Trump recommits to mass deportation in fiery immigration speech
Donald Trump's self-declared "softening" on immigration is gone, replaced by a recommitment to a hardline policy that could best be described as mass deportation.
Shouting his remarks to a fired-up crowd in Arizona, which has been home to some of the most contentious immigration policy fights of the last decade, Trump pledged a maximal approach that would target every undocumented immigrant in the country without mercy.
"There will be no amnesty," Trump said. "Our message to the world will be this: You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country."
The speech came just hours after Trump appeared in Mexico, where he struck a more conciliatory tone after meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Trump's warm-up speakers Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) wore "Make Mexico Great Again Also" hats.
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"We will build a great wall along the southern border," Trump said in Arizona before being drowned out by cheers. "And Mexico will pay for the wall."
Whatever crisis of conscience Trump had this month after talking to Hispanic supporters and hearing tales of longtime residents torn from their families passed in the rear-view mirror. Instead, Trump used his remarks in Arizona to reassure his core supporters that he would focus on deporting criminals, but remain true to his original pledge to target all undocumented immigrants without mercy, whether illegal workers or DREAMers or the parents of U.S. citizens.
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"We will issue detainers for illegal immigrants who are arrested for any crime whatsoever and they will be placed in immediate removal proceedings — if we even have to do that," Trump said.
To the extent there was a pivot, it appeared to be from the hard right to the alt right.
"I think I'll watch this speech every night before going to bed so that I will sleep like a baby," conservative author Ann Coulter, who had chided Trump for waffling on immigration earlier this month, tweeted.
At the end, he offered a briefest nod to a possible point, far in the future, when he might consider a "discussion" about what to do with remaining undocumented population, a line that contradicted his earlier pledge in the speech to never entertain legalization.
But the overall message was clear. When it comes to Trump's platform now, and not in some hypothetical land where illegal immigration has been ended, the plan is mass deportation.