For two weeks, the world wondered, is Donald Trump trying to pull off some kind of pivot on immigration? Will our big beautiful wall be reduced to a virtual one? Will Trump back away from his vow to deport every last undocumented immigrant? Trump even went down to Mexico for an uncharacteristically low energy outing, in which he played nice with President Enrique Pena Nieto—who says he told Trump Mexico wouldn't pay for his wall.
But like AJ Styles inviting John Cena into the ring for an apology before jumping him, Donald Trump played us all for suckers and used his "softening" to lead into a big immigration speech that summoned up a vision of a great wall and the specter of an unknowable number of bloodthirsty criminal aliens in our streets. So basically, the same thing he's been saying for over a year now.
To be fair, there was a dash of diplomacy before the speech, as Trump sent Rudy Giuliani to warm up the crowd while wearing a hat that said "Make Mexico Great Again Also."
— Marc Martinez (@marcfox10) September 1, 2016
Trump used the beginning of his speech to blame undocumented immigrants for pretty much every problem in America; claiming that "countless" lives had been taken by undocumented immigrants, that they cost the government $113 billion per year and that the number of undocumented immigrants in the country "could be 3 million. It could be 30 million."
When he did get to the policy section of his speech, the first thing Trump promised was: "We will build a great wall along the southern border." And, safe on his side of the border, Trump also returned to his claim that Mexico would pay for this wall. "They don't know it yet, but they're going to pay for it," he told the crowd in Phoenix.
Having revealed himself as being who we already thought he was, Trump went on to promise "zero tolerance" for anyone caught entering the country illegally and to issue detainers (a kind of deportation warrant) and then deport every undocumented immigrant arrested for a crime even if they aren't convicted. Trump, a man who has been accused of helping models gain entry to the country without work visas, also promised a "biometric visa entry tracking system" and that "removing visa overstays will be a top priority of my administration."
If the speech was any kind of pivot by Trump, it was one in which he learned to tar in more general terms ("the gangs are all over the place") rather than specifics ("They're rapists") and to promise an even bigger crackdown on immigrants. A quick look at Trump's plan by the Washington Post suggests that 6 million undocumented immigrants would be deported under Trump's new plan, 4.5 million of whom are people overstaying visas.
Reaction to the speech was mixed. On the one hand, three of the people on Trump's Hispanic advisory board council have dropped their support for Trump, with one likening him to famed 1930s hatemonger Father Charles Coughlin:
Here's a Trump Latino advisor Jacob Monty now rebuking Trump: "He must want to lose. He can do that without me." pic.twitter.com/5QznNFfyje
— Teddy Schleifer (@teddyschleifer) September 1, 2016
On the other hand Ann Coulter, a CNN reporter and Jared Taylor, the publisher of white supremacist magazine American Renaissance and the author of White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century saw a lot to like in the speech!
#TrumpAZ Donald Trump has tied our foolish immigration policies to every problem we have. This is a epochal, historic, unprecedented.
— Jared Taylor (@jartaylor) September 1, 2016
So with 68 days to go, we've all pivoted pretty much back to where we were a little over a year ago, except now the neon orange demagogue saying these things could actually legally become president of the United States.