One never knows what Donald Trump will say—the candidate has flaunted his unpredictability for over a year. But now, finally, in the general election and with his stance on his core political identity in question, he has delivered the most anticipated speech of his political career. And here’s the answer. There will be no flip-flopping. There will be no “softening.” There will be no pivot.
If anyone had any doubts, Trump put them to rest on Wednesday evening.
The wall? You got it. “On day one we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall,” Trump said as soon as he got past the opening niceties. And, in a response to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s post-visit tweet, handed back a sassy retort. “They don’t know it yet. They’re great people and great leaders. But they’re gonna pay for it.”
The deportation force? He’s standing by it. The defunding of sanctuary cities? That too.
And there’s more. Trump reiterated that undocumented immigrants who’ve been convicted of crimes will be swiftly deported. “Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone,” Trump said.
He also pledged to revive programs that require partnership between local law enforcement agencies and immigration authorities—programs that the Obama administration has retired or lessened. One that Trump is fond of, called 287g, deputizes local law-enforcement personnel to act as immigration agents. The priority will be to expedite all removals of all undocumented immigrants. To that end, Trump also promised that any undocumented immigrant who’s ever arrested will be sent into deportation proceedings. In Trump’s imagining they never need be charged, or even convicted of any crime for them to be separately detained by immigration officials.
He also said that he will go after the most politically sympathetic group of undocumented immigrants: so-called DREAMers who came to the United State as children, and who have to clear a host of hurdles to qualify for the executive action program President Obama announced in 2012. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has granted undocumented immigrants who came into the country as children short-term reprieves from the threat of deportation. (A second executive action remains tangled up in court.) Trump, reiterating earlier pledges, said he would throw both executive action programs out the window.
Any undocumented immigrant in this country, regardless of how long they’ve been here, regardless of whether they have US citizen children or families, will be forced to leave the country if they ever want to change their status. “They will have one route and one route only—to return home and apply for re-entry like everybody else under the rules of the new legal immigration system that I have outlined above.”