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The Experts Get It: Trump Immigration Speech Offers Dark View of America, Deportation for Undocumented

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Last night, in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s dark and nativist immigration speech, America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry noted that “the intended outcome of Trump’s policy is to deport or force out most, if not all, of the 11 million undocumented immigrants settled in this country … To put it bluntly, this is mass deportation with a topping of self-deportation. It is still the most extreme position of any modern presidential candidate. It is deeply unpopular with voters, and profoundly un-American.”

Many of the observers who understand the nuances of immigration policy immediately captured that Trump’s immigration speech, in tone and policy, added up to an incredibly hardline vision for immigration policy and immigrants in America. See below.

It’s also worth noting that this assessment was shared by anti-immigrant firebrands and white nationalists, from Ann Coulter to David Duke, who were thrilled with Trump’s speech last night. Plus, Latinos who had embraced Trump are now moving away from him for the same reasons the hardliners liked the speech.

Among the key observers’ assessments of last night’s speech included:

Benjy Sarlin of NBC News, “Trump Recommits to Mass Deportation in Fiery Immigration Speech: “Surprise! Donald Trump’s self-declared “softening” on immigration is gone, replaced by a recommitment to a hardline policy that could best be described as mass deportation. Shouting his remarks to a fired-up crowd in Arizona, which has been home to some of the most contentious immigration policy fights of the last decade, Trump pledged a maximal approach that would target every undocumented immigrant in the country without mercy.”

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post: “Trump Returns to His Old Standbys: Xenophobia, Hate, Lies, and Yes, Mass Deportations: “You may have read news accounts that told you that Trump has stopped using the words ‘deportation force.’ That is narrowly true, but it is largely irrelevant to understanding what actually happened last night. Here are two basic facts about the ‘new’ positions on immigration that Trump clarified in his Arizona speech: 1) Trump has now officially ruled out any meaningful path to legalization for the 11 million … 2) Trump has now confirmed not just that the 11 million are all targets for deportation, but also that deportation efforts will be increased from the status quo.”

Dara Lind of Vox: “What 11 Million Unauthorized Immigrants Heard from Donald Trump: Be Very Afraid: “Donald Trump’s immigration speech in Phoenix Wednesday night couldn’t have been clearer: If you live without papers in America, you should live in fear … Trump is saying that your and your family’s well-being comes at the expense of the well-being of Americans — that the two are a zero-sum battle. He’s calling people like you “thugs.” He’s promising — threatening — that police know exactly who you are, where you live. He’s promising — threatening — that they’re just waiting for a green light so they can bust through your door, cuff you, and turn you over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.”

Elise Foley of Huffington Post: “Donald Trump Just Cranked Up the Volume on Immigration: “The general-election Donald Trump who’s kinder and gentler on immigration doesn’t exist ― and most likely never did.”

Julia Preston of the New York Times: “Donald Trump, Far From Softening, Lays Out Tough Immigration Plans: “With calls to end so-called sanctuary cities, create a deportation task force and maintain “zero tolerance for criminal aliens,” Donald J. Trump laid out a 10-point immigration plan on Wednesday in Phoenix that reverted to the tough, uncompromising talk on the issue that has powered his appeal to his strongest supporters.”

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo: “Blood and Race and Trump: “The debate about immigration has become so polarized that it can be difficult to remember that there are reasonable policy questions to be debated and wrestled with over the terms, scope and numbers of immigrants the country should absorb at any one time. But what we saw tonight isn’t a tense version of that debate. It really has nothing to do with that debate at all. This is a blood soaked white nationalist politics that has caught fire with a significant minority of the electorate. There’s no reason to imagine that changes before November. And I think we’ll be with it for some time after as well.”

New York Times Editorial: “Donald Trump’s Deportation Nation: “In a strident speech given over a steady roar of cheers, he restated his brutally simple message: Criminal aliens were roaming our streets by the millions, killing Americans and stealing our jobs, and he’d kick them all out with a new “deportation force,” build the wall and make America safe again … Arizona, home of Minutemen vigilantes and a powerful grass-roots immigrant-rights movement, has long been a national bellwether on immigration policy. It was a fitting backdrop to Mr. Trump’s hollow proposals, and his relentless lies about the dangers that immigrants pose to the lives of “our American citizens.” Tornadoes are hollow at the center, too, and they do a lot of damage.

Adrian Carrasquillo of BuzzFeed: “Trump Fans Breathe Sigh Of Relief: He’s Not Pivoting From Tough Immigration Talk: “Talk of a humane approach, or a “softening” on immigration by Donald Trump, gave way to his trademark tough talk of building a wall and rounding up “criminal aliens” during an immigration policy speech Wednesday at the Phoenix Convention Center, ending an 11-day trial balloon by his campaign.”

Norm Ornstein of the Atlantic: “Most effusive praise for Trump speech? David Duke and Ann Coulter. What more do you need to know?”

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post: “Trump reverts to his xenophobic self: “But Trump, having completed his photo op with the Mexican president, discarded the ‘friend’ he had apparently just used as a prop. Trump landed in Phoenix for what was supposed to be a detailed ‘policy address’ on immigration but was a familiar, nativist rant. Preceded at the lectern by Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff and anti-immigration hard-liner, Trump launched into a lament for the ‘countless Americans’ who are ‘victims of violence’ by illegal immigrants who are ‘dangerous, dangerous, dangerous criminals.’…But Trump’s attempt at appearing diplomatic was only a feint. If his core supporters were worried — and if the rest of Americans were reassured — that he was softening his hard-line position, they had to wait only until he spoke in Phoenix on Wednesday night.”