by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Many believe that it was Trump’s firm stance on immigration that propelled him to victory in the Republican primaries. Since his entrance into the race in June 2015, the real-estate mogul has ignited crowds with promises to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and to deport the approximately 11 million Americans currently in the country illegally. Immigration hawks who have long been frustrated with the Republican party’s standard-bearers, from Ronald Reagan to Mitt Romney, agreed to support him despite other misgivings about his candidacy.
So when Trump appeared on Sean Hannity’s television show on Wednesday evening and did an about-face on immigration, unleashing a word salad of policy jargon and telling the Fox News host that he would consider a “softening” of his position on deportation and a number of measures that would allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country,, one would have predicted an outpouring of recrimination from the immigration hawks who have pledged their support for him.
But there has been very little of that. Instead, many immigration hawks are defining success downward, and they remain confident that Trump will land on a sensible immigration policy.
“Trump has not substantially deviated from his core position,” says Daniel Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates reductions in both legal and illegal immigration. “What fundamentally matters is two things: Is this a president who is going to carry out the law the way it’s written? And is this a president who is going to work to stop illegal immigration?”