Trump is giving his first State of the Union speech tonight, and some articles are already reporting that Trump is “softening” his rhetoric in anticipation of an immigration deal.
Oh boy. We’ve heard that one before – too many times.
During Trump’s campaign, which was launched in June of 2015 with an attack on Mexican immigrants, we also kept hearing that Trump was softening or pivoting or changing. Neither ever happened. Trump made it clear how he feels about immigrants — and now he’s enacting the very policies he espoused on the trail.
Let us say definitely that Trump is not softening on immigration. Period.
You see, almost exactly a year ago, Trump gave his first Congressional speech in front of both the House and Senate. In a blatant turn of misdirection and trickery, Trump right before the speech called reporters to the White House and told them he was willing to compromise on immigration. Despite warnings from advocates, many commentators fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
“Trump softens immigration stance, takes measured tone in speech,” read one major news headline.
“Trump says he is open to immigration compromise including legal status,” read another.
“Seeming presidential at last, Trump tries to balance his political elements,” said a third.
And then what happened? Trump presided over a year in which he completely overturned our immigration system as we know it. He implemented multiple Muslim bans, ended DACA, cancelled temporary protected status (TPS), turned women and children fleeing violence away at the border, cut refugee admissions to record-low levels, mass-deported mothers and fathers who take care of U.S. citizen children, campaigned to decrease legal immigration, and more.
In the last six weeks, Trump has TWICE walked away from immigration deals that would protect Dreamers, leaving young people who have lived here almost their entire lives vulnerable to deportation. His current immigration proposal seeks to cut legal immigration by the greatest reduction seen in a hundred years.
Just this week, Trump’s immigration policies led to the deportation of Amer Adi, an Ohio businessman and father who had lived in the U.S. for nearly forty years and whose contributions have been credited with reviving downtown Youngstown, Ohio. ICE initially appeared to indicate that Amer would receive a stay of deportation, was safe, and could remain with his family. They scheduled a seeming-routine appointment with Amer. When he showed up, they arrested him in front of his family and friends, imprisoned him for weeks, and deported him. His community today is mourning “a hell of a man.”
No matter what Trump says tonight, that is his immigration policy. So for goodness’ sake, those covering his State of the Union speech should look further than the face value of what he says, weigh his rhetoric against a year’s worth of horrific family separations, and not believe for a second that he is “softening” or “pivoting” on immigration.