(Chris Chmielenski, NumbersUSA) Republican presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, laid out his plan for restoring the enforcement of existing immigration laws and explained his vision for future immigration flows on Wednesday night. The speech was heavy with details on enforcement, but a bit light on what reforms are needed for future flows. But he several times stated the principle behind changes to serve the national interest and help, not hurt, the job prospects and wages of the “forgotten” American workers.
Trump’s focus on enforcement drove the mainstream media’s post-speech coverage. It’s been almost a year since he called for a “deportation force” to remove an estimated 11 million illegal aliens. On Wednesday night, he narrowed mass deportations to criminal aliens. All other illegal aliens would be subject to removal if they encounter federal officials (in line with existing law that the past four presidents have not honored).
There was little mention from the media of Trump’s comments on American workers. But Roy was able to make the point in his more than 300 media mentions on Thursday.
Roy’s point to the media was that the harm to Americans from non-criminal illegal aliens is primarily when they take jobs and depress wages.
Roy said, “even if they are not deported, much harm is removed if they are no longer allowed to take jobs or receive benefits, two of Trump’s promises.”
Trump’s plan to end illegal immigration was exhaustive. He called for implementing the Congressionally-approved biometric entry/exit system, expanding the use of E-Verify, and even got into the nuances of enforcement like the 287(g) program and catch-and-release.
Unfortunately, Trump didn’t offer that same level of specificity on legal immigration. The closest he came is when he said, “It is our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish here.”
That would lead one to believe that he would end chain migration and the visa lottery, as well as end the abuses within both the high-skilled and low-skilled foreign guest-worker programs. But, again, he didn’t offer those details.
Fact-checkers go nuts
The so-called “fact-checkers” out-did themselves after Trump’s speech on Wednesday night. Jeremy has two new blogs analyzing the job done by the Associated Pressand NPR. It seemed as though they spent less time actually fact-checking Trump’s speech and more time offering the immigration expansionists’ spin to his remarks.
In fact, the fact-checkers were checking things Trump didn’t even present as a fact. TheWashington Post went after him for saying that no one really knows what the illegal-alien population is even though he used the number “11 million” on multiple occasions throughout the speech.
This tainted coverage shows the fear that is spreading among those who benefit from mass immigration. At one point, Trump called them out, saying “the fundamental problem with the immigration system in our country is that it serves the needs of wealthy donors, political activists and powerful politicians.” NumbersUSA has been saying this for nearly 20 years, but the message is resonating with the American people much more since the 2009 recession.
Impact on the future
There’s been some debate over the last few days on whether or not Trump’s speech was good for the future of the immigration-reduction movement. Slate columnist Reihan Salam thinks Trump’s hardline tone on enforcement will make “it harder for restrictionists to achieve their long-term goals.” In general, Salam supports ending illegal immigration and overall reductions in immigration numbers, so the source of his concern for Trump’s tone is genuine unlike much of the post-speech analysis.
But in the hour leading up to Trump’s primetime speech on Wednesday night, I asked Eric Ruark, our Director of Research, if he ever remembered this much buildup to a policy speech, let-alone an immigration policy speech, given by a presidential nominee in August. Switching between the three cable networks, Trump’s speech received the sort of coverage and analysis that you would only see for a State of the Union. In my mind, that’s a good thing for the immigration-reduction movement.
Earlier this week, CIS’s Mark Krikorian made the case that the core dilemma is not amnesty. The core dilemma is how do we stop illegal immigration and, adding one more, what should future legal immigration flows look like.
The mainstream media did its best to keep the focus on the “11 million” because biased polling has shown that Americans support legalization when not offered middle-ground options. But more balanced polling shows that Americans support enforcement first and a legal immigration system that serves the national interest. Those views are at odds with the expansionist view.
While we neither endorse candidates nor always agree with Trump’s tone on immigration, we certainly agree with his echoing of the recommendation of the Barbara Jordan-led U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform — that our nation’s immigration system should serve the national interest.