After spending a year and a half promising an immigration policy that would deport millions of undocumented immigrants – even those who are nonviolent – Donald Trump is now saying he may, in fact, be in favor of offering legal status to these immigrants.
According to The New York Times, the unpopular president “told news anchors on Tuesday that he is open to a broad immigration overhaul that would grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed serious crimes.”
More from the report:
“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” the president told the TV anchors at the White House, according to people present during the discussion. The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the private meeting.
A move toward a comprehensive immigration overhaul would be a dramatic turnaround for the president, whose campaign rallies rang with shouts of “build the wall!” on the Mexican border and who signed an executive order last month directing the deportation of any undocumented immigrant who has committed a crime — whether or not they have been charged — or falsified any document. The standard could apply to virtually any one of the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally.
This is a major shift from the campaign when Trump consistently said that the millions of undocumented immigrants inside the U.S. will have to “go out and come back in” in order to gain legal status.
“We are going to get them the hell out of our country,” Trump said early in his presidential campaign. “They shouldn’t be here in the first place. They will be out so fast your head will spin.”
This rhetoric was central to winning over angry white voters during the Republican primary, and if the Times report is correct, it would be a stunning reversal for the president.
It’s not just different from the tone he took during the campaign, though. It’s also a big break from his early actions in the White House.
During Trump’s first few weeks, he has expanded efforts by the feds to track down and deport those here illegally, including a mother of two who was shipped back to Mexico earlier this month even though she had frequent and uneventful “check-ins” with immigration officials.
Ultimately, it’s hard to tell where Trump stands on this or any issue as his rhetoric is ever-changing and tends to reflect whatever room he is standing in at a given moment. Everything is negotiable.
But his words on this issue will matter very little if his administration spends the next four years implementing an immigration policy similar to that of the last four weeks.