We’ve gone from deportation force to no amnesty, but we’re going to work with them regarding those who are here illegally. That’s a shift. That seems to be what other former GOP contenders were saying, including Jeb Bush. In fact, it is pretty much Bush’s immigration position that Trump slammed as being weak on illegal immigration. It’s the softening that so many of those who were skeptical about Trump warned the party about, which came out during the Republican nominee’s town hall event last night with Fox News’ Sean Hannity:
Now, everybody agrees we get the bad ones out. But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject -- and I've had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me -- and they've said, 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,' I have it all the time. It's a very, very hard thing."
And now here’s what Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush said on the stump in the long, long ago:
Sen. Marco Rubio campaigned in November in South Carolina: "We will enforce our immigration laws. That being said, I don't think it's reasonable to say you're going to round up and deport 11 million people. And I think people are going to be reasonable and responsible about what do you do with someone who has been in this country for 10 years who otherwise has not violate the law, has learned English, paying taxes, paid a fine and wants a work permit."
In New Hampshire last September, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush used similar language.
"You come out from the shadows. You receive a provisional work permit. You pay taxes. You don't receive federal government assistance. You learn English," he said. "You earn legal status, not citizenship. That, to me, is the most practical way of dealing with this problem."
But Donald Trump hasn’t changed his position on immigration. He’s just using different words, or something.
“He hasn't changed his position on immigration. He's changed the words that he is saying,” said Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson that elicited laughter from the rest of the panel during her appearance on CNN this morning—and rightfully so. What Pierson described is change, which is exactly what her candidate did last night on this issue.
New campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, also failed to show how Trump’s new stance on immigration is different than those offered by Cruz, Rubio, and Bush on New Day with Chris Cuomo:
Donald Trump campaign manager on immigration plan:— New Day (@NewDay) August 25, 2016
- No amnesty
- No sanctuary cities
- E-Verify for businesses https://t.co/eCG0zOgtce
If anything, regarding deportations, Trump said he would be like Obama, but “with a lot more energy.” Not the best person to associate yourself with if you’re gunning to bring toughness to the realm of immigration enforcement.
For the Cruz camp, well, it’s a long awaited I told you so moment (via Politico):
Everything Trump promises comes with an expiration date,” said Cruz’s former Senate communications director, Amanda Carpenter. “We knew it during the primary, and now it is apparent he has duped his most loyal supporters on the issue they care about most, immigration. Don't say we didn't warn them."
It vindicates the speech, it vindicates what Ted Cruz warned would happen during the course of the campaign,” said Chris Wilson, the director of research, analytics and digital strategy on Cruz’s campaign and a top Cruz adviser who has always argued that the RNC speech would be remembered favorably. He went on to add, “I do think, yes, the immigration point is another data point that he was right, it’s another data point that leads people to understand Ted Cruz knew what he was talking about, he was making the right decision.”
“From what I have seen, he is now the pro-amnesty candidate,” said Rick Tyler, a former campaign communications director for Cruz. “If Trump is insistent on reversing himself on amnesty, then he will have fooled his entire base. He would have fooled enough people who voted for him to make him the Republican nominee. It’s deceitful; it was a betrayal.”
Then again, the Cruz camp needs to be reminded about something as well. They lost. Moreover, their candidate isn’t a pure immigration warrior either. Cruz did support legalization back in 2013. Now, in February, he did say that we should deport all 11-12 million illegal immigrants who are here, though he shied away from saying there would be a deportation force; Cruz was confident that ICE agents, coupled with serious border enforcement would eventually find the illegals here, though that’s a process that would certainly have extended well beyond the term limits of the presidency.
Is it time for the GOP to just accept that we need to secure the border, allow immigration enforcement to do their jobs, but, and here’s the sticky wicket for some, come to the realization that we cannot simply deport 12 million people? Certainly not in the time frame that would satisfy the die-hard Trump wing of the GOP; that’s literally going door-to-door to find these people - which is a bit odd to endorse since Democrats want to do the same thing, only with gun owners.
Regardless, Trump has shifted his stance on immigration to fit the mold of Bush, Rubio, and Cruz—and the fact that the Trump communications team, and his campaign manager, can’t really suggest otherwise proves the softening is happening.