comes to illegal immigration, the needs of the illegal immigrants here,” he said, adding that her immigration plan is nothing but open borders.
He said he would create a new task force to find the most criminally dangerous illegal immigrants, “just like dangerous Hillary Clinton, maybe they’ll be able to deport her.” And he said that he consulted with border patrol officers and experts on the illegal immigration problem in order to develop his 10-point plan, whereas Clinton just meets with lobbyists and big donors.
Other parts of his plan include passing Kate’s Law, to ensure that criminal illegal immigrants who illegally re-enter the country receive tough, mandatory minimum sentences. He would triple the number of ICE officers and add 5,000 more border patrol agents. New screening tests would be given to immigrants, with “extreme vetting” done to ensure they have our ideological values. And the 287g program would be brought back to return law enforcement powers to local police, something that was stripped away during the Obama administration.
“We must put American citizens first,” Trump said, and added that since not everyone who comes to America can successfully assimilate, we need to pick the ones who will.
He attacked the media several times for failing to disclose the truth about illegal immigration, and the crowd would turn and yell angrily at the media section. Some members of the media found it difficult getting attendees to agree to interviews, because there was so little trust. The crowd frequently broke into chants, including “USA USA,” “Build a wall,” and “Hillary for prison.”
There were plenty of protesters outside, many dressed colorfully to attract media attention. They carried professionally made signs that said “no hate” or that argued against a border fence. One man held up a piñata of Trump and let small children beat it with sticks. A protester who made it inside the convention hall started yelling while one of Trump’s angels was speaking. About 50 men, including multiple members of law enforcement and security, made their way over to the man and removed him.
The Meeting With Mexico’s President
Trump also talked about his meeting earlier in the day with Mexican President Peña Nieto. It is not clear whether the two discussed Trump’s insistence that Mexico fund a border fence between the two countries. According to the AP, Trump said they didn’t discuss it, whereas Nieto said he told Trump Mexico wouldn’t pay for it. Nieto held a joint press conference with Trump after the meeting, which resulted in considerable backlash against Nieto for daring to find common ground with Trump.
Considering Trump’s aggressive stance on illegal immigration, the meeting was a considerable feat to pull off, one that made Trump look presidential and able to deal realistically with foreign leaders. Perhaps his backing down from his call to deport the 11 million illegal immigrants made the difference. (For more from the author of “Trump Rallies Border Hawks With 10-Point Plan, Hillary Zingers” please click HERE)