- Raul Reyes: Trump raises hopes he’s interested in immigration reform, then dashes them in his speech to Congress
- He says this is the most anti-immigrant president in modern history — and his actions speak louder than his words
While Trump stopped short of endorsing a path to citizenship for the undocumented, this was nonetheless a startling break with his past hard-line stance on immigration. A senior administration official also told journalists that Trump would be open to legalization for undocumented immigrants who have not committed serious or violent crimes.
Then came Trump’s address before Congress, and his true intentions were revealed. His talk of immigration reform, we now know, was just that: Talk. At best, his earlier statements about immigration reform were a publicity stunt designed to gin up interest (and ratings, which Trump is obsessed with) in his speech. At worst, this bait-and-switch was a cruel hoax perpetrated on millions of undocumented people who might have briefly hoped for a reprieve from possible deportation.
In fact, Trump’s speech offered little meaningful policy on immigration, beyond conflating immigrants with crime and misrepresenting key facts underlying illegal immigration. Tellingly, there was no mention of offering legalization to anyone.
Trump told the assembled members of Congress that he believed “real and positive immigration reform is possible,” as long as lawmakers committed to improving American jobs and wages, increasing domestic security and restoring respect for the rule of law.
Trump would have to fight with his core supporters and closest advisers to move any plan for legalization forward, and this would amount to a betrayal on his campaign’s signature issue. So despite Trump’s teasing of a “compromise,” that is not happening.
Sure, Trump did recycle some immigration-related policy we’ve heard about for a while now. He spoke about his “great, great wall,” though there was no mention of Mexico paying for it. He said that he wants to move the United States toward a merit-based legal immigration system, jettisoning the family unity principle that has guided our immigration policy for decades.