By Ed Hoffman
This week, everyone is still talking about Donald Trump’s supposed flip-flop on illegal immigration as if it’s the worst offense a presidential candidate could possibly commit. But my feeling is that there was no flip-flop at all. Let’s examine what his most noteworthy (and largely mischaracterized) statements on illegal immigration have been all along.
June 2015: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” This is the statement that got the ball rolling on the idea that Trump is some kind of racist. You live in a state that borders Mexico; do you agree with what he said? In many parts of the Inland Empire, people do because they see these crimes happening at the hands of illegal immigrants.
November 2015: “You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely,” Trump said when asked how 11 million illegal immigrants could be deported. Now, campaign advisors like Kellyanne Conway and Gov. Chris Christie are sticking to an “enforce the laws we already have” narrative by emphasizing that any deportations would be done through “normal” channels like Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That’s great, but the New York Times said last year that Trump’s deportation force would simply be Homeland Security Investigations, an existing division of ICE – in other words, the same “normal” channels they’re talking about now. So, was there really a flip-flop there? It doesn’t seem so.
August 2016: “My priority is the well-being of 300 million American citizens, including millions of Hispanic citizens and legal residents who want a secure border, and I mean secure…We have some great, great people in this country. But, so, we’re going to follow the laws of this country.” Sounds pretty similar to what he has been saying all along. So again, the position has been consistent.
When it comes to Trump’s supposed flip-flop on illegal immigration, there’s no “there” there. Sorry, never-Trumpers.
I asked California Republican delegate Felix Veiga about this on my radio show last week. “How about giving Trump some credit for attacking the problem in the first place?” Veiga said. “He’s the only guy who’s attacking the problem head-on, even though a lot of people said that could be political suicide.” Veiga is a Latino who is a triple-bound delegate for Trump, and he’s tired of people thinking his community wants open borders. “When you come over illegally, it’s not fair for the people who have been waiting in line,” he said. “It’s not fair for these people to get benefits. And, immigration isn’t the only issue Latinos care about.”
So while Trump supporters have spent the past week defending his microscopic shift on illegal immigration, Hillary Clinton has been caught in more lies regarding her use of a personal server to send classified emails while Secretary of State – another 15,000, to be exact. One of my employees defended her to me last week with this line: “Has she been convicted of anything?”
“No,” I said. “Was O.J. Simpson?”
Ed Hoffman is host of The Main Event on AM590, which airs Saturday 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM and Sunday 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Follow him on Twitter @EdHoffman, and like him on Facebook by searching The Main Event 590.