Donald Trump and his top aides have spent the last two weeks sowing confusion about what the status of the country’s 12 million illegal immigrants would be under a Trump administration. Would they all be deported, as Trump argued last year? Or would some have to go while others would be allowed to stay, as Trump has hinted in the “softening” of his position in recent days?
In his immigration speech in Phoenix Wednesday night, Trump gave his answer, but it will do nothing to lessen the criticism he has received over the issue.
First, Trump announced that he will aggressively move to deport criminal illegal immigrants — that is, immigrants who have committed crimes beyond the act of entering the country illegally. “We will begin moving them out day one, in joint operations with local, state and federal law enforcement,” Trump said.
Then Trump got to the rest of the 12 million…. Trump was addressing the illegal immigrants who would choose to stay in this country — that is, non-criminals and those who chose not to return to their home countries and get in line to return to the United States. If those people stayed here, Trump said, then their situation would be debated after all the enforcement measures are in effect. At that time, there would be “different options” available for them.