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Wednesday was a big day for Donald Trump. First, his high-risk, high-reward gambit to Mexico highlighted by his cordial visit with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto went off exactly as intended, making Trump look pragmatic, respectful, and most of all, Presidential.
Next, his Arizona policy speech on immigration eschewed amnesty of any sort and laid out a clear, comprehensive, ten-point vision to take our country back.
Trump began his speech by referring to his earlier visit and calling President Nieto “a man I like and respect very much and a man who truly loves his country.” Both men agree on “ending the illegal flow of drugs, cash, guns, and people across our border and to put the cartels out of business.” The Republican nominee also spoke of the contributions of Mexican-American citizens, his love for the people of Mexico, and the friendship between the United States and its neighbor to the south.
“We’re all going to win,” Trump said in calling for a new, fair relationship between the two countries.
Focusing on the current immigration system that doesn’t serve the American people, Trump defined immigration reform as “Improvements in our laws and policies to make life better for American citizens.”
Naming several people who would be alive today were it not for our open border policies, policies supported by President Obama and Hillary Clinton and that cost our country more than $113 billion per year, Trump insisted on “our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think will thrive, flourish, and love us.”
Many good people are illegal immigrants, Trump acknowledged, but that “doesn’t change the fact that most illegal immigrants are low-skilled with less education that compete with vulnerable Americans.”
“There is only one core issue in the immigration debate,” Trump said, “and that issue is the well-being of the American people … We will treat everyone living or residing in our country with great dignity. We will be fair, just, and compassionate to all, but our greatest compassion must be for our American citizens.”
“President Obama and Hillary Clinton have engaged in gross dereliction of duty by surrendering the safety of the American people to open borders,” Trump said to loud applause. “This includes her plan to bring in 620,000 new refugees from Syria and that region over a short period of time … What is wrong with our politicians … what the hell are we doing?”
The billionaire businessman outlined a 10-point plan crafted with input from federal immigration officers as well as others who represent workers instead of big businesses who profit from illegal immigration.
Number one – “Wait for it,” Trump said to palpable anticipation. “We will build a great wall along the southern border. [cheers] And Mexico will pay for the wall – 100 percent. [louder cheers] They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for the wall,” Trump said, perhaps referring to the Mexican President’s comments but mentioning that he believes Mexico will “work with us” and that the president wants to solve the problem.
Number two – End catch and release. “Anyone caught illegally will be detained until they are removed. Great distances.”
Number three – Zero tolerance for the at least 2 million criminal aliens inside the country. “We will begin moving them out day one.” Trump called for the passage of Kate’s law “to ensure that criminal aliens convicted of illegal re-entry receive strong mandatory minimum sentences, and then we get them out,” as well as the Davis Oliver bill to ensure criminal immigrants and terrorists are swiftly identified and removed.
Trump wants to triple the number of ICE deportation officers by hiring 5,000 of them and putting them “on the border not behind desks.”
In perhaps his funniest lines of the night, the Republican nominee called for a “deportation task force” to focus on criminal illegals who have evaded justice “just like Hillary Clinton has evaded justice – okay – maybe they’ll be able to deport her!”
Number four – Block funding for sanctuary cities. “We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths.”
Number five – Cancel unconstitutional executive orders and enforce all immigration laws. “We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants.”
“Anyone who enters the United States illegally is subject to deportation,” Trump said. These include criminals, gang members, visa overstays, and welfare recipients.
Number six – Stop immigration from Syria, Libya, and other high-risk places. “We are going to suspend the issuance of VISAS from any place where adequate screening cannot occur.” Trump called it “extreme vetting,” and wondered why we shouldn’t create safe zones over there with money from Gulf States instead of bringing Syrians here at a tremendous cost and risk to Americans.
In a fundamental shift from our previous immigration policies, Trump called for an “ideological certification to make sure that those we are admitting to our country share our values and love our people.” This would exclude people who believe in honor killings, radical Islam, disrespecting gays, minorities, etc.
Number seven – Make countries take people back when we order them deported. Trump mentioned the 13,000 criminals released under Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, 30 percent of whom committed new offenses.
Number eight – Complete biometric entry/exit VISA tracking system. “Eliminate VISA overstays that are a threat to national security.”
Number nine – Trump called for an enforcement of E-Verify and turning off the welfare spigot, and insisted that “those who abuse our welfare system will be priorities for immediate removal.”
Number ten – This is groundbreaking as well. For the first time in at least a generation, an American politician called for a reform of LEGAL immigration to “serve the best interests of the American worker.” Trump mentioned the 59 million who have come between 1965 and 2015, many of whom have “greatly enriched” our country, but now we “have an obligation to them and to their children to control immigration.” We must “ensure assimilation, integration, and upward mobility.”
The goal? To “keep immigration levels measured by population share within historical norms,” and we do this by selecting immigrants “by likelihood of success and their ability to be financially self-sufficient.”
According to Trump, immigrants who come here must do so “legally, properly vetted, and in a matter that serves the national interest.”
Trump said these ten steps will, “accomplish more in a matter of months than our politicians have accomplished on this issue in the last 50 years.”
What of those already here illegally, those who have broken no laws and aren’t on welfare (i.e. are productive members of society)? Trump outlined “one route and one route only – to return home and apply for re-entry just like everyone else under the rules of the new immigration system I have outlined above.”
“We will break the cycle of amnesty for illegal immigration… there will be no amnesty. 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.”
There seemed to be some wiggle room at the end, as Trump did not call for any active pursuit of law-abiding, productive illegals currently residing here, instead saying “that discussion can take place only in an atmosphere in which illegal immigration is in the past.”
If Trump accomplishes these ten things and we have our country back, my guess is the vast majority of Americans will be more than happy to reach some sort of compromise with those folks.
The speech ended with a touching parade of parents who have lost loved ones to illegal immigrants, all of whom endorsed the Republican nominee.
It’s clear from the speech and from the reality on the ground that Americans have one last chance to get this one right. After that, it’s game over. The good news is, Trump’s best day yet on the campaign trail comes at a time when he is beginning to gain serious ground in the polls.
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